Women in Classic Rock Part 2: The 70s

When writing my essay on the representation of women in classic rock from the 60s to the 80s, I noticed a trend of increasing involvement and influence of women in rock music starting in the late 60s. More than singing and being album cover models. Representation really matters and without these amazing ladies, maybe girls in the future wouldn’t have considered that they could be rock stars too. Women were also writing songs and singing them as well. The late 60s had the rise of female singer-songwriters, but they really flourished in the 70s. 1975-1977 were big years for women in rock because bands like Fleetwood Mac, Heart, and The Runaways released albums. Many people remember the Stevie Nicks/Lindsay Buckingham/Mick Fleetwood/Christine McVie/John McVie lineup the best of any incarnation of Fleetwood Mac. Heart’s songs were the baby of Ann and Nancy Wilson, who were responsible for pretty much all of the songwriting in their 70s albums: Dreamboat Annie, Magazine, Little Queen, and Dog and Butterfly. The Runaways was what launched the careers and brought attention to Joan Jett and Lita Ford. Progressive rock, while predominantly male had a few women involved: Sonja Kristina of Curved Air, Inga Rumpf of Frumpy, Kate Bush, and Annie Haslam of Renaissance. In punk, X-Ray Spex and Siouxie and the Banshees were fronted by Poly Styrene and Siouxie Sioux, respectively. Patti Smith was also important in the punk scene. In ska, Pauline Black was in The Selecter and The Bodysnatchers were an all girl group. Women weren’t just singers in rock bands, Tina Weymouth played bass in the Talking Heads. Suzi Quatro played bass as well as singing. Karen Carpenter was also a drummer. Poison Ivy played guitar for The Cramps. Christine McVie played keyboards for Fleetwood Mac.

Like the last post, I will post my top 20 moments of women rocking out. However, this time it’s the 70s turn to dazzle and amaze. These are in no particular order:

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Women in Classic Rock Part 1: The 60s

Women’s History Month may almost be over, but we can celebrate the accomplishments of women in various fields every day. Many think classic rock is a men’s game, but there have been many women who have shaped classic rock and have made it what it is today and without them it wouldn’t be the same. I wrote a paper two years ago about the contributions to songwriting women have made in the 60s, 70s, and 80s and how it increased. For example, in the 60s there were many girl groups and solo female musicians that mostly sang pop and soul/R&B music. Some of these that come to mind are The Ronettes, Shangri-Las, Marvelettes, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Mary Wells, Tammi Terrell, Dusty Springfield, The Crystals, Nancy Sinatra, Helen Shapiro, and The Chiffons. Later on in the 60s came the rise of influence of female singer-songwriters like Laura Nyro, Grace Slick, Janis Joplin, Vashti Bunyan, and Sandy Denny. There really weren’t women in rock until the late 60s, however one rock pioneer, Sister Rosetta Tharpe started recording in the 40s and 50s and was influential to greats like Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, and Elvis. She was highly influenced by gospel music. Here’s a video of her in the 60s:

I’ll be highlighting my 20 favourite women in classic rock/oldies moments (in no particular order) of the 60s with some videos and fun facts about the musicians.

Continue reading “Women in Classic Rock Part 1: The 60s”

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