Joan Jett

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10 Women Who Helped Shape Rock 'N' Roll

By: Anthony Capobianco

March 8, 2018

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 hair bands of the '80s and the grungy '90s, female artists have proven that they have what it takes to stand toe-to-toe with the guys onstage, and in many cases outshine them!

Below is a list of women that have helped shape rock 'n' roll throughout the ages and remain an 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 the 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 all too young at the age of 27.

2. Tina Turner

Widely regarded as the "Queen of Rock and Roll," Tina Turner found great success with songs like "What's Love Got to Do with It," "Proud Mary," "The Best," and "Private Dancer." She was inducted into the Rock & 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 invaluable 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.

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 paved 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. 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.

9. 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 Time​'s, NME​'s, and Rolling Stone's "greatest albums" lists. She has also used her platform for social activism and is a published author.

10. 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 has since become sober and ended her feud with former Nirvana drummer/Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl. She also commented that there should be more women active in rock 'n' roll.