Honoring Women Who Rock
Honoring Women Who Rock
In 1986, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame began its tradition of inducting a new class of musical honorees each year. Candidates for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame had to meet a set of requirements, including the release of their first album having been 25+ years ago. This means that in the Hall’s earliest years of existence, the only rock and roll figures being considered for induction were from the 1960’s or earlier, a time when there were very few prominent female musicians in rock music. Thus, the Hall’s history of gender imbalance amongst inductees began.
During its first ten years, the Rock and Roll Hall of fame inducted a limited amount of prominent female performers, including Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner. Music culture at the time was a lot less focused on empowered female artists than it is today. Girls weren’t supposed to play in the bands. They were supposed to be the fans swooning over posters and merchandise from their favorite heartthrobs.
Breaking into the rock music industry as a female solo performer or even as a part of a male-dominated group was not easy. Moe Tucker, the former drummer for the Velvet Underground, has admitted that one of her bandmates insisted that no chicks be allowed into the band upon hearing of her entry. If he had planned to scare Tucker away, his plan backfired tremendously, because this instance only gave Moe Tucker more drive to prove herself as a drummer.
Many female rockers from the early 80’s were faced with the challenge of defying “the man’s world” of rock and roll, including 2015 inductee Joan Jett. Jett remembers [that in the rock industry], "We couldn't forget that we were girls -- we had to defend it all the time.” Joan Jett’s four biggest hits, 'I Love Rock 'N Roll,' 'Crimson and Clover,' 'Do You Wanna Touch Me' and 'Bad Reputation' , were all initially rejected by record labels after she began her solo career separate from her former band, The Runaways.
Yet, Jett is arguably one of biggest icons to have come out of 80’s rock and her music is still popular amongst people of all ages today. Considering all of her success over the years, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has often been criticized for taking this long to finally induct and acknowledge Joan Jett. As a female rocker pioneer herself, Jett says, “There should be more women in the Hall of Fame, and more women in rock. They're out there, they just don't get the notice,” and she is right. As of 2008, only 10 solo female performers and 13 groups containing at least one female performer had been added since the Hall admitted its first woman in 1987.
Joan Jett was the only women inducted into the Hall in 2015 and over the past few years, the small list of female inductees have included Linda Ronstadt, Donna Summer, Heart, Laura Nyro and Darlene Love.
The underrepresentation of female rockers is both upsetting and misleading, as there are many qualified and deserving musicians who have yet to be honored. But with respected music veterans like Moe Tucker and Joan Jett stepping up as women’s advocates, it is hopeful that even more women will be considered for the rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
As Joan Jett once said, “people don’t want to see women doing things they don’t think women should do.” But those same people forget that women can do anything and everything they put their mind to. Never be afraid to be brave, be bold and be rebellious; that’s how so many female rockers have gotten where they are today. Rock on, ladies, rock on.
Shaye is a passionate teen from the Jersey Shore area who hopes to impact as any lives as possible every day. She founded a chapter of Girl Up at her high school and leads other teens in advocacy and awareness campaigns to aid girls around the world. As the NJ Girl Up Coalition Outreach Coordinator, Shaye mentors and networks with new chapters in her community. She hopes to pursue a degree in Communications and Journalism, as she loves radio and video production and writing for magazine and online publications.