It’s time for a list of the greatest female rock singers in history.
These women of rock changed the music industry forever, and their music keeps inspiring young musicians around the world.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the best female rock singers of all time!
Table of Contents
- 1. Stevie Nicks
- 2. Janis Joplin
- 3. Joan Jett
- 4. Etta James
- 5. Aretha Franklin
- 6. Tina Turner
- 7. Debbie Harry
- 8. Patti Smith
- 9. Pink
- 10. Pat Benatar
- 11. Alanis Morissette
- 12. Alison Mosshart
- 13. Hayley Williams
- 14. Beyoncé
- 15. Ann Wilson
- 16. Dolores O’Riordan
- 17. Fiona Apple
- 18. Madonna
- 19. Whitney Houston
- 20. Chrissie Hynde
- 21. Linda Ronstadt
- 22. Amy Lee
- 23. Annie Lennox
- 24. PJ Harvey
- 25. Avril Lavigne
- 26. Shirley Manson
- 27. Mavis Staples
- 28. Gwen Stefani
- 29. Melissa Etheridge
- 30. Joni Mitchell
- 31. Taylor Swift
- 32. Sheryl Crow
- 33. Bonnie Raitt
- 34. Carly Simon
- 35. Alicia Keys
- 36. Jewel
- 37. Courtney Love
- 38. Siouxsie Sioux
- 39. Adele
- 40. Florence Welch
- 41. Brenda Lee
- 42. Kim Deal
- 43. Grace Slick
- 44. Nancy Wilson
- 45. Kelly Clarkson
- Best Female Rock Singers – Final Thoughts
1. Stevie Nicks
There’s a reason Stevie Nicks is considered one of the most influential female rock singers in the world.
She is best known for her work with Fleetwood Mac – Nicks joined the band in 1975, and helped it become one of the greatest bands in history.
But she also had a successful solo career, producing eight solo studio albums.
Moreover, she garnered Grammy Awards and was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
So it’s no wonder Rolling Stone named her the “Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll.”
2. Janis Joplin
Without a doubt, Janis Joplin is one of the best female rock artists of all time.
She was known for her incredible vocals, authentic style, and immense talent.
She is also associated with the 1960s counterculture movement.
“Me & Bobby McGee” is one of Joplin’s greatest hits, although it was originally written by Kris Kristofferson – she changed the lyrics a little bit though.
But she made the song her own, and along with “Piece Of My Heart” and “Summertime”, it’s considered her signature song.
3. Joan Jett
Best known as the frontwoman of her band Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Joan Jett is surely one of the most famous female rock stars of her generation.
Her songs like “I Hate Myself For Loving You” and the rendition of “I Love Rock n’ Roll” became timeless rock classics.
And her contribution to rock music and culture in general is huge – she has even been described as “the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
4. Etta James
When thinking about famous rock stars, Etta James probably isn’t the first name that comes to mind.
However, James was known for combining different music genres, including rock and roll.
She was also inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Moreover, Etta James was a true musical pioneer, and she is widely regarded as one of the greatest voices of her century.
And that’s why she has a well-deserved place on this list.
5. Aretha Franklin
And it’s a similar case with Aretha Franklin – she was known as “the Queen of Soul”, but she made an impact on other music genres as well.
With a career spanning over six decades, Franklin was arguably one of the most successful music artists of her generation.
And her songs such as “Respect” and “Chain Of Fools” turned out to be all-time classics.
Moreover, Aretha Franklin won 18 Grammy Awards, and she was also the first woman to be listed in the Rock and roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
6. Tina Turner
Referred to as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, Tina Turner is undoubtedly one of the most famous female rockers in history.
She rose to fame in the 60s, as the lead singer of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.
And she eventually became one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
Her vocal abilities, on-stage energy, and endless creativity will never be forgotten.
And her songs like “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and “Simply The Best” will be familiar to many generations to come.
7. Debbie Harry
When it comes to the best female rock singers of the 70s and the 80s, Debbie Harry is hard to forget.
She is best-known as the lead vocalist of the band Blondie.
The band was a pioneer in the American new wave scene, and it eventually started incorporating various music styles.
Their songs like “Heart Of Glass” “One Way Or Another”, and “Call Me” definitely withstand the test of time.
And these songs, as well as Blondie’s music in general, wouldn’t be the same without Debbie Harry’s mesmerizing vocals.
