Skip to main content

Women of Rock!

by Olivia Cunning
There aren't very many women rock stars. I admire those few have crushed the glass ceiling (guitar?) and made it in a male-dominated music genre.

One of my favorite rock bands is Heart. Ann Wilson, who has one of the most beautiful voices in rock 'n' roll, and her younger sister, Nancy Wilson, who has amazing skills on the electric guitar, became superstars not once, but twice. In the mid-seventies, they released several successful albums and had hits such as Barracuda, Crazy on You, Magic Man, and the softer Dog and Butterfly.

In the late 80s, Heart had several more hits, including These Dreams, What About Love, Never, and Alone. This summer they are on tour with Def Leppard. You know I want to see that show. I heart Heart. (and had major crushes on the members of Def Leppard in the 80s...)

Another group of women who made it big in the rock 'n' roll genre are The Runaways. This was a band completely composed of teenage girls. There's even a movie about their rise to fame. Have you seen it? They were more successful in Japan than in the US, but what blows me away is that when they were on tour, their opening bands were huge names like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Cheap Trick, and Van Halen. Those were their opening bands. You go, girls! Their best known single is Cherry Bomb.

Even though the group broke up in 1978, most of the members continued in the rock music genre. The lead guitarist, Lita Ford, did a duet with Ozzy Ozbourne (Close My Eyes Forever) and had a big hit in the eighties called Kiss Me Once. The woman wails on the electric guitar.

Personal bias here, but the rhythm guitarist of The Runaways, Joan Jett, is in my opinion the hardest rocking woman in the business. I adore her. Total fangirl here. I want to be her when I grow up. My favorite of her songs is I Love Rock 'n' Roll.

I can't listen to this song without singing it at the top of my lungs. Aren't you glad this isn't Skype. :-)

These women were the rock 'n' roll trail blazers. I admire them for following their dreams and bringing music I love into the world and sharing it with millions.

Some more recent rock groups that I love that have female band members or singers include:

Evanescence. Their lead singer, Amy Lee, has the voice of an angel. I used to sing this song with my son every morning on the way to his junior high school. Ah, memories. This is Bring Me to Life. It's on the playlist of my first novel, Backstage Pass.

Sick Puppies. Their talent bassist, Emma Anzai, is a blast to watch in concert! I love their live shows. This is one of their many, many hits: You're Going Down.

Skillet. There are two women in this band. The rhythm guitarist, Korey Cooper (who is married to the lead singer), and the drummer/vocalist, Jen Ledger. I'm not sure how one drums as hard as she does and still manages to sing, but she's awesome. Here's their song Awake and Alive. Awesome!

Okay, one more. And then I'll rock out quietly on my own...

Halestorm. This is a relatively new band. I saw them in concert last summer. They rocked. The lead singer, Lzzy Hale, also plays guitar. This song will be on my fictional drummer's play list when his book comes out. If you've read Backstage Pass and/or Rock Hard, you'll totally get why this song MUST be on Eric Sticks' playlist. It's called I Get Off.

I admire all rock stars (obviously). I wanted to be a rock star as a teenager. My attempts to play the guitar are laughable, and I don't think I have the right attitude. What I wouldn't give to walk a mile in the leather of any one of these lady rockers.

Who are some of your favorite female musicians? They don't have to be rockers... ;-)


  1. Olivia, love your post! I can see you with a guitar and an attitude rocking away on stage! You know that I'm a big fan of country music. My favorites among the ladies there would have to be Miranda Lambert,the great Loretta Lynn, Sara Evans and Reba McIntire.

  2. Great post!

    I love Heart. Went to Def Leopard once and wound up...deaf! Bring earplugs!

    I'm especially fond of some you mentioned. I've also seen Pat Benatar in concert. She's rockin' just as hard as ever. Her husband plays a guitar solo that goes on for at least 15 minutes. LOL. Gives her a chance to rest her powerful voice.

  3. Great post, Olivia! I'm like Ash, went to a concert and couldn't hear for hours afterward! :)

  4. Like you, I love Heart. I've always loved Pat Benatar, Joan Jett, and Debbie Harry of Blondie as well. Now, I have to confess I enjoy Lady Gaga :)

  5. OMG, I'm listening to Skillet right now.
    I LOVE that drummer in Awake and Alive. She's freaking awesome. Such a voice. And to drum while signing. Holy moly.

    Heart is awesome, too. Have you seen the VH1 behind the music about them? That's a pretty cool story. I've watched it a couple times.

    Rock on!

  6. Thanks for rocking my morning with those videos, Olivia! I love all those bands, especialy Heart in the '70s. But I have to admit I'm a little bit of a folky. I wanted to be Joni Mitchell when I grew up. Still do! And I love Loreena McKennitt.

  7. Good morning, ladies! If you go to enough concerts, it doesn't bother your ears after awhile. Of course, you become permanently deaf.

  8. Pat Benatar. I've seen her perform a number of times of over the decades, and she never disappoints. And day-um, her husband, guitarist Neil Giraldo, just gets hotter ever year.

    And? Pink. Great writer, and a FABULOUS live performer, with absolutely no assist from AutoTune. My favorite Pink performance evah:

    Youngsters, watch and learn.

  9. LOL! Why am I not surprised that you would pick these talented ladies for your post? As a lead guitarist wannabe, all I can say is, ROCK ON!!!!

  10. Alanis Morissette is a rocker whose music I can always enjoy. Her songs are catchy and the lyrics are meaningful to me as well.

  11. Olivia,

    I'm impressed with your knowledge of female rockers! Thanks for sharing


  12. I like Heart too! I saw them in concert years ago. I also always liked Madonna.

  13. I like to be predictable, Cheryl. :-)

  14. I love your list of female rockers. I also love Lacuna Coil. Her voice is gorgeous. Spellbound is my favorite song of theirs.

  15. I totally forgot about Lacuna Coil! I've seen them in concert too. She's pretty hard core.

  16. Lady musicians? Um, how about Clara Schumann? Robert Schumann wrecked his hand trying to short-cut his way to virtuosic piano skills, but he had a back up plan: He'd marry his piano teacher's brilliant daughter, and SHE could make his compositions famous-which she did. Because she was female, and knew she had to be better than the guys, she also started the tradition of playing entire concerts from memory. And yes, she also had five kids, and looked after them all in addition to taking care of her husband when he fell prey to premature senility.
    Some say she also started the fad of turning the piano sideways to the audience to show off the performer's technique, others say this was Franz Liszt's trick.

    I think old Franz copied Clara, myself. And what does it say about us, that 150 years later, women are still dealing with that glass whatever, even when they're brilliantly talented?

  17. What an amazing line-up, Olivia! You've got one of my personal favs here, HEART. :}

  18. What a fabulous post!!!

    My friends, let us not forget Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. Like Joan Jett, she smashed that glass ceiling to bits and is still just so cool.

    My personal favorite was the all-girl kick-ass punk band Babes in Toyland. Their shows at CBGBs still ring in my ears.

    Re. Clara Schumann, at the time she was considered the premiere pianist and was more famous than her husband. They kept a marriage diary which is very illuminating:

    Thanks for such an inspiring post!


Post a Comment