Dougie Needles’ Blackheart Birthday! (March 11)


Dougie Needles is a badass

As I type this, folks in Los Angeles are gearing up for The Runaways‘ premiere, but I didn’t want today to pass without paying tribute to one of the greatest lead guitar players in the world on his birthday. (In my opinion, at least.)

Dougie Needles has been spicing up The Blackhearts’ stew since… jeez, I think it was 1999 or 2000. I’ll have to ask the board to see if anyone remembers the exact year, but I know it was a long time ago. (I’ll edit this when I confirm.)  His sound is distinctive, and all punk.

Here are a few of my favorite Dougie-fied Jett solos. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

1. Cherry Bomb

2. Change the World


4. Crimson and Clover

5. Joan and Dougie’s dueling guitars in “Everyday People” is my favorite part of their live shows:

Check out this cool interview Dougie did with Ultimate Guitar back in 2006, HERE. Here’s a few excerpts:

Ultimate-Guitar: How did you come to hook up with Joan Jett?

Dougie Needles: I was working at S.I.R. in NYC and a friend I worked with was Dee Dee Ramone’s guitar tech. Joan was playing a gig in Long Island where Dee Dee came up to play a song. My friend found out that night that Joan was looking for a guitar player. He gave out my number and I got a call a few days later to audition. They advised me by saying, ‘better learn two songs really good than three songs half-assed’. And then added ‘Oh and she doesn’t like any of that Eddie Van Halen shit!’ And I was like, ‘you know, I grew up learning these [Jett] songs’. So I pretty much knew the whole thing. It was a great audition as I ended up playing the whole set.

You grew up on a diet of The Who, The Ramones and The Clash, how much of that and in what ways have these influences shaped your guitar playing and approach to music?

Yeah, they had a huge influence. Pete Townshend was the one who made me want to play guitar, Joe Strummer and Johnny Ramone made me want to play punk rock guitar. But there were others. Chuck Berry taught me the concept of what some people (maybe like heavy metal guitarists) might call simple or boring solos, but I think those are the best solos. I learned from all of them that it’s a lot harder than it sounds or looks. But it starts with taking your influences and putting your style on top of them.

Let’s talk gear, what did you use for the recording of Sinner?

My main guitar was a ’56 Gibson Les Paul Jr through a Marshall JCM900 and a Marshall cabinet. I have a Tremelo, a Delay and a Wah Pedal. I used the Wah and Delay on the track ‘Fetish’. When it comes to the live stage, it’s the same gear I use in the studio, except I use the Tremelo pedal in the end of  ‘Crimson.’

How does it feel to be working with an artist the caliber of Jett and one whom is one of the elders of the punk rock scene?

First off, I don’t think of her as an elder, just a fellow band mate and one of the best and most professional musicians I’ve ever seen. Joan is a sweetheart and she made me feel real comfortable. She’s like, ‘take your time, whenever you’re ready’. I’ve played in a lot of other bands, crappy little New York bands that had two guitarists and I’ve never played with a guitar player that was like her where we work so well together. Mainly it’s a blast to play with her and I think we play off each other really well. I’ve never played with a better guitar player.

Also check out Dougie’s side project, The Public Offenders.

Happy Birthday, Dougie. Thank you for all of your hard work, dedication, and kick-ass riffs!


5 thoughts on “Dougie Needles’ Blackheart Birthday! (March 11)

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  2. Im one of those boring ‘guitar -musician’ people who you hope never corner you at a party, holding cell or Mensa meeting or something like that, so I really dissect all guitar stuff to the point of obsession…..I only saw Dougie once at the Jupiter gig but was blown away. Joan has worked with a few guitar players and of course they are all good in their own right, but to me, never totally captured the first Gen Ricky/Joan sound that I fell in love with in the 80’s. Dougie really has that first-gen vibe sonic reducer vibe going on and then some. His channeling of Johnny Thunders / Steve-Mick Jones and other ’77 punker icons into Joans music is spot on.
    Ruff and raw !! Oi Oi Oi !! Happy Birthday Dougie ..Dont ever change ! ha ha

  3. Great post – Happy Belated BDay Dougie Needles.

    Love that you included the videos – my appreciated.

    I wish I could see Joan Jett and The Blackhearts perform in person. She hasn’t performed in a city I’ve been in, in a while and I would love, love, love to see them.

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