Who says Rock ‘n’ Roll is a mans game? That mentality undermines what Rock ‘n’ Roll is, an inclusive home for anyone who wants it. As such, both genders have done incredible and world-changing things to the history of Rock music, from the summer of love to the summer of punk.
As today is International Women’s Day, we here at Plugged have compiled our picks for the top 10 iconic women in Rock history, here’s our verdict.
Honourable Mentions: Justine Frischmann (Elastica), PJ Harvey, Björk, Pauline Black (The Selecter), Amelia Fletcher (Talulah Gosh)
10. Joan Jett
One of the most iconic female voices to grace the world of Punk rock, Joan Jett’s vocals went perfectly with the aesthetic of Punk. Her early work with the Runaways created hits like Cherry Bomb and Queen of Noise. Whilst her solo work consisted of such tracks as Bad Reputation.
- Florence Welch
The most recent entry on this countdown, Florence Welch is the soul and backbone of the titular Indie pop band Florence and the Machine. Simply brilliant vocal performances mixed with a great talent for lyricism puts Florence Welch on a collision course with legendary status.
- Patti Smith
Patti Smith’s 1975 debut LP Horses was monumental in establishing the original wave of Punk rock in New York. Her infusion of aggressive rock music and sensitive poetry create a sound that cannot be ignored. Her links to such acts as Iggy Pop and The Velvet Underground made her an integral part of American Punk history.
- Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton’s services to country music cannot be understated, she is possibly the most iconic musician in the genre. She’s composed over 3,000 songs, 3,000! With 25 certified Platinum albums, 25 number one singles, and 41 top ten albums, the statistics speak for themselves.
- Courtney Love
Artistically she is most known for her work with LA based Alt-rock band Hole. Inspired by the aforementioned Patti Smith, she managed to carve through the memory of her relationship with Kurt Cobain and establish her own legacy separate from her late husband. Her contralto vocal style is raw and emotive, and her lyrics are politically motivated with just the right amount of subtlety.
- Kate Bush
Kate Bush exploded onto the music scene in 1978, when her single Wuthering Heights topped the singles chart. Since then she has established herself as one of the most powerful female performers in rock and pop music. Her style blends contemporary with Avant-Garde, her style is eclectic, idiosyncratic and experimental.
- Siouxsie Sioux
New wave and post-Punk music owes a lot to a band like Siouxsie and the Banshees, especially to frontwoman Siouxsie Sioux. Songs like Hong Kong Garden and Happy House show a singer who can create unique sounds, and a songwriter who can delve into much darker topics than most others.
- Debbie Harry
Debbie Harry and her band Blondie shot to superstardom with their New Wave sound following the demise of Punk in the late 1970s. For an American artist, her sound had very British sensibilities, inspired by a desk job at the BBC’s New York office and exposure to the latest sounds coming out of Britain. Blondie were early pioneers of the music video revolution and used their strong image to establish themselves as icons, even today.
- Amy Winehouse
With a broad pallet, consisting of Rock, Soul and Jazz inspirations Amy Winehouse had one of the most iconic images and sounds of this century. Until her untimely death in 2011, Amy Winehouse had a back catalogue which consisted of the critically acclaimed albums Back to Black and Frank, the former won her five Grammy awards.
- Janis Joplin
If there is a female sound of the 1960’s, this is it. Janis Joplin’s raw, emotional and unfiltered singing style sent shockwaves through the 60’s psychedelic movement. Her stirring vocals are most well-known from her 1968 cover of Erma Franklins “Piece of my Heart”. She performed at the iconic Woodstock festival which made her one of the female voices of a counter-culture generation. She was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll hall of fame in 1995.
Words by Sam Revivo – Plugged Music Editor