Women that rock: Top 10 Women of Rock

janisjoplinWhile the men get a lot of the credit for shaping the rock n’ roll genre over the years, would you believe it was a gospel singer that incorporated a lot of the swing and rhythm that was found in rock in the 50’s and beyond? With that being said I thought it would be appropriate to honor these women who have helped shape rock, push boundaries, and redefine what a female artist should be. So please, comment on whose influences you’ve seen in the past decades. I’ll tell you it was a hell of a list to manage and compile. I hope you have as much fun reading and rocking to it as I did making it.

10.Debbie Harry

As “creepy” as “One Way Or Another” is, there’s a reason Debbie Harry is on this list. With several No. 1 hits, Blondie’s lead lady has to make this list.

9.Grace Slick

While the clip I provided is a double shot of Jefferson Airplane, it shows Grace Slick and Co. doing what they do best. While the background melts and swirls, Slick’s classic “White Rabbit” drone is and has been a force to be reckoned with ever since the song was conceived in 1967.

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8.Pat Benatar

Remember when MTV was actually Music Television? Well, our No. 8 Pat Benatar was one of the most heavily-played artists in the early days. While “Heartbreaker” is one hell of a rocking song, there’s is no way we can forget her other many hits such as “Love Is A Battlefield,” “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “We Belong,” and “Invincible.”

7.Stevie Nicks

You cannot have a list of females like this without including Stevie Nicks. If you’re a fan of rock n’ roll, then of course you know Stevie through Fleetwood Mac, her duets with Tom Petty and Don Henley, Buckingham Nicks, and work with Warren Zevon. There’s a lot to talk about but Stevie has more that earned her place here.

6.Kim Deal

You know you have a right to be here when you had a friendship with Kurt Cobain, Throwing Muses’ Tanya Donelly, GBV’s Robert Pollard, Slint’s drummer Britt Walford, Steve Albini, and Kim Gordon. Known for her roles in The Pixies and The Breeders — don’t forget The Amps too — Kim helped shape music for the 90’s and beyond. I’ll always remember when I saw Radiohead’s frontman Thom Yorke being interviewed on The Pixies influences. “You tend to watch Kim Deal because it’s like what is she going to do now,” Yorke said. It’s statements like that that earn her a place on this list.

5. Chrissie Hynde

Chrissie Hynde had to be number 5 on the list. With the debut of Pretenders in 1980, Hynde and Co. became an important figures in rock, new wave, and punk rock. With songs such as “Brass In Pocket,” “The Adultress,” and “Back On The Chain Gang” — to name a few — The Pretenders helped shape the 80’s. It’s also a fact that Hynde has a daughter in 1983 with Ray Davies of The Kinks — now that’s badass!

4.Patti Smith

With a release like Horses how could Patti not crack the top 5. This “punk poet laureate” would do just that and infuse poetry into her rock. She was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 and has won the National Book Award for her memoir Just Kids in 2010. Nearing the age of 70, Smith still performs to this day. She’s also writing a second book. Many artists such as Madonna, Courtney Love, Michael Stipe, and Shirley Manson site Smith as an influence on them.

3. Joan Jett

To quote Joan Jett, “Girls have got balls. They’re just a little higher up, that’s all.” With The Blackhearts, Jett created such hits as “I Love Rock N Roll,” “Bad Reputation,” and with The Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb.” Inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame just recently, Jett has had three albums that have gone certified platinum or gold and is known as the godmother of punk.

2. Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin really needs no introduction here. Her voice, style, and attitude broke the mold of what the female singer was in the mid 60’s. Her breakthrough came when she preformed with Big Brother and the Holding Company at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. While she was taken from us to soon, her influence, legacy, and personality will always help us remember this box of pearls.

1.Sister Rosetta Tharpe

If you’re unfamiliar with Sister Rosetta Tharpe, then I suggest that you fix that. She’s known as “the original soul sister” and “the godmother of rock n’ roll.” She was so important that her influences affected Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash among others. Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a true pioneer and is truly No. 1.

Honorable mentions: Nancy and Ann Wilson (Heart), Suzi Quatro, Kathleen Hannah, Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, Karen O, Liz Phair, and Alanis Morissette

Photo credit: By Albert B. Grossman Management (personal manager), New York. (eBay item photo front photo back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

13 comments to “Women that rock: Top 10 Women of Rock”
  1. Pat Benatar and Joan Jett?Three songs each played ad naseum on classic rock radio. But no Ronstadt?A seminal figure in American rock and roll and a pure, natural vocalist with the best muscians swarming around her.

  2. Kim Deal is the best. I saw Pixies twice with her and once without, and it was not the same. She is also from my hometown, Dayton, OH!

    Technically she is from Kettering which is one town over from mine, but we share a roller rink.

  3. Linda Ronstadt was an amazing singer, but not much of a rocker. Not a big fan of pat benatar but she rocked more than Linda. SQ was basically a non-entity in the US as a musician, and that is a shame

    • Ronstadt was a versatile performer the way Bowie and Madonna were. But this has been used against her by rock revisionists.

      Ronstadt’s rockers:
      “You’re No Good”
      “How do I Make You?”
      “Hurts so Bad”
      “Get Closer”
      Living in the USA”
      “It’s So Easy”
      “Just One Look”
      “When Will I be Loved?”
      “I Can’t Let Go”
      “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”
      “All That You Dream”
      “Tumbling Dice”

      And Stevie Nicks, Heart, Bonnie Raitt and Tina Turner belong on this list.

  4. Um, has no one mentioned that this list is absolutely ludicrous? All you need to know is that Chrissy Hynde & Joan Jett will never top Stevie Nicks on a list of greatest rock ‘n roll anything!! Well, maybe “rock’s greatest overrated poseurs. “Brass in my Pocket” or whatever it’s called, sounds like it was lifted from a Shania Twain album! Joan Jett belongs higher than Nicks but let’s be very clear about this: Jett & Hynde both capitalized on the then growing punk movement. Just look at their BS attire, hairstyles. I can see right through their leather & spiked hair with ease. Stevie Nicks wrote some of the best rock ‘n roll tunes that anyone will ever hear! Period! To have her at number 7 is almost as absurd as this writer’s claim to know which way is up!

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