Women Who Rock

By Aviva Lev-Aviv

It’s time to honour some of the fierce ladies in rock, past and present. In a primarily male-dominated scene, it is not always easy for women to establish themselves as tough rockers that are just as legitimate as their male counterparts, but these gals have worked hard to successfully do just that. Their confidence and talent are admirable and each one is responsible for some incredible tunes.

Janis JoplinJanis Joplin credit to Baron Wolman via Rolling Stone

Bands: Big Brother and The Holding Company, solo artist

Era: 1960s

Town:  San Francisco, CA

Style: Soulful psychedelic rock

Essential Track: “Ball and Chain” (1967)

Janis Joplin is a good choice for obvious reasons. A total powerhouse, her raspy voice oozes with emotion, and her self-assured stage presence is inspiring. Her raw, bluesy sound was a big hit in the 1960s and still continues to deeply impact listeners.

Courtney LoveCourtney Love

Band: Hole

Era: 1990s

Town: Seattle, WA

Style: Alternative, Grunge

Essential Track: “Violet” (1994)

While you may roll your eyes at her crazy antics and zany attempts at attracting the media’s attention, Courtney Love really is one talented and ballsy chick. Her band, Hole, was wildly successful during the grunge explosion of the ‘90s, with loud, commanding songs and vocals featuring her signature growl. The band seamlessly combines influences of both hard rock and power pop into their music, making for accessible and impactful songs.

Grace SlickGrace Slick credit to Jim Marshall

Bands: Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship

Era: 1960s

Style: Psychedelic rock

Essential Track: “Somebody to Love” (1967)

A deep, rich voice and unapologetic swagger earns Grace Slick her rightful place on this list. A product of the 1960s psychedelic rock craze, her band, Jefferson Airplane, had a knack for churning out songs that became anthems of the decade. From the minute you hear Slick’s eerie crooning on their 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow, you will be hooked.

Becky Black and Maya MillerThe Pack AD crecit to the packaddotcom

Band: The Pack A.D.

Era: Current

Town: Vancouver, BC

Style: Garage Rock

Essential Track: “Sirens” (2011)

The Pack A.D. may only use guitar and drums, but their music is certainly not lacking. With driving beats and explosive choruses in every song, the Canadian duo has plenty of power. Singer Becky Black’s dark but upbeat vocals make for tunes that will stick around in your head, and the drummer, Maya Miller, will have you tapping your foot each time you listen.

Amanda ZelinaAmanda Zelina credit to thecopportonedotcom

Band: The Coppertone

Era: Current

Town: King City, ON

Style:  Blues rock

Essential Track: “I Know the Dead” (2011)

The Coppertone is a remarkable Canadian band that draws from old-fashioned blues and gives it a modern rock twist. Singer and guitarist Amanda Zelina has a warm, smoky voice that is perfectly paired with the fuzzed-out guitars and pounding drums, making for music that is impossible to stay still to. Zelina gets extra points for her capabilities on slide guitar, as well as her cool vintage look.

More Ladies and Their Best Tracks

Kim Deal: The Breeders, The Pixies – “Cannonball” (1993), “Gigantic” (1988)

Emma Richardson: Band of Skulls – “I Know What I Am” (2010)

Nancy and Ann Wilson: Heart – “Crazy on You” (1976)

Stevie Nicks: Fleetwood Mac – “The Chain” (1977)

Feist:  “How Come You Never Go There” (2012)

Kathleen Hanna: Bikini Kill – “Rebel Girl” (1992)

Alison Mosshart: The Kills – “Future Starts Slow” (2011)


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