The rock’ n’ roll scene would be very different if it wasn’t for the talent and efforts of some of the greatest female artists who had a hand in shaping the music we know and love today. From the classic 1970s rock days to the hair-raising’ 80s bands and the 1990s grunge age, female performers have shown that they have what it takes to compete and surpass the guys on stage.
Here are the top 5 greatest female lead acts.
#5 – Garbage
Scottish singer, Shirley Manson is certainly one of the coolest females in rock. Garbage front-woman is not only renowned for her unmistakable vocals and angst lyrics, but she is also a feminist icon that supports women and underrepresented communities. She was in two other bands, Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie and Angelfish before joining Garbage. With hits like I’m Only Happy When It Rains and Why Do You Love Me,Shirley has displayed her impressive vocal range continuously, oscillating from snarls to an airy lilt without fueling too much melancholy.
#4 – The Cranberries
Dolores O’Riordan produced some of the biggest rock songs of the nineties with her band, The Cranberries. Her lofty Limerick accent, emotional range, and Gaelic lilt made the group stand out, giving us hits like Lingerand Zombie. Speaking publicly in 2017 about her fight with bipolar disorder earned her an even bigger following. There was an unprecedented outpouring of emotion following her demise in 2018.
#3 – Patti Smith Group
‘The Godmother of Punk,’ needs no introduction. The Patti Smith Group was led by Patti Smith. Her blending of rock and poetry on her 1975 debut album, Horses, made her an iconic figure, particularly in the NYC punk scene. Her influence has spread to mainstream artists like U2, REM, and The Smiths. Fans venerate her as one of the best female rock singers of all time. Smith has also become an author praised for her many literary works, particularly her memoir, Just Kids. Patti Smith has been inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and like so many of the greatest rock artists continues to be an icon for all aspiring musicians.
#2 – The Runaways, Joan Jett And The Blackhearts
Often referred to as the queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Joan Jett has a rich legacy which includes establishing The Runaways with Lita Ford, Cherie Currie, Jackie Fox, and Sandy West, and later her band Joan Jett and The Blackhearts. Known as a passionate feminist, Jett made her mark with songs like Bad Reputation and The Blackhearts interpretation of the I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll song by The Arrows. She got a long overdue accolade in 2015 when she was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame for her work as the lead singer with The Blackhearts.
#1 – Big Brother And The Holding Company
Janis gained recognition as part of Big Brother and the Holding Company. She rapidly rose to be one of the greatest female rock musicians of the 60s and great rock and blues singer-songwriter. She pursued a solo career after working with The Holding Company, adding songs like Mercedes Benz to a legacy that included Down On Me and Ball and Chain. While her voice will never be forgotten, she died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27; and in 1995, she was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
The list of female leads is a long one and their influence reaches far and wide. They have dominated the rock scene for a long time, whether they were recognized for it or not.