8. Patti Smith
In short, Patti Smith is a living legend.
She was one of the leading figures in the New York City punk rock movement in the 70s.
And she maintained her popularity and relevance in the following decades.
Smith’s best-known song is “Because the Night”, which she co-wrote with Bruce Springsteen.
All in all, Patti Smith is definitely a very important woman in rock music, and her contribution to the music industry and culture in general is widely appreciated.
When thinking about current female rock singers, Pink definitely comes to mind.
Although she has mostly been associated with pop music in the past few years, she started out as a rock singer.
Some of her best early 2000s hits are rock tunes, including “So What” and “U + Ur Hand.”
With over 135 million records sold worldwide, Pink is also one of the most successful singers in the world right now..
10. Pat Benatar
There’s no doubt about it – Pat Benatar is a true rock legend.
Known for her powerful vocals, her 80s hits like “Love Is A Battlefield” and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” still sound amazing.
Also, Benatar is a four-time Grammy Award winner, and generally one of the most respected rock singers in the music industry.
And in November 2022, she was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
11. Alanis Morissette
Alanis Morissette started her career in the 80s, and she is still active on the music scene.
Her 1995 album “Jagged Little Pill” is hands down one of the best rock albums ever, and it remains her most critically acclaimed work to date.
Songs from the album such as “Ironic” and “You Oughta Know” don’t seem to get old.
These songs helped her become known for writing powerful and emotional songs with strong messages.
She has been named the “Queen of Alt-Rock Angst” by Rolling Stone – and that definitely makes sense.
12. Alison Mosshart
Alison Mosshart is an American rock singer best known for her work with the Kills.
She co-founded the Kills with British guitarist Jamie Hince in 2000.
As the leading singer of the band, Mosshart really showed her talent and vocal abilities.
And she certainly deserves to be placed among the world’s top female rock singers.
13. Hayley Williams
Best-known as the singer of Paramore, Hayley Williams is certainly one of the best voices in the music industry.
She is also a primary songwriter and keyboardist of the band.
Plus, Williams also has successful solo projects, including her debut solo album Simmer released in 2020.
All things considered, she is arguably one of the most successful female rock stars in the world right now – and we can’t wait to see what’s more to come.
Beyoncé may not be a typical rock star, but she is definitely a superstar.
She rose to fame as part of the R&B group Destiny’s Child in the 90s, and she has been rocking the scene ever since.
Her powerful vocals and performing skills have been inspiring young musicians for decades now.
And she is also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
15. Ann Wilson
Ann Wilson is best known as the lead singer of the rock band Heart.
Heart was the first hard rock band fronted by women, and some of their songs like “Magic Man”, “Crazy on You”, and “Barracuda” became hard rock classics.
That being said, Ann Wilson is surely one of the most influential women rock singers of her generation.
16. Dolores O’Riordan
And the same goes for Dolores O’Riordan – she was really one of a kind.
Her work with the Cranberries will never be forgotten, especially hits like “Zombie” and “Linger.”
O’Riordan’s vocal abilities were incredible, and she was often referred to as one of the most recognizable voices in rock in the 1990s.
Unfortunately, she passed away in 2018 at the age of 46.
17. Fiona Apple
Fiona Apple is definitely one of the most interesting rock singers right now.
She rose to prominence in the 90s, after releasing her debut studio album Tidal.
She has released many successful songs and albums since then and received numerous awards and nominations, including three Grammy Awards.
Her most popular songs include “Criminal” and “Paper Bag.”
Another pop star who deserves a place on this list is Madonna.
After all, Madonna’s success and music were groundbreaking at the time, and she has influenced many artists and music genres.
With a career spanning over four decades, Madonna is certainly one of the most influential singers of all time.
She has released many chart-topping singles during her career, including “La Isla Bonita”, “Vogue”, and “Hung Up.”
She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.
19. Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston also made a huge impact on the music industry.
She was one of the best-selling artists of all time and an iconic singer and performer.
With her vocal abilities and musical style, she inspired many female rock artists that came after her.
And her songs “I Will Always Love You” and “I Want To Dance With Somebody” are considered to be timeless classics.
20. Chrissie Hynde
Chrissie Hynde is a founding member and the lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter of the rock band the Pretenders.
Some of the tunes she recorded with the Pretenders are simply iconic – “Brass In Pocket”, for example.
