In the music industry, rock and roll has been a predominantly male dominated genre since its inception, and that trend has followed the genre to this day. However, there are a number of women who have been able to break the mold and find an incredible amount of success despite the lack of diversity between genders in the genre. These women have proven that talent and hard work is a potent recipe for success, and that men aren’t the only ones that know how to rock hard. While some may be quick to dismiss these women as a novelty act, their success in the industry is a testament to their ability of withstanding unwarranted criticism, and to plow ahead in leaving their mark on listeners all across the world.
Some of the women on this list are singers, some guitarists, and one even has some incredible skills behind a drum set. Though their specific instrument of choice may differ, these women do share a similarity in the sense that they are as beautiful as they are talented, making them quite the figure in the entertainment business. Their beautiful looks aside, these women rock way harder than most men, and have found a great deal of success in the process of staying true to who they are. Maintaining artistic integrity is an incredible feat in and of itself, and each person you will find on this list has done things their way, and I’m sure their fame is correlated with that.
15. Hayley Williams
Since their formation in 2004, the band Paramore has blended a diverse sound that helped catapult them to stardom. In total, the band has released 4 albums, and 3 of them have achieved at least a platinum certification. The release of their hit “Misery Business” in 2007 brought the band to the mainstream, and propelled their second album Riot! to a double-platinum certification from the RIAA. The band’s most recent album came in 2013 with their self-titled release, and it received a platinum certification.
Fronting the band is lead singer Hayley Williams, who is as beautiful as she is talented. Hayley’s vocals are easy to recognize, as she has been a radio mainstay for nearly a decade. In 2010, she branched out from her Paramore band mates to sing vocals on the hit “Airplanes” with B.o.B. Three years later, she performed vocals for Zedd on his song “Stay the Night” which also proved to be a high hit on the radio.
14. Brody Dalle
Brody Dalle has been cutting her teeth on the punk music scene for quite some time now, but don’t let the music fool you: she’s as hot as they come. Dalle is perhaps best known for her work with the Los Angeles based punk band The Distillers who garnered quite the following during their nearly decade-long run. Dalle has also created music with her other band Spinnerette, and has released solo music as well.
If you’re a fan of some good punk music, be sure to give The Distillers a listen. I remember seeing their music videos on Fuse, and truly appreciating the talent that was in the band. Hopefully one day they will churn out some fresh music. Currently, Brody Dalle is married to Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, which means that they are one of the few couples in the world that boast incredible talent between the two of them.
13. Karen O
One of the cooler bands from the New York scene, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs found plenty of critical acclaim before their hiatus in 2014. The band released a total of 4 albums, and was nominated for a total of 3 Grammy Awards. Though the band doesn’t have an incredible amount of album sales in comparison to some of their contemporaries, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were incredibly popular and well-liked by fans of many different music genres.
Karen O was the front woman and lead singer for the group and her distinct vocal talent is one of the more alluring elements of the band. Karen has released one solo album, and was a massive contributor to the soundtrack for the movie Where the Wild Things Are back in 2009. She also has some directorial work under her belt, making her a truly diverse talent, and someone who we can look forward to for great things in the future.
12. Grace Slick
San Francisco harbored some of the greatest psychedelic bands that the music industry has been fortunate enough to have. The hippy counterculture movement during the 1960s put Haight-Ashbury on the map, and the many talented bands in the area found one another entrenched in the beautiful vibe of the area. To this day, Haight-Ashbury continues to be a unique corner in one of the most famous cities in the world. Among the bands that made their name there, Jefferson Airplane is one of the best known, and Grace Slick’s voice is one that you’re all too familiar with.
“Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit” are the band’s best known songs, and Slick’s voice has reverberated through several generations of stoners. Out of all of the hippies making their way around the Bay Area music scene in the 1960s, Grace Slick stood out as one of the most beautiful and most talented women during that time.
