At the age of 16, Joan Jett became one of the founders of the all-girl rock band The Runaways, with which she would record until 1979. When touring in England in 1976, Jett would discover the band The Arrow's "I Love Rock 'n Roll."
First recorded in 1975 by the British band The Arrows, "I Love Rock 'n Roll," according to band member Alan Merrill, was written as a "knee-jerk response" to The Rolling Stones' "It's Only Rock And Roll (But I Like It)." Jett would see the band's performance of the song on their weekly UK series Arrows.
Jett's first recording of the song was in 1979 with Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols. It was released as a B-side to "You Don't Own Me" that same year. The best-known version by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts was released in 1981 and would climb to the No. 1 spot on Billboard Hot 100, where it remained for seven weeks. Surprisingly, this is the band's only number-one single.
The song is included on Jett's second studio album, I Love Rock 'n Roll; her first with her backing band, the Blackhearts, would be her most successful album. This is primarily due to the popularity of the title track.
The video for "I Love Rock 'n Roll" saw heavy airplay on MTV and begins with Jett's hit "Bad Reputation" playing in the background. It was initially filmed in color, but Jett hated the look of the red leather jumpsuit, so it was converted to black and white.
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts would film a new music video in 1993 as part of the soundtrack to the movie Wayne's World 2 starring Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey. The video features clips from the movie and a fake concert performed by the band.