Hynde has also collaborated with other famous musicians, including Frank Sinatra and Cher.
She was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Pretenders in 2005.
21. Linda Ronstadt
Now a retired singer, Linda Ronstadt has a rich career behind her.
She worked in diverse music genres, including rock, and she has collaborated with many artists such as Dolly Parton, Frank Zappa, and Emmylou Harris.
Ronstadt was definitely one of the most successful rock singers in the 70s, and her career turned out to be very durable.
Her most widely known songs include “When Will I Be Loved” and “You’re No Good.”
22. Amy Lee
As the co-founder, vocalist, and songwriter of Evanescence, Amy Lee certainly made her mark.
Besides work with Evanescence, Amy Lee also did some solo work, and she collaborated with other rock musicians.
And apart from having excellent singing skills, she is also a classically trained pianist.
All in all, Amy Lee’s talent and passion for music are undeniable.
23. Annie Lennox
Annie Lennox has a rare contralto vocal range and amazing performing skills.
Besides her vocal abilities, Lennox is known for her rich career and global success with the Eurythmics.
She embarked on a solo career in the 90s, and has been among the top female rockers ever since.
Lennox’ biggest hits include “Why” and “No More I Love You’s.”
24. PJ Harvey
Starting her career in the 80s, PJ Harvey has been around for a while now.
She is best-known for her songs “Down By The Water” and “This Is Love”, as well as her collaboration with Nick Cave.
She has received many accolades throughout her career, including Mercury Prize.
Her musical and artistic expression is truly unique, and she is undeniably one of the most authentic and innovative rock artists on the scene.
25. Avril Lavigne
Avril Lavigne was a big rock star in the early 2000s, especially with her global hits “Complicated” and “Girlfriend.”
It’s fair to say Avril paved the way for the success of many pop punk female artists.
And he returned to the scene and her punk rock roots in 2022, with her album Love Sux.
The pop punk queen obviously has more to share with the world, as she continues to be one of the most influential female rock singers of the century.
26. Shirley Manson
Shirley Manson is a Scottish singer, songwriter, musician, and actress.
She is the lead vocalist of the alternative rock band Garbage, and her unique voice and energy defined the sound of the band.
Manson started to perform in her teens, but she achieved international success with Garbage.
And she remains one of the most prominent female rock singers in the industry.
27. Mavis Staples
Best known for her work with her family’s band The Staple Singers, Mavis Staples made a significant impact on the music scene of the 60s.
The Staples were, in fact, the first gospel group to make it in the pop market.
In 1969, Staples released her self-titled debut solo album, and she continued to perform and make music to this day.
That being said, Mavis Staples has been having a truly impressive and durable career.
28. Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani rose to fame in the early 1990s as the lead singer of No Doubt.
The band’s debut album Tragic Kingdom was a big success, and some of the songs from the album “Just a Girl” and “Don’t Speak” still sound amazing.
Stefani also released several solo albums, and she is generally one of the most famous pop and rock singers in the music industry.
29. Melissa Etheridge
Melissa Etheridge was one of the most famous girl rock singers in the 90s.
Her 1988 debut album wasn’t a big success, but her 1993 album Yes I Am brought her international fame.
Eventually, Etheridge’s music and performances catapulted her into rock stardom.
She is also known for her activism, especially for LGBT rights.
30. Joni Mitchell
During her long and successful career, Joni Mitchell worked in a variety of genres, including rock.
She is recognizable by her naturally gentle singing voice, soft and powerful at the same time.
Mitchell is also a talented songwriter – Rolling Stone magazine called her one of the greatest songwriters ever.
And her iconic album “Blue” definitely withstands the test of time.
31. Taylor Swift
Starting out as a country singer, Taylor Swift certainly came a long way.
She is now a pop superstar and one of the most successful music artists in the world.
Although her musical style revolves around pop and folk, she experimented with different genres and sounds over the years.
One thing is for sure – Taylor Swift is a talented and hard-working artist, and as we’re concerned, she is a rockstar.
32. Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow toured as a backing vocalist with Michael Jackson in the 80s, and eventually became a popular female rock singer.
She released many successful singles and albums, but “If It Makes You Happy” remains her biggest hit.
She has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide and won nine Grammy Awards.
