Heavy rock and metal has been around for quite some time, and while there are so many incredible men who have contributed to the genres, many of them happily identify women in the scene as distinct influences on their work.
Here are ten women who were at the very forefront of heavy rock and metal, with their influences still being felt to this day.
When it comes to discussing influential women in rock history, you absolutely cannot skip over Janis Joplin. In terms of musical style, she adopted more of a psychedelic blues sound herself, but her impact on the genre reaches far beyond her specific sound. Joplin’s expressiveness and sense of self in a time where society still had expectations on how a woman should behave were quite frankly groundbreaking. Janis wasn’t afraid of embracing her sexuality on stage and was also one of the first artists to sport a visible tattoo while in the public eye.
After forming the incredibly electrifying outfit The Runaways, Joan Jett went on her own under Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Cited as the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll and the Godmother of Punk, Joan Jett paved the way for women in rock, and was rightfully inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015.
Dubbed the Queen of Heavy Metal, Doro Pesch became known for her time fronting Warlock, and her following solo career. She was one of the first women in heavy metal to be identified and celebrated for her voice and stage presence rather than her image.
Regardless of the celebrity image of Courtney Love and her association with Kurt Cobain, it is undeniable that with her band Hole she put out some incredible tracks throughout the 1990s. Love’s presence on stage is absolutely incredible, and we cannot forget the influence she has had on modern rock.
Mysterious yet transparent, elusive yet ever-present, Stevie Nicks was never afraid to touch on issues like heartbreak and drug addiction in her lyrics. One could even say that without her, Fleetwood Mac would not have nearly as much success as they did.
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Lead by the sister duo Ann and Nancy Wilson, Heart took the foundations made by Joplin and Fanny and took them to a new level. Emotive guitar and powerful vocals helped make Heart a household name in the 1970s.
A songwriter, bassist, singer and bandleader, Suzi Quatro did it all. She was one of the earliest examples of a jack of all trades in the genre of rock. “I was the first to be taken seriously as a female rock ‘n’ roll musician and singer. That hadn’t been done before,” she later told the Metro Times. “I played the boys at their own game.”
Fanny was an American all-female band, active in the early 1970s. They were one of the first notable rock groups to be made up entirely of women, the third to sign with a major label (after Goldie & the Gingerbreads and the Pleasure Seekers), and the first to release an album on a major label (in 1970). They achieved two top 40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and released five albums.
“As a girl, you couldn’t tell anyone ‘I’m in a band,’” guitarist June Millington later told the Guardian. “You might as well say ‘I’m flying to the moon.’ It just wasn’t in the realm of experience. We had to create our own frame — and then step into it.”
Lzzy Hale (Halestorm)
Halestorm have come a long way as one of rock’s leading torchbearers. Frontwoman Lzzy Hale began writing original music with her drummer brother Arejay since she was 13 years old, and the year later, Halestorm was born. On all of Halestorm’s full-length studio albums, Lzzy delivers a poppy-yet-hard rock style both on vocals and guitar. Her presence in the track ‘Love Bites (So Do I)’ helped cement a 2013 Grammy win for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance.
Girlschool, the hard-partying all-female metal outfit from England have been at it for almost four decades. They were one of the late Lemmy Kilmister’s favourite bands and for good reason.