‘Go Your Own Way’: 10 of the best female rock stars

Stevie Nicks, courtesy of Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Today is International Women’s Day and what better way to celebrate than look at 10 women who have shaped Rock and Roll over the last 50 years.

Without the music of the following 10 women, rock past and present would be much different. They all proved that you do not need to be a man to rock out.

We start off with arguably the most influential, Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac.

Stevie Nicks

Described as “The Queen of Rock and Roll,” Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975 with her boyfriend and member Lindsey Buckingham. Her inclusion marked a significant rise in their popularity, thanks to the iconic album “Rumours.”

She wrote “Dreams,” which was the band’s first and only U.S. number one hit. Nicks has enjoyed a long solo career and has rejoined Fleetwood Mac for several tours since they initially broke up. Relive the hit below performed live during their 2015 reunion.

Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry of the legendary New Wave band Blondie became a huge role model for women during the late 70’s.

1978’s “Parallel Lines” was their breakout album, producing such hits as “One Way Or Another” and my personal favorite “Heart of Glass.”  The music video for it paints a great scene of post-Disco New York City…songs like this made “Saturday Night Fever” a novelty.

Florence Welch

Moving forward a few years, Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine blew up in 2009 with her debut album, “Lungs.”

The Scottish singer has released three albums with her band, most recently with 2015’s “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.” After three albums in six years, fans are anxiously awaiting the release of her fourth LP. Check out her biggest hit below, “Dog Days Are Over.”

Heart 

Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart weren’t afraid to pick up guitars during the height of the Disco era.  Nancy Wilson is legitimately one of the best guitarists of all-time, watch her insanely fast finger picking below on their giant hit, “Crazy on You.”

When you pair her skills with Ann’s incredible range as a vocalist, the results are seven top ten albums and four Grammy nominations.

Chrissie Hynde

Deciding between Hynde and Pat Benatar for this spot was difficult, but Hynde’s moniker as the Pretenders has produced better music, plus she’s still active.

Her story is an interesting one. Born in Akron, Ohio, Hynde decided to move to London in 1973 for a change of scenery. After working on some demos with The Clash, she formed The Pretenders in 1978 with the British friends. Debut album, self-titled “Pretenders” was an instant classic and the rest is history.

Karen O

She just doesn’t care and that makes her appeal so great. Her band, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, reached massively popularity during the rise of indie rock at the beginning of the 2000’s.

Her raw style is so unique, making their live performances unpredictable. Check out the quick cut “Date With The Night” live on Letterman and their mega-hit “Maps” below.

Bonus – “Maps” (Top 50 songs ever recorded)

Janis Joplin

Women have been paving their way into rock long before the 70’s and 80’s. Janis Joplin was a huge influence during “summer of love” at the end of the 70’s.

She sadly died in 1970 at the age of 27, just a few weeks after Jimi Hendrix. She went on the influence many other woman rock stars after her, including Florence Welch listed above.

Gwen Stefani

The queen of the 90’s rock may have been Gwen Stefani with No Doubt.

The group was founded in 1993 and mixed in reggae, funk and ska into pop, which skyrocketed them into the surface of the mainstream and led to a Super Bowl halftime performance.

Annie Lennox

“Sweet Dreams are made of this!” exclaims Lennox during one of the most popular songs of the 1980’s.  Her short hair and suit was the exact opposite of pop stars at the time like Madonna.

Eurythmics main run lasted from 1980-1990. After that, Lennox went on to have an extremely successful solo career, which is a little tamer and more “poppy” than the Eurythmics.

Lauren Mayberry

Wrapping up this with one of the most outspoken women in music right now, CHVRCHES lead singer Lauren Mayberry.

Since the Scottish band’s rise in 2012, she’s been quick to speak out against social injustices and women’s issues.  Their brand of synth pop is extremly addictive, producing one of the best debut albums of all-time. Original lyrics of their first hit, “The Mother We Share,” are displayed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Currently gearing up for their third album due out in May, the band just released an infectious first single called “My Enemy” with the help of The National’s Matt Berninger.

If you’re a woman that’s into music, don’t be afraid to pick up a guitar or sing in a band. Rock and Roll is not just a men’s club, as these ten women have proved.