Women who have had legendary careers and influence in rock and other genres of music.

Credit: AP

English singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse is known for her mix of musical genres including R&B, soul and jazz, as well as her history of addiction to drugs and alcohol that lead to her death in 2011. Winehouse's debut album "Frank" was nominated for the Mercury Prize and her 2006 follow up album "Back to Black" led to six Grammy Award nominations and five wins. After her death, Winehouse's "Back to Black" became the UK's best selling album of the 21st century.

Credit: Getty Images

Fiona Apple is an American singer-songwriter and pianist who earned international acclaim for her 1996 debut album "Tidal." At only 19, Apple won a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for the single "Criminal" from that album. Apple's style combines alternative rock and jazz.

Credit: AP

Courtney Love initially rose to prominence with the Los Angeles indie rock band Hole, which she formed in 1989 with Eric Erlandson. Love also achieved fame with a career in acting, starring in Alex Cox films in the 1980s and in "The People vs. Larry Flynt" in 1996, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe. She was married to Kurt Cobain, frontman of the grunge band Nirvana.

Credit: Getty Images

Gwen Stefani is a singer-songwriter and fashion designer who is the lead vocalist for the rock and ska band No Doubt. She recorded her first solo album, "Love. Angel. Music. Baby." in 2004. The solo album sold over 7 million copies. The album's third single, "Hollaback Girl," was the first U.S. digital download to sell one million copies. Including her work with No Doubt, Stefani has sold more than forty million albums worldwide and won the world's best-selling new female artist award at the World Music Awards 2005. Stefani also has her own clothing line.

Credit: AP

Natalie Merchant got her start in the music industry with the alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs in 1981, which she left to begin her solo career in 1993. Her debut solo album "Tigerly" was released on the Elektra label in 1995. Three years later, Merchant released her second solo album, "Ophelia," and in 2000 embarked on a folk tour in the United States, playing several shows with the alternative-country band Wilco.

Credit: Newsday/Ari Mintz

Janis Joplin, a Texas-born singer and songwriter, began her singing career as a folk and blues singer in San Francisco and first rose to fame in the late 1960s as the lead singer of the psychedelic rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company. She later made a name for herself with the more soulful and and bluesy groups "The Kozmic Blues Band" and "The Full Tilt Boogie Band." Although Joplin has only charted five singles in her career, many of her songs achieved immense popularity, notably "Me and Bobby McGee," "Down on Me," "Bye, Bye Baby," "Maybe," "To love Somebody" and "Cry Baby." Joplin was also well known for her performing abilities and was known as "The Queen of Rock and Roll," as well as "The Queen of Psychedelic Soul."

Credit: David Nutter

Despite living in the shadow of husband John Lennon's fame, Yoko Ono was a famous musician in her own right, as well as an avant-garde artist. After collaborating with Lennon on several albums beginning in 1968, Lennon and Ono recorded the Plastic Ono Band's first album, "Live Peace in Toronto 1969," with guitarist Eric Clapton, bass player Klaus Voormann and drummer Alan White. Ono released her first solo album, "Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band" in 1970, which was rife with harsh sounding vocals possibly influenced by the Japanese opera. Despite being accused later of contributing to the breakup of The Beatles, Ono had an impressive career in the music business.

Credit: AP

Stevie Nicks is known for her work with the band Fleetwood Mac and for her solo career, during which she produced more than forty top 50 hits and sold over 140 million albums. Nicks joined the rock band Fleetwood Mac in 1974 with her boyfriend at the time Lindsey Buckingham. She began her solo career in 1981 with the album "Bella Donna," which sold 8 million copies. Nicks has also produced six more solo studio albums and continues to be a popular solo performer after overcoming cocaine addiction and a dependency on tranquilizers. She has earned eight Grammy Award nominations and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 as a member of Fleetwood Mac.

Credit: Courtesy of Leo Sorel

Folk-rock singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell began her famed career singing in small nightclubs in Saskatchewan and Western Canada. In 1965, she moved to the United States and gained recognition for her original songs "Urge for Going," "Chelsea Morning," "Both Sides, Now" and "The Circle Game." She recorded her debut album in 1968. Her 1971 album "Blue" has been called one of the best albums ever made. Following this, Mitchell moved more into jazz and pop on her LP "Court and Speak," which featured radio hits "Help Me" and "Free Man in Paris." Mitchell ceased touring and released her last album of original songs in 2007.

Credit: Joe Dombroski

Debbie Gibson, a Long Island native, is a singer-songwriter and actress who became the youngest artist to write, produce and perform a No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 with her song "Foolish Beat." Gibson went on to have starring roles on Broadway, in independent films and on television. Gibson also influenced the fashion industry, popularizing side ponytails, crimped hair, tight, rolled-up jeans and Swatch watches. Through a variety of releases and the creation of her independent music label Espiritu, Gibson solidified her place in the genre of pop, pop-rock and dance-pop.

Credit: AP

Folk and blues rock singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman, born in Cleveland, is best known for singles including "Fast Car," "Talkin' 'bout a Revolution," "Baby Can I Hold You," "Give Me One Reason" and "Telling Stories." Chapman began playing guitar and writing songs at the age of 8 and later attended Tufts University, where she studied anthropology and African studies. Chapman is widely known for her political and social activism and often performs at and attends charity events like Make Poverty History, amfAR and AIDS/LifeCycle. After releasing her debut album "Tracy Chapman" to critical acclaim, Chapman's "Fast Car" began its rise on the charts after she performed it the televised Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute Concert in 1988. "Fast Car" was ranked 165 on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" and is the highest-ranking song both written and performed by a female performer. Chapman is also a four-time Grammy Award-winning artist.

Credit: AP

Singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow has released seven studio albums, two compilations and a live album, has sold over 16 million albums in the United States, 35 million albums worldwide and has earned nine Grammy Awards. She has also starred in numerous television shows including NBC's "30 Rock," ABC's "GCB" and "Cougar Town," Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana Forever" and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear." A Missouri native, Crow worked as a music teacher after college and got her start in the music industry with advertising jingles. She then toured with Michael Jackson as a backup vocalist from 1987-89 before recording her first attempt at a debut album in 1992. Crow has since performed and sung with such musical acts as The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, John Mellencamp, Kid Rock, Michelle Branch and Sting.

Credit: Arista/Handout

Singer-songwriter, poet and visual artist Patti Smith played an influential role in the New York City punk rock movement after releasing her debut album "Horses" in 1975. Smith's most famous song, co-written with Bruce Springsteen, is "Because the Night," which reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1978. Smith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, won the National Book Award for her memoir "Just Kids" in 2010 and received the Polar Music Prize in 2011. By 1974, Smith was performing rock music herself, at first with guitarist, bassist and rock archivist Lenny Kaye and later on with a full band composed of Kaye, Ivan Kral on guitar and bass, Jay Dee Daugherty on drums and Richard Sohl on piano. The band recorded a first single "Hey Joe/Piss Factory" in 1974 and was signed as the Patti Smith Group of Arista Records to record their first album in 1975. Smith married Fred "Sonic" Smith, former guitar player for Detroit rock band MC5, who died in 1994 of a heart attack.

Top Stories


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months