15 Women That Have Shaped Rock N' Roll

March 8, 2019

Rock n' Roll would be in a much different place were it not for the talent and efforts of some of the greatest female artists that had a hand in shaping the music that we know and love today. From the days of classic rock in the '70s, to the hair-raising hairbands of the '80s, along with the grungy '90s and the modern rockers of the new millennium, female artists have proven that they have what it takes to stand toe-to-toe with the guys onstange, and in many cases outshine them!

Below is a list of women throughout the ages that have helped shape rock n' roll, and remain a constant influence today.

1. Janis Joplin (Big Brother and The Holding Company)

One of the first female artists to branch out into the rock world versus gravitating towards folk and pop of the '60s, Janis Joplin served as a major influence on both male and female artists. Next to Jimi Hendrix, she was one of the major artists to perform at Woodstock in 1969 and sadly died of an overdose of drugs (presumed heroin) at the age of 27.

2. Tina Turner

Although she rose to fame in the late '70s as part of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, her solo career skyrocketed after divorcing from Ike after years of physical abuse. She was inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

3. Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac)

Since joining Fleetwood Mac in 1975, Nicks proved herself to not only be an invulauable asset as a vocalist, but also as a talented songwriter. Like many of the women on this list, Nicks has also embarked on a successful solo career as well.

4. Joan Jett (The Runaways/Joan Jett + The Blackhearts)

After achieving success at a young age with her all-female punk rock band The Runaways, Jett would later front the more successful Joan Jett + The Blackhearts, which came out with such hits as "I Love Rock 'n' Roll", "I Hate Myself for Loving You", and "Bad Reputation."

5. Lita Ford (The Runaways/Lita Ford)

Former Runaways guitarist and bandmate of Joan Jett, Lita Ford rose to fame in her solo career and pioneered the way for women in the hair metal genre of the '80s. 

6. Debbie Harry (Blondie)

With hits like "Call Me" and "Heart Of Glass", Debbie Harry established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the world of rock, and didn't let perceptions of her being a lady get in the way.

7. Pat Benatar

After going from ordinary bank teller to international rock star, Pat Benatar became a regularly played artist on MTV in the '80s with hits such as "Hit Me With Your Best Shot", "Fire and Ice", and "Love Is A Battlefield."

8 & 9. Ann & Nancy Wilson (Heart)

Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson fronted the staple '70s rock band Heart, which became famous for such hits as "Barracuda", "Crazy On You", and "Magic Man." The sisters have also embarked on successful solo careers while keeping Heart intact.

10. Patti Smith (Patti Smith Group)

Given the moniker "the godmother of punk," Patti Smith's influence spread to mainstream artists like U2, REM, and The Smiths. Her debut album Horses received a spot on Rolling Stone's "greatest albums" list, as well as on Time and NME. She has also used her platform as an author and for social activism.

11. Courtney Love (Hole)

She's the goddess of grunge and widow of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, and she's got nothing to apologize for. Courtney Love has certainly had her ups and downs, but since becoming sober and ending her feud with former Nirvana drummer/Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, things are looking up Courtney! She also commented that there should be more women active in rock n' roll

12. Amy Lee (Evanescence)

Possibly one of the most the most powerful and heavenly voices to come out of rock n' roll, Amy Lee was applying for a job as a waitress before she got the call that Evanescence has landed a record deal in the mid-2000's. Although they have been on hiatus for some time, Lee says that fans can expect to hear new Evanescence music in the future.

13. Lzzy Hale (Halestorm)

She can sing. She can growl. She can shred the guitar. And she's just getting started. Fronting the modern hard rock band Halestorm (with little brother Arejay Hale on drums), Lzzy credits Lita Ford for being a big influence of hers and for paving the way for more women in rock n' roll. 

14. Dorothy Martin (Dorothy)

She's got one of the most powerful and soulful voices in modern rock and she's part of the upsurge in new rock bands conquering the 21st century. Dorothy can also be expected to perform onstage at the Woodstock 50. 

15. Maria Brink (In This Moment)

Some call her heavy metal Lady Gaga. Others call her the female Alice Cooper. But In This Moment fans know her as Maria Brink, the theatrical frontwoman for one of the biggest touring metal acts on the road. Plus, recording a duet with Rob Halford of Judas Priest in "Black Wedding" is big sign of respect from a true metal god.