11. Shirley Manson
The 1990s saw a unique shift in music, and one genre that was able to stand on its own feet and be successful was industrial rock. Forged by the band Ministry and taken to new heights by Nine Inch Nails, industrial rock gave way to a new sound and some talented new acts like the band Garbage. Found in Wisconsin, Garbage would blend alternative and industrial rock to form a sound that found critical acclaim as well as mainstream success.
Anchored by singer Shirley Manson and drummer Butch Vig, Garbage remains one of the more popular alternative bands from the 1990s. Scottish-born lead singer Shirley Manson has been the only singer the band has had, and her unique voice has given their fans plenty to love for over 20 years. Even at the age of 50, Manson is still as beautiful as ever, and remains one of the most beautiful women in all of music.
10. Lita Ford
Back in the 1970s, The Runaways were one of the hardest-rocking bands on the planet, despite finding very little mainstream success in their native United States. Nevertheless, the band was as talented as they come, and boasted some seriously huge names that went on to become wildly successful as solo acts. Lita Ford was the guitarist for the band, but her solo work is what made her a household name in the 1980s. There aren’t too many guitarists who can shred like Lita Ford, and her talents didn’t go unrecognized for too long.
In 1988, Lita Ford would find her biggest mainstream hit when she released her song “Kiss Me Deadly” off of her album Lita. That same album featured a duet between Lita and music legend Ozzy Osbourne called “Close My Eyes Forever.” Though her sales waned, Ford plowed ahead, and still records and releases new music to this day.
9. Amy Lee
Very few debut albums are as successful or as well received as Evanescence’s 2003 debut Fallen. The band burst onto the music scene as alternative radio became a vehicle for success for a number of their contemporaries. What people don’t realize is that the band had formed in 1995, and had spent years crafting and perfecting their sound. It seemed that the band could do no wrong in 2003, and Fallen would become one of the biggest albums of the decade. Evanescence would be nominated for a total of 5 Grammy Awards, and ultimately win 2 of them after the album’s release.
Amy Lee is the only original member of the band that still remains, and she’s perhaps the most important. Her powerful vocal performances resonated with an entire generation of young adults, and the band still maintains a devout following. As it stands, however, there are currently no plans for a new album, and the band’s latest release was all the way back in 2011.
8. Dolores O’Riordan
Very few Irish rock bands are able to find mainstream success in the United States, but The Cranberries were able to garner a ton of success in the 1990s after MTV began to play the music video for their song “Linger” frequently. Aided by the airplay that the video was getting, “Linger” would go on to reach the number 8 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, and the single would achieve a gold certification by the RIAA. Their first 3 albums would achieve a combined total of nearly 15 million albums sold in the United States alone, making The Cranberries far more successful than most bands from the 1990s.
Dolores O’Riordan has had a number of different looks throughout the years, but her short-haired look is perhaps what she will be best remembered for. The Irish beauty is immensely talented, and continues to front The Cranberries after all these years. Their most recent album, Roses, was released back in 2012.
7. Lacey Sturm
Straight out of Texas, the band Flyleaf, much like their predecessor Evanescence, blended hard rock with a female vocalist to evoke a sound that would help appeal to a much broader audience. The band’s 2005 self-titled debut album would contain some of the band’s best-known work, and would be the band’s biggest selling record to date. After three successful singles, their debut album would be certified platinum by the RIAA, and the band would be fully immersed in the mainstream.
The beautiful Lacey Sturm provided vocals for the band for over a decade, and was a huge reason for the band’s success. Though comparisons to Amy Lee were inevitable, Lacey Sturm has a much different sound than her peer, and each woman bring something fantastic to their respective bands. Sturm is no longer with the band, but continues to record and release solo music. Her debut solo album was released earlier this year.
6. Meg White
As one half of the rock duo The White Stripes, drummer Meg White was responsible for laying the foundation and rhythm for the band’s work, and boy did she deliver in a major way. The blues-infused garage band had a brilliant sound, and consistently delivered quality music and maintained a sound that clearly separated them from the other bands on the radio. Though they are no longer together, The White Stripes sport an impressive music catalogue, and some of their biggest hits are still played on radio stations around the world.
