Top 10 Girl Bands Of The 20th Century

March 17, 2014

There have been a number of girl bands that made it big or were big influences during the twentieth century. The following girls graced the stage with their female know-how and inherent charm.

The following girl bands listed here are defined as bands where at least two women are main band members and play instruments. Why should only boys get to be in bands? These girls prove that girls rock too!

1. The Runaways


The band that introduced the world to Joan Jett, Cherie Currie and Lita Ford is the stuff of Rock and Roll history. The Runaways were and all-girl group that formed in 1975. They built up a cult following and toured all over the world, including Asia.

Some of the most famous songs include “Cherry Bomb” and “Hollywood.” The band may not have had a major US success, but they were hugely influential and proved that girls could rock too. Moreover, many of the band’s members went on to continue to play music on international stages. In many ways, The Runaways made the mold for the modern hard rock girl band.

2. Heart


The sisters of Heart, Ann and Nancy Wilson, are truly the heart of the band. These women can hold their own against any man in any band. Their voices range from angelic to banshee while their song-writing is first-rate. With numerous hits to their credit, Heart is one of the best-known bands of the late twentieth century.

They continue to tour and some of their best known songs include “Magic Man,” “Barracuda,” “What about Love,” and “Alone.” This arena band has been touring since they formed in the late 1970s and continues to gain thrill audiences the world over.

3. The Indigo Girls


This duo consists of songwriters Amy Ray and Emily Saliers who began playing together as students at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. The women’s version of folk-rock earned them a large following during the 1990s though they actually formed back in 1985.

Their smart songwriting and commitment to various causes have also earned them the titles of activists. Their music, however, dates back to 1987 when they released their first album Strange Fire. One of their biggest hits includes “Closer to Fine.” The women have headlined shows across the country including The Lilith Fair.

4. The Go-Gos


The first girl band to write and play all the instruments for their songs, the Go-Gos formed in 1978. Featuring the silky voice of Belinda Carlisle, the band became one of the most celebrated groups of the 1980s with hits like “We Got the Beat and “Our Lips Are Sealed.”

Touring would take a toll on friendships and the band would break up but also get back together. Carlisle left for a time for a successful solo career, but the band is certainly not defunct in spite of the bandmates’ involvement in other projects.

5. The Bangles


The Bangles formed in 1981 and also became one of the biggest girl bands of the 1980s with hits like “Manic Monday,” “Walk Like an Egyptian,” and “Eternal Flame.” Lead singer Susanna Hoffs formed the band with sisters Vicki and Debbi Peterson. Soon after, the trio was joined by Annette Zilinskas.

The band became a favorite for the MTV generation and their videos supported their radio play and great commercial success. Though the band broke up in 1996, they were back together and making music by 1998. They are currently still together and playing live.

6. Vixen


This all-girl band formed in 1980 in St. Paul, Minnesota. There have been various line-ups for the band with members coming and going. The band was formed by Jan Kuehnemund who played guitar for Vixen.

The band did not release its debut album until 1988 – the self-titled Vixen. The band was signed by EMI. Singer-songwriter Richard Marx helped arrange the band’s commercial hit “Edge of a Broken Heart.”

Their music has been described as hard rock or glam rock. The recent death of Kuehnemund has halted some touring plans, but several of the “classic lineup” members are planning to continue touring under the name Vixen.

7. Dixie Chicks


This top-charting Country music girl band features lead vocalist Natalie Maines and sisters Martie Erwin Maguire and Emily Erwin Robison. Their big commercial success occurred with Wide Open Spaces. Though Maines wasn’t an original member, she added a nuance to the band that helped it break into the mainstream.

The band originally formed in 1989 in Dallas. By 1999, they’d have an album (Fly) debuting at the number one spot on the Billboard 200. Their international fame makes them one of the most celebrated acts of the twentieth century.

8. Veruca Salt


Founded in Chicago during the early nineties, this alternative band features Nina Gordon and Louise Post who sing and play guitars. Named for the spoiled child in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the band became best known for their hit “Seether.” The band’s first full album reached Gold status.

While members disbanded to go their separate ways, there is talk that there will be a brand new release in 2014. During the band’s heyday in the nineties, they toured with Hole and were all over the radio waves; fans were wild for the band’s girls who were also the primary writers of the tunes.

9. Hole


Formed in 1989 by Courtney Love and Eric Erlandson, this band also featured Patty Schemel, Kristen Pfaff,and Melissa Auf der Maur but Hole’s lineup frequently changed. Love, however, was a mainstay in part due to her notoriety as the wife and later the widow of Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana.

The band’s critical success came with the 1993 success of Live Through This. The subsequent release of Celebrity Skin earned the band Grammy nominations. Hole’s music has dealt with serious subjects like addiction, rape, fame and body image. Pfaff died in 1993 of an overdose. While there have been various incarnations of the band, they are not currently touring.

10. L7


This Grunge-like girl band formed in 1985 and continued playing venues until 2001. Their edgy sound fueled by guitar-based riffs has landed many of their songs on soundtracks like Natural Born Killers.

This four-woman band has influenced many girl bands of the nineties with their hard rock sound. They’ve performed at major venues like The Lilith Fair and individual members of the band still perform on their own.

The band was formed in Los Angeles by Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner. While they didn’t get much radio play, this band was well known during their heyday and continues to be one of the more influential girl bands of the late twentieth century.

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