Breaking the Boundaries: Women In Rock

A Celebration of Women in Rock

Although our society has come a long way in addressing gender equality, the music industry still condones a gender gap which is grimly male dominated. This is a harsh reality which covers all areas of the music industry, whether a bevy of business tycoons or cluster of creatives that have climbed the charts, you can bet the majority are male- especially in the Rock culture where ‘Sex, Drugs and Rock ’n’ Roll’ is hardly considered a women’s world.

However, this hostility towards women in the music industry allows a notion to celebrate the few women who have stood shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts.

In the early 1960’s while the world was captivated by the Beatles phenomena, all female beat group The Liverbirds were giving The Beatles a run for their money. The Liverbird’s are arguably the first all singing and playing female rock band. They found great success in Liverpool and Germany, opposing the norms of a female occupation whilst also defying John Lennon’s prejudice remark “Girls with guitars? That won’t work”.

It wasn’t until the late 60’s that Rock music went under major changes and branched off into other subgenres, of which a trail of female musicians followed, eager to experiment.

Tina Weymouth, bassist and member of Talking Heads is another female icon who proved stereotypes are there to be challenged, having spent most of her high school years cheer-leading. David Byrne, lead singer of Talking Heads, often denied Weymouth’s pivotal role in the Talking Heads creativity and foundation to their signature sound with her syncopated rhythms and sharp accenting of notes. She later went on to produce, write and collaborate on other musical projects breaking into other vastly male musical territories, including her band Tom Tom Club.

Weymouth’s initial fears were of her gender hindering her chances of being taken seriously- a response  which is all too familiar as when women appear in rock bands it is often seen as a novelty. However, Tina Weymouth still shines as a role model to all aspiring women rockers today as an accomplished bass player, having ignored the female stereotype’s which permeated the Rock music scene in the late 70’s and saying “If you wanna do something, just do it!”.

Females and the Future...

Of course there are many other pioneers who warrant mention such as Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Kim Gordon, Stevie Nicks and Sister Rosetta Tharpe who helped pave the way for future generations of musicians and created a wave of female inspiration which they were deprived of whilst growing up. With so many new means of recording, producing and distributing in a DIY musical culture combined with an ever progressing outlook on gender- the future certainly looks bright for diversity within the music industry!

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