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Passings: Lee Crystal of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Source: Facebook page for
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
Lee Crystal, who played drums for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts during their height of commercial success, died after a twenty year fight with Multiple Sclerosis.

Tributes were quickly posted on a number of sites:

Joan Jett:
Lee Crystal was a gentleman, and a gentle man. He was a very good person and one I called a friend. He was a Blackheart during some magical times. We love him and will miss him.
- Joan Jett*
Former Blackhearts guitarist Ricky Byrd:
RIP Pally...your drum fill at the beginning of I Love RnR is part of Rock history!! Always a sweetheart!! My roommate on the road! Love ya Lee...see you on the other side! Condolences to Maura and the rest of the family
Kayos Productions
My heart is very heavy right now-our dear friend and Blackheart drummer Lee Crystal just lost his valiant fight with MS. Ricky and I are devastated.
Three years after graduating from high school, Crystal had his first professional success with his band The Boyfriends, opening for bands like the Ramones at CBGB.  He later played with Sylvian Sylvian and David Johansen before landing a job in 1981 with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

Jett and her band signed with Boardwalk Records shortly after Crystal joined which re-released her debut album as Bad Reputation. The followed late in the year with the first album on which Crystal played, the now classic I Love Rock 'n' Roll. That album included two major hits for the group, the title song, which topped the charts, and a cover of Tommy James and the Shondell's Crimson in Clover which made it to number 7.

Crystal would appear on two more albums, Album (1983) and Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth (1984) before leaving the group to play with Crash Conference and Secret Chiefs. Note that some sources also show him playing on some tracks on Bad Reputation, which was originally released as Joan Jett in 1980 before he joined the band, and 1986's Good Music although three drummers are credited.

Lee was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1993 and, as it became harder to play drums, he retired from professional music but continuing to teach the instrument from his home.