33. Bonnie Raitt
Best known for her emotional love song “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, Bonnie Raitt is surely one of the most respected singers of her generation.
She released many successful albums in the 70s, and continued to make music well into the 90s.
Her contribution to music genres such as folk, blues rock, rock, and Americana is widely appreciated.
Consequently, Raitt received many accolades, including into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
34. Carly Simon
Carly is another women rock singer from the 70s and the 80s.
She released her debut album in 1971, and that was the beginning of her rich career.
In 1977, she recorded a Bond theme song, named “Nobody Does It Better”, and continued to make successful songs in the following years.
She has 24 Billboard Hot 100-charting singles in total, and that’s a lot more than many other singers of her generation.
35. Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys is primarily known for her contribution to the R&B genre, but she has also experimented with other styles.
Either way, Keys often appears on the list of the world’s top female rock singers.
After all, she is generally one of the best-selling music artists, and she has been actively making music and performing since the release of her debut album in 2001.
Her best singles to date include “No One”, “Underdog”, and “Girl On Fire.”
Jewel Kilcher, known simply as Jewel, started singing as a duo with her father, a local musician.
In 1995, she released her debut album, Pieces Of You, and it became one of the best-selling debut albums of all time.
As of 2021, has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.
All things considered, Jewel has a well-deserved spot on many best female rockers lists.
37. Courtney Love
Courtney Love was an important figure in the alternative and grunge scenes of the 90s.
She first rose to fame as a singer of the band Hole, and she gained even more popularity after her marriage with Kurt Cobain.
But it was her live performances and attitude that helped her become one of the most influential rock singers of her era.
38. Siouxsie Sioux
Susan Janet Ballion, known professionally as Siouxsie Sioux, was one of the most influential British singers.
First of all, she was the lead singer of the rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees.
But she also worked with her second group, the Creatures, and eventually continued to make music as a solo artist.
And she is still active – she announced her return to the stage and a concert at the upcoming Latitude Festival 2023.
When asked to name the greatest female rock singers, you probably wouldn’t think of Adele.
However, she frequently appears on the rockstars lists.
Well, she is arguably one of the world’s most successful musicians, and she has been working in various genres throughout her career.
She has also won numerous awards, including Grammy, Brit, Golden Globe, and an Academy Award (for “Skyfall”.)
40. Florence Welch
Florence Welch is hands down one of the best vocalists and live performers in the world right now.
WIth her band Florence + the Machine, she recorded many successful hits, including “Free” and “You’ve Got The Love.”
Despite the fact that she is primarily focused on indie music, she managed to achieve mainstream success.
41. Brenda Lee
Well, Christmas holidays wouldn’t be the same without “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” stuck in your head.
Besides this Christmas classic, Brenda Lee is responsible for many popular songs.
She was a country singer in the 60s, but she also performed in rockabilly and pop.
Finally, Lee is the first woman to be inducted into both the Rock and Roll and Country Music Halls of Fame.
42. Kim Deal
Another female rock musician that deserves to be praised is Kim Deal.
Before forming the Breeders, Kim Deal was the bassist and the co-vocalist in the Pixies.
She also worked on other projects, including touring with the Amps.
All in all, Deal’s contribution to rock music is undeniable – she definitely made her mark.
43. Grace Slick
Grace Slick is best known for her work with Jefferson Airplane.
But she was also one of the leading figures of San Francisco’s 60s psychedelic music scene.
And she released six solo albums.
Slick retired in 1990, and she was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame six years later.
44. Nancy Wilson
Nancy Wilson rose to fame alongside her sister Ann as a guitarist and vocalist of the rock group Heart.
As we’ve already mentioned, Heart was the first hard rock band fronted by women, and that’s one of the reasons Wilson sisters are considered very influential.
Wilson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Heart in 2013.
45. Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson rose to fame after winning the first season of American Idol in 2002, and continued to be active on the scene ever since.
She has also been hosting her own talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, since 2019.
All things considered, Clarkson is currently one of the most popular names in the world right now.
But more importantly, her impact on the pop rock genre doesn’t go unnoticed.
Best Female Rock Singers – Final Thoughts
There are many more female rock singers worth mentioning, but it’s time to wrap it up.
Hopefully, our list inspired you to explore more about these amazing women who shaped the sound of rock.
Whether they’re current top rock singers or stars from the 80s, their contribution to rock music will always be remembered and celebrated.