Drummer Thommy Price looks back on his three plus decades with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Long-time Joan Jett & The Blackhearts drummer Thommy Price was recently interviewed by Andrew DiCecco for Vinyl Writer Music. Price played drums for Joan Jett & The Blackhearts from in or about 1986 to 2016.
In terms of how he ended up joining Joan Jett & The Blakhearts, Price indicated: “Well, I’m an old friend of her partner, Kenny Laguna. I met Kenny in the 70s, around 1976/1977. He was producing this guy that I did some demos with that was signed to Leber-Krebs Management. Kenny happened to be sharing an office space with Leber-Krebs, and when this kid got signed to Leber-Krebs, they asked Kenny to do them a favor and produce these demos. Anyway, I was the drummer on
those demos — and these were way before he was even involved with Joan. So, over the years, we kept in touch and called each other from time to time. So, once he started working with Joan, he had to put a band together for her. He had called me to come up and play with Joan and see if I dug it. And in fact, I went up and I played with her, and this was before she had Ricky Byrd; I think Gary Ryan was the only original member. They offered me the gig, and I had just secured the Mink DeVille gig at the time, and I had booked an entire European with them, so I couldn’t really do anything with Joan.
By the time I had come back from Europe, Kenny had already hired a drummer, which was Lee Crystal of The Blackhearts. So, that was that. And then, years later, Lee left the band, and Joan was doing a movie with Michael J. Fox called Light of Day. So, the producer on the record was Jimmy Iovine, so he wanted me to do this Light of Day soundtrack with Joan. And this was the very first time over the years that we fell out of touch that I saw her again, and I started working with her. So, I did the Light of Day record, and then I think she might have toured for a year or two until the next record they called me for, which was Good Music. And I think from that record on, I was in and out with Billy, and I started making Joan’s records, and started doing gigs with her. So, whenever I wasn’t working with Billy, I’d be working with Joan. So, in the mid-to-late 80s, I was doing both gigs; I was doing some gigs with Billy, I’d come off the road, and go into the studio with Joan. I did that for quite a few years until I just stayed with Joan.”
With respect to whether his role within the band evolved over the years, Price stated: “Well, I don’t know if I really ever had a role, besides being the drummer in the band and helping [Joan] create a sound. Joan and I went through different incarnations of The Blackhearts; it was always her and I through all those years, but we always had different guitar players and bass players. So, I think she kind of leaned on me as far as being, if you wanna say, the musical director. We’d always talk about — when it became time to get another bass player, or she was getting tired of the guitar player — she would consult with me. She didn’t live in New York City, she lived outside of New York City, so I was always going out. I knew the locals, I knew a lot of the local bands throughout the years, so she kind of always leaned on me towards at least bringing them into a rehearsal or a record.”
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 2015 and Price commented as follows about that experience: “That was spectacular, man. It was the highlight. A couple of years before that, she was getting awards every week, for this, for that, so we were on like a roll of doing award shows every week. So, by the time the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony came, that was like the highlight of all of the award shows we were doing. That was one of those nights you never forget; we had Tommy James on stage with us; we had Miley Cyrus on stage with us; a couple of the original Blackhearts. Dave Grohl was on stage with us. It was a great night; it was fabulous.” In terms of being part of the band for over 30 years, Price noted: “I sure was. It was a family. They’d always make jokes about the “Blackheart Mafia.” It was one of those things where even if you’re not in the band anymore, you’re still part of the family; they never meant to let you leave. But it’s an all-around great experience working with Joan. She taught me a lot, and we’ve been buddies for a long time — more than half our lives.”
You can read the rest of the interview with Thommy Price at Vinyl Writer Music‘s website.
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts‘ “I Hate Myself For Loving You” video: