In part 1 of my two-part article, I listed some female guitarists who are still rocking it in their 50’s. You can read about these “Fabulous Fiftysomethings” in my previous article by clicking here.
Part 2 picks up where the first part left off, as I include some great female guitarists born before August 1, 1952. It’s a list that includes some Rock & Roll Hall of Famers. As with part 1, this list is in no particular order, except perhaps chronologically. Here we go…
Chrissie Hynde [born September 7, 1951]
Chrissie took advantage of the rising new wave movement when she started the Pretenders in the late 1970’s. She parlayed that into not only rock stardom, but also into becoming a guitar-playing role model. And that’s to say nothing of the Pretenders earning a 2005 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as well as Chrissie herself branching out into other musical realms, including a 1994 hookup with the legendary Frank Sinatra for one of the latter’s classic songs.
Photo credit: Chrissie Hynde in concert. Taken August 10, 2007 in Santa Barbara, CA by John Slonaker. (Wikimedia Commons)
Janis Ian [born April 7, 1951]
When she was a year short of 17, Janis won some early fame with a controversial song about interracial romance, entitled “Society’s Child”. Yet I first heard of her a few years later, in 1975, when she topped the charts with a song called “At Seventeen”, which was somewhat of a social commentary on her “Society’s Child” fame. Janis continues to tour, but not just for the sake of the nostalgia engendered by her hits.
Photo credit: Lloyd Baggs (Janis Ian website)
Suzi Quatro [born June 3, 1950]
Suzi was playing bass in an all-female band that, at various times in the late 1960’s and early ’70s, also featured her sisters. Then, a producer takes Suzi straight out of her native Detroit over to his native Britain, and by 1974, Suzi and her bass were delivering the “girl power” worldwide when girl power wasn’t cool. Just imagine where Joan Jett [as also featured in Part 1] would’ve been if not for Suzi.
Rory Block [born November 6, 1949]
This country-blues guitarist has been featured here on this website a few months back, and is a 5-time Blues Music Award winner. You got to love how she pays tribute to Mississippi Delta blues master guitarist, and 1986 “early influence” inductee to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Robert Johnson [1911-38] by recording a DVD in which she teaches how to play blues guitar through some of Robert’s songs. Both Robert and Rory, of course, learned from the same person–Eddie “Son” House” [1902-88].
Photo Credit: Sergio Kurhajec
Bonnie Raitt [born November 8, 1949]
Eddie “Son” House’s bluesy influence extends to this next female guitarist. Not only was Bonnie Raitt born just two days after Rory Block, but she’s also one of only two female guitarists on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists, as well as a multiple Grammy winner who’s sold millions of records. Also, of course, she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame back in 2000. Far be it for me to think Rory and Bonnie ought to do a slide-guitar jam session together, but if it hasn’t been done already, I think it should be.
Emmylou Harris [born April 2, 1947]
Another multiple Grammy winner, Emmylou told PBS talk-show host Tavis Smiley back in 2011 that she learned how to play guitar by memorizing three chords. That simple kind of learning led her, in the many years since, to develop a style that crosses country with rock. From there, she even branched out into bluegrass, folk and “alternative country.”
Melanie [full name: Melanie Safka-Schekeryk;
born February 3, 1947]
When I was a child back in 1971, I heard this tune with the catchy lyrics about roller skates and a “Brand New Key”. It was catchy enough to be this New York-born singer/writer/guitarist’s biggest hit, just a couple of years after performing in the rain on the first night of the Woodstock festival back in 1969, and the fans lit candles.
Photo Credit: By Melanie_in_München_(2009).JPG: Richard Huber derivative work: MachoCarioca (Melanie_in_München_(2009).JPG) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Joni Mitchell [born November 7, 1943]
She is the other of two female guitarists on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists, is another multiple Grammy winner, as well as a 1997 inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But Joni, who’s closing in on age 70 as of this writing while trying to fight off an incurable skin disease called Morgellon’s syndrome–and she’s a polio survivor–is just as famous for an interesting song she wrote in 1970, “Big Yellow Taxi”, with that classic refrain “They paved paradise/and put up a parking lot.”
Peggy “Lady Bo” Jones [born July 19, 1940]
Back in the late 1950’s, rock pioneer Bo Diddley [1928-2008] lost his male lead guitarist to the military draft, but a chance meeting with a young female singer who was also learning guitar led to Peggy Jones joining Bo’s band, in the process becoming a pioneer female lead guitarist. She earned the nickname “Lady Bo”, which she kept after branching out in the early 1960’s to develop her own bluesy style, while continuing to accompany Bo through the late 1990’s.
…And why not an honorable mention to Heart’s Ann Wilson [born June 19, 1950], country star, songwriter and actress Dolly Parton [born January 19, 1946], and country singer-turned-rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson [born October 20, 1937], each of whom have offered up some guitar-playing moments over the years?
Quite a list, I tell you, and with people aging more gracefully than ever, I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the ones I named, either in Part 1 or 2, will still be rocking when they reach the century mark. But do feel free to add to this list if you think I have left anyone out.
Ann Wilson Photo Credit: Eva Rinaldi [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Dolly Parton Photo Credit: DollyParton.com with permission from Publicist
Wanda Jackson Photo Credit: By Mpicnl (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Cover Photo/Artwork: Hi-Fi Media