From Rolling Stone:
Attempting to jump-start a solo career after her stint in teenage rock band the Runaways, Jett was turned down by twenty-three record labels as she shopped around the demo tape to “I Love Rock ‘N Roll.” She finally cut the song for tiny Boardwalk Records, but that label’s execs weren’t sure that Jett’s riff-rocker was a hit — she was able to buy the radio rights to the track for $2,500. Today, Jett is a girl-rock icon and the song is worth nearly $20 million.
The song was originally recorded and released by the Arrows in 1975 on RAK Records, with lead vocals by Alan Merrill and produced by Mickie Most. In an interview with Songfacts, Merrill said he wrote it as “a knee-jerk response to The Rolling Stones‘ It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll.'”
Joan Jett saw the Arrows perform “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” on their weekly television series The Arrows Show when she was touring England with The Runaways in 1976. She first recorded the song in 1979 with two of the Sex Pistols: Steve Jones and Paul Cook. This first version was not released until 1993 in Flashback. In 1982, Jett re-recorded the song, this time with her band, The Blackhearts, and this recording became a U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number-one single for seven weeks, effectively launching Jett’s solo career.