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Women Who Rocked The World

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Women Who Rocked The World

Rock music has always featured women artists who have influenced famous musicians of their own as well as subsequent generations, across genres. Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, Chrissie Hynde, Stevie Nicks, etc, the list of stars is long. It wasn’t long after the birth of the rock genre that the first all-female bands like The Runaways and Fanny came onto the scene. The female artists made their mark as much with their songwriting skills as with their versatile vocal styles and skillful mastery of various instruments.

Here are some of our favourites:

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin's influence is inversely proportionate to the span of her rocking career, all of three years, between her breakthrough performance of ‘Piece of my Heart’ with Big Brother and The Holding Company at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and her premature death from a drug overdose in 1970 at the age of 27. She is well remembered for her innovative fusion of hard rock and blues, her psychedelic influence reflected in her lifestyle and the huge impact she made again at the Woodstock festival in 1969.

Chrissie Hynde

Singer, songwriter and guitarist, Chrissie Hynde struggled through the 70s trying to form her own band, succeeding only after a record label owner sampled her demo tape and helped her assemble The Pretenders. Their self-titled debut album in 1979 dominated rock‘s new wave through the following decade, surviving many personnel changes and much inter-personal conflict.

Best-known song: "Back on the Chain Gang"

Grace Slick

She imported psychedelic imagery into rock straight from Lewis Carrol with the pioneers of the genre: Jefferson Airplane, singing “One pill makes you bigger and one pill makes you small And the one that Mama gave you does nothing at all” in White Rabbit from the album ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ in 1967. “Somebody to Love” was another hit she gave the band which later became known as Jefferson Starship and then Starship. She retired from her musical career in 89 to paint and draw professionally.

Pat Benatar

She was a simple bank teller before she began counting her successes as a singing, song-writing rock star. One of the earliest women to be reckoned as a hard rock proponent, her very first album ‘In the Heat of the Night’ in 1979 was a success. The release of her second album ‘Crimes of Passion’ was happily timed to coincide with the launch of MTV in 1981 and she enjoys her place in history as the artist with the maximum exposure on TV in the alt rock, new wave and punk categories.

Best known song: ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’.

Joan Jett

One of the earliest all-female rock bands, The Runaways, in the 70s, has given us one of the most popular anthems to stomp our feet to ‘I love Rock n Roll’ in 1981 and formed her own, even more successful band, The Blackhearts. She set trends that lasted the decade in terms of dress and attitude, playing guitar with finesse and wowing her audiences.

Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975 as a vocalist and songwriter. She also played the keyboards and has been cited by artists in various genres, such as Sheryl Crowe, Courtney Love, Taylor Swift, Dixie Chicks, Michelle Branch, Mary J Blige Kelly Clarkson and Tori Amos as a major influence on their music. She also launched a solo career in 1981 while continuing with the band whom she gave her best-known song ‘Dreams’.

Suzi Quatro

Suzi Quatro, in 1973, was the first female bass guitarist and garage rocker to have made it big. Patti Quatro, her sister, was part of the first all-female band  Fanny, to sign up with a major label.  She gained attention in her native America with her recurring role on the TV series, Happy Days, and released "Stumblin' In" -- a duet with British vocalist Chris Norman in 1978. She was also a record producer and radio host.

Best known songs: "Can the Can" / "48 Crash" / "Devil Gate Drive" / "Stumblin' In"

Patti Smith

Also nicknamed "Godmother of Punk", Patti Smith put out a classic debut album, Horses (1975) which resides on the "greatest albums" lists of magazines like Rolling Stone, Time, and NME. The artists Patti Smith has influenced aren’t just punk rockers but range from serious rock band U2 to Shirley Manson.  Her best-known song "Because The Night" was co-written with Bruce Springsteen. In addition to performing, she is also a prolific author and social activist.

Ann Wilson & Nancy Wilson

They were two attractive sisters who fronted the band called Heart in 1973. While Ann was the lead singer, songwriter and a multi-instrumentalist, Nancy was a guitarist as well as a songwriter. After their debut album, Dreamboat Annie in 1976, Ann and, with Heart, Nancy Wilson has had Top 10 albums in every decade since.

Best known songs: "Magic Man" / "Crazy On You" / "Barracuda"