Chatting with Gary Ryan of the Blackhearts: Rock Hall of Famer Special

Posted Feb 23, 2017 by Markos Papadatos
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Gary Ryan from Joan Jett & the Blackhearts chatted with Digital Journal about his music career.
Gary Ryan of the Blackhearts
Gary Ryan of the Blackhearts
Butch Comegys, Scranton Times-Tribune
On being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he said, "The induction ceremony itself was a culmination of events. This was the third time the band was nominated. Joan had called, excited and optimistic. As I recall, it may have been early on a Sunday morning when I got the, 'We're going to Cleveland!' call. Then, I was fortunate to visit with the band. We rehearsed with Tommy James. I spent a couple days in the studio recording with the Blackhearts. Then, I asked if I could pop out on the road and sit in for a couple shows prior to the induction. Remember, I haven't played with a band for almost 30 years. So we drove out to Detroit and I was able to play with the band for a few songs. Playing with Joan again after all these years was what made the whole honor so special. Great people at the Rock Hall and what an unbelievable museum! I was so impressed with the space, the collections and the archives. Way beyond surreal to be back in those old shoes again. My wife and I will be attending the 2017 induction in Brooklyn in a few weeks."
When asked what he misses most about the Blackhearts, he said, "Well, truth would be my old pal, Lee Crystal. When we were in the pocket, in the groove, what a formidable quartet we were. Ask any musician, I imagine that 'high' you get when you play, that would be what I miss most. The fun of playing in a rock and roll band can't be beat!"
On working with front-woman Joan Jett, he said, "Joan and I were very close and got along very well. Funny, those first few years were hard work, don't get me wrong, we were living and playing on the road relentlessly. Just being a band. It still never really felt like work to me. But if you mean by your question, what was it like to PLAY with Joan, it was awesome. I first met Joan as a Runaways fan. Her playing style is her own; she has 'her' own sound. Very chunky. That pocket I referred to before. So to be able to play and work with Joan as a fan first, It was always amazing whether playing live, or working in the studio."
Regarding his future plans, he said, "I have been an elementary teacher here in Pennsylvania for 18 years. I am currently looking to start bringing talent from NYC up to our area. There are many great venues."
For aspiring musicians, he said, "Be true to your craft and follow your heart. It's not a get rich quick scheme."
He continued, "I have a great connection with fans on Facebook. Joan's fans, I believe, are her greatest legacy. In as much as Jerry Garcia is personified in the very DNA of Deadheads, so is Joan with the Jettheads. It's important to remember I was a fan first!"
Ryan concluded by defining the word success. "I was just talking with a dear friend who I used to play in a band with. They have had good times and bad. I have. We all have. Ups and downs. Jobs, businesses, financials, family decisions, relationships, etc. I said that I sometimes feel like a cat. I'm not sure which life I am on at the moment, but it feels great! I don't know if that answers the question. Allow me to quote my father. Success is having someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to. I have all three!"