Behind every great song is a great story. In the case of these three songs - "I Love Rock & Roll", "Treat me Right" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" - the story began with the musicians and bands who wrote and recorded the songs first and continued with the singers who discovered the songs and turned them into gold and platinum!
The Arrows - I Love Rock & Roll (1975)
Back when Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Joan Jett was just beginning her journey as a Runaway, Alan Merrill & his band The Arrows were releasing their Mickie Most-produced fourth single "I Love Rock & Roll".
By fall of 1976, the single had gone Top 30 in the UK, the band had landed their own weekly UK TV show ("Arrows"), and Joan Jett's Runaways just happened to be touring the UK. It was during this tour that Jett saw the Arrows perform the song on Granada TV.
Three years later, Jett records "I Love Rock & Roll" with Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols, releasing the tune on Vertigo Records in the UK.
Jett records the song again in 1981 with her finalized Blackhearts line-up for her second album and, this time, the stars align. By the time all is said and done, Jett's version of the tune will go on to hit #1 in six countries, including the U.S. - a market the song's writer, Alan Merrill (himself from New York City) - could never crack.
Riff Raff - Treat Me Right (1981)
Quick, can you name the bass player for the Doors? Hint, he wasn't actually IN the Doors. Sure, they asked him to join, but he turned them down because he didn't want to leave his band at the time, Clear Light, who were also signed to Elektra and produced by Paul Rothchild.
Such is the claim to fame for Doug Lubahn, who still wound up playing bass on the Doors albums Strange Days, Waiting For The Sun and The Soft Parade.
Fast forward to 1979: Lubahn auditions for Pat Benatar's band in 1979 and, though he is not hired, one of the songs on his demo tape catches Benatar's ear.
Lubahn's demo cassette had featured a song he'd penned and recorded with his then-current band Riff Raff, who were yet unsigned. The song was called "Treat Me Right" and would be earmarked for Benatar's second album, Crimes of Passion.
Oddly enough, on Benatar's 1980 version, she is listed as a co-writer of the song while, on Riff Raff's version, released a year later on Arlantic Records, she is not. Regardless, the song became a Top 20 hit for Benatar. Lubahn, meanwhile, went on to play in Billy Squier's band for the Emotions In Motion and Signs of Life albums.
Robert Hazard - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (1979)
Talk about winning the lottery! For Philly-born Robert Hazard, fame seemed a certainty, but most thought it would come via his popular band Robert Hazard and the Heroes, or via his new wave-tinged '80s singles "Change Reaction" or "Escalator of Life".
Nobody could have predicted that a demo of a song he'd demoed in 1979 would find its way into the hands of Cyndi Lauper, who was searching for outside material for her debut solo album, She's So Unusual, or that Lauper would respond to the song's misogynistic lyrics, not by chucking the song entirely, but by simply penning her own lyrics instead (for which she received no co-writing credit).
The end result was not only a career-defining moment for Lauper, but for Hazard as well. Though his own recording career would never take off nationally, the continual airplay and use of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" in movies, TV, and commercials hopefully softened the blow for Hazard, who sadly passed away in 2008.