Recorded before Joan Jett formed The Blackhearts, the majority of the album featured Jett backed by members of the Roll-Ups, with Lea Hart on guitar, Jeff Peters on bass and Paul Simmons on drums. Other tracks include well known musicians, such as the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones and Paul Cook, and Blondie’s Clem Burke and Frank Infante.
After independently recording the album with Laguna, Jett took the record to a number of major record labels, none of which were interested in releasing the project. Rather than continue to hunt for a willing label, Laguna and Jett decided to fund the pressing of the album themselves. The original, self-released, version of the album was simply titled Joan Jett and was sold directly to concert-goers and record stores out of Laguna’s trunk.
The album sold relatively well, prompting its re-release a year later as Bad Reputation on Boardwalk Records, with identical track listing. Jett said that the new title referred to the bad reputation that she had as a former member of The Runaways.
Bad Reputation is the debut solo studio album by American recording artist Joan Jett, originally self-released in 1980 as Joan Jett after her previous band The Runaways disbanded, then re-issued on Boardwalk Records in 1981 as Bad Reputation.