Rock and roll has been celebrated across the globe by multiple generations throughout the years, being praised for its innovation and long lasting impression on today’s music scene. This genre is so famous that it even has its own hall of fame, initiating new artists and bands each year with an ever-growing celebration of music. Over 350 bands have had the honor of being inducted into this spectacle of rock and roll throughout the ages; however, women amount to only 8% of all inductees. This Women’s History Month, let’s take some time to reflect on the women who impacted not only the rock and roll genre, but the music scene as we know it today. Of all the women listed below, none have been initiated into the Rock & Roll Hall of fame as of 2023, but should definitely be considered for future inductee classes.
The first all-female band to hit the rock and roll scene of the ‘70s was originally seen by the public as a marketing scheme, though they eventually grew into one of the most famous bands to come out of the ‘70s. The Runaways produces stars such as Joan Jett, Cherie Currie, and Lita Ford, who still make waves in the industry to this day. The Runaways paved the way for many women in rock to come after them, as they were willing to push the boundaries of women in music no matter the cost. These women were not afraid to express their sexuality, fight for their right to rock amongst the men, and to be treated as equals in the music scene. Single-handedly, The Runaways tore down barrier after barrier for the women of rock and roll who would succeed them decades after their split in 1977.
One of the most iconic women to come out of the rock and roll scene of the ‘80s, Lita Ford made her name known in the industry after The Runaways went their separate ways. Her most iconic album, Lita (1988), had two hit singles, “Kiss Me Deadly” and “Close My Eyes Forever,” that made their way into the Billboard Hot 100. “Kiss Me Deadly” was also ranked the 76th best hard rock song of all time by VH1. Lita Ford inspired a generation of young women to enter the music scene and follow her lead in being a pioneer for women in hard rock. Even today, rock and roll fans across the globe recognize Lita Ford as one of the most iconic women to lead the genre in the late ‘80s.
Making their debut in the late ‘80s, Vixen found immediate success in the glam rock genre with their self-titled album Vixen. This album produced two hit singles entitled “Edge of a Broken Heart” and “Cryin’,” both of which would earn a spot in the top of the Billboard Hot 100. After their album release, Vixen would travel the world with artists such as Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne, and the Scorpions. Over the years Vixen has had multiple reunions, but no matter how long the span is between each album, fans of Vixen are tried and true. These women have cemented themselves as some of the most iconic women to step into the glam rock scene and have truly made a name for themselves within the genre.
While not as hard rockin’ as the artists previously mentioned, The Waitresses made a name for themselves within the early alternative rock genre of the early ‘80s. While The Waitresses never amassed to the commercial successes as some of the others on this list, their contribution to music today is undeniable. The women of the group were able to set themselves apart from all others in their genre and truly make a name and sound for themselves over the years. Their new wave sound and many of their stylistic elements have paved the way for women in other alternative genres of the ‘90s and early 2000s.
With their hit album Spring Session M., Missing Persons set themselves as one of the pioneers of the Space Age aesthetic of alternative music. All four singles on the album charted high on the Billboard Hot 100 and have remained hits in the new wave genre for decades. The album would also find itself in Billboard’s top 25 albums of the year. While many bands refused to have a female lead in pursuit of commercial success, Missing Persons took the opportunity to set themselves apart and make their image different from others. Not only did they push the limits of their genre, but the band also pushed the limits of their own aesthetic image, causing many other bands to pursue their look in search of that same success.
All in all, each of these women have contributed to their genre and have laid the groundwork for the women who have come after them. During Women’s History Month, it’s important to not only recognize the women who have paved the way for the women of today, but also to recognize that there is still work to be done. Hopefully throughout the years, more women are inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and are recognized for their contributions to the genre just as much as their male counterparts.