Meg White kept a very simplistic sound with her drumming, but for good reason. While any drummer with two sticks and a kit can add fills every other minute in a song, Meg excels in playing what is best for each individual track. To be clear, I’m not saying that she can’t. All I’m saying is that she chose not to, and the band’s music was far better off that way.
5. The Wilson Sisters
Although Seattle is best-known for their grunge music scene in the 1990s, there have been several other acts outside of the genre to found their way into the mainstream. In the 1970s, the band Heart would find success in the United States, and begin a career that would numerous hits, massive album sales, and would see the band become legends in their own right. Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson have remained with the band since the 1970s, and are some of the most respected women in the business.
The sisters have led the band to massive success in multiple decades, with the 1980s being the most financially fruitful for the band. Each sister has their own distinct look, and are some of the most beautiful women to grace the stage. Their talent is otherworldly, and Nancy is such a great guitarist. Ann’s vocals are always in the forefront, but Nancy’s playing is equally impressive, and the duo continues wowing audiences worldwide to this very day.
4. Ginger Pooley
The Smashing Pumpkins were one of the most unique bands to emerge from the 1990s. While bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers get most of the adoration, The Smashing Pumpkins are most assuredly one of the decade’s best bands. Few bands have ever rocked as hard, fought as much, and truly did things their way quite like The Smashing Pumpkins. After disbanding in 2000, the band reunited in 2006, and added some fresh faces to the mix.
For the next several years, Ginger Pooley fit in perfectly as the bassist for the band while they would tour for their album Zeitgeist. Although she didn’t play bass on the album, Pooley contributed greatly to their live shows, and was able to demonstrate her talents with each passing performance. Outside of her time with The Smashing Pumpkins, Pooley also played with the band Halo Friendlies, and has recorded solo music.
3. Gwen Stefani
Southern California has been responsible for producing some of the most revered and respected musical acts that have walked the earth. Every year, people make their way to the area to achieve fame and fortune, though most of them end up bussing table or making coffee. Most of the talent that makes it is born and bred in the area, and No Doubt are no exception. Forming in Anaheim, California (the home of Disneyland), the band would take nearly a decade to find fame. Once they blew up, however, the band never let go.
Though she isn’t the original lead singer, most people don’t know of No Doubt without Gwen Stefani behind the microphone. Stefani catalyzed massive success for the band, and was also very successful in her solo endeavors. Though the band hasn’t had a new album in 4 years, their place in rock history is unquestioned, and Stefani’s star is burning at perhaps its brightest as we speak thanks to her television work.
2. Joan Jett
As I mentioned earlier in this article, The Runaways were a band that boasted an incredible amount of talent, and rocked way harder than most other bands during their time. Perhaps it was the all-female image that hindered the band from becoming bigger than they should have been in the United States. Along with the beautiful and talented Lita Ford, The Runaways were also the start for one of rock music’s most beautiful babes: Joan Jett.
Her solo career is where she would find her greatest success, and her song “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” is one that has remained a mainstay on the radio for several decades. It’s truly a classic, and her cover of the song is the version that the masses are familiar with. After all these years, Joan Jett rocks harder than ever, and looks incredible while doing so. She’s one of the few women who can break your heart and kick your ass in a short span of time.
1. Debbie Harry
Occasionally, a band comes along that is able to seamlessly blend multiple genres while maintaining artistic integrity, as well as appeal to a mainstream audience and churn out multiple hits that dominate the radio waves. Back in the 1970s, Blondie burst out of New York and onto the radio as the talented group fused rock, disco, new wave, reggae, and rap to etch their claim as one of the most diverse bands of all-time. For their efforts, Blondie has sold over 40 million records, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Through all of their ups and downs as a group, only one person has been talented enough to be the lead singer for the band. Debbie Harry has been with the band since their inception in 1974, and continues to front the band to this day. Her musical diversity is nearly unparalleled, and she just so happens to be as beautiful as they come. Thanks to her work on the song “Rapture”, she’s also considered the first rapper with a chart-topping hit in the United States; so many modern rappers today owe a thank you to a woman who is truly a pioneer in the music industry.