Best Female Rock Stars Of All-Time: Top 5 Legendary Ladies, According To Experts

We want to rock! With the ladies, that is. The rock genre is historically highly populated with male talent, so, in the past, it took an exceptionally gifted woman to make a name for herself as a female rocker. Today, women are powerhouses in rock ‘n roll. Who are considered the top queens of the stage? We’ve compiled a list of the consensus best female rock stars all-time, according to industry pros.

Putting on your favorite tunes can lift your mood and decrease your stress, and there’s research to back it up. Listening to music reduced stress during the pandemic. The study of 711 people found music also improved mood, adding to evidence that our favorite tunes are a great antidote for anxiety. And, of course, different types of songs will have different effects: Faster songs can make people feel more alert and concentrate better. Upbeat ones can make you feel more optimistic and positive about life. Meanwhile, researchers say a slower tempo can quiet your mind and relax your muscles, making you feel soothed while releasing the stress of the day. But that’s not all music can do.

Brain-boosting music? Yes, new research out of Japan reports “groovy” music can even enhance brain functioning. That’s right, scientists from the University of Tsukuba report that “music with a groove” can significantly increase measures of executive function and associated brain activity. Who doesn’t want a mental edge? The study found that there is one catch, though: You have to be familiar with the tune. So put on that old groovy tune that you love so much and know that your neurons are also dancing!

Ready to explore the legendary names of rock and roll? StudyFinds put together a list of the top five female rock stars of all time, according to experts and fans. Of course, we want to hear from you, so comment below to tell us which rocker you think is number one!

The List: Best Female Rock Stars of All-Time, Per Experts

1. Stevie Nicks

Can you say legend? Stevie Nicks is just that, making a name for herself as a lead singer of Fleetwood Mac, a band who still receives millions of listens on Spotify each month. But she wasn’t done there as she’s been equally successful in her solo career.

Hello Music Theory writes: “Growing up in the ’50s, she got her start in music by singing duets with her grandfather. The future rock star traveled often while growing up and met her future bandmate Lindsey Buckingham during her senior year of high school in California. The two joined the band Fleetwood Mac, and their debut album in 1975 catapulted all the members into stardom.”

“Nicks is known for her powerful vocal performances and her unique songwriting style. She is also considered one of the most influential female rock artists of the 20th century. Her songs have been covered by many artists over the years, and she has won Grammy Awards,” writes Music Grotto.

But we can’t just brush over those accolades, because that wouldn’t do Nicks justice, so here’s Audio Captain to expand upon the numbers: “Nicks has earned eight Grammys and three American Music Awards as a solo artist. She’s also the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice (once for Fleetwood Mac and once for herself).

2. Janis Joplin

You’ve certainly heard the name, and most likely her music. To give you an idea of the woman behind the voice, some insight from Wikipedia: “[At] the University of Texas at Austin (UT), though she did not complete her college studies, the campus newspaper, The Daily Texan, ran a profile of her in the issue dated July 27, 1962, headlined ‘She Dares to Be Different.’ The article began, ‘She goes barefooted when she feels like it, wears Levi’s to class because they’re more comfortable, and carries her autoharp with her everywhere she goes so that in case she gets the urge to break into song, it will be handy. Her name is Janis Joplin.’”

Janis Joplin's "Pearl" Album from 1971
Janis Joplin’s “Pearl” Album from 1971 (

The Top Tens writes that “Janis Joplin (1943-1970) was an American singer who rose to fame as the main singer of acid band Big Brother and the Holding Company. She was known for her eccentric hippie style and psychedelic rock music.”

“Janis Joplin had an inspiring and tragic career. She was blessed with that iconic raspy, yet soulful voice, though mental illness and addiction took her life at age 27,” writes Guitar Space. “Beyond the fact that Joplin is one of the best female singers in rock music, she’s one of the best rock and blues singers of all time.”

Berklee Online shares that “Janis sang in folk and blues bars on the West Coast, and later played all-night parties for the Hells Angels at Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco. She had been influenced vocally by Bessie Smith, Odetta, and Big Mama Thornton, but she brought an unchained, hard-rock energy to the scene, swigging her patented Southern Comfort whiskey onstage.” Unfortunately, they go on to note that “she died alone in a LA hotel room in 1970 of a heroin overdose, after playing a final concert at Harvard Stadium, of all places. Her legacy was boosted by a hit cover of Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Me and Bobby McGee,’ which came out right after she died and went to No. 1.”

3. Tina Turner

You may not think rock when you hear her name, but let us remind you that she’s dubbed The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Turner made all but one list that we reviewed, and there’s no question she deserves a spot here on our list.

Music in Minnesota reminds that “rock is a genre that is typically dominated by men, but occasionally, an amazing woman will break onto the scene,” and that’s exactly what Turner did. They go on to say that “Tina Turner wasn’t called the Queen of Rock and Roll for nothing. Born in 1939, she paved the way for female rock singers around the globe.”

In St. Louis, Tina Turner “met Ike Turner when he was performing with his band. The two went on to find success with songs like ‘Proud Mary’ before they split in 1976. In the 1980s, Turner launched a major comeback and went on to release the multi-Platinum album Private Dancer,” writes Hello Music Theory. They also note that, “since then, she’s won 12 Grammy awards, become a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and become famous for helping smash down deeply held racial barriers in rock music.”

U Discover Music writes “throughout her career, Tina Turner has perfected the art of blending pop with soul-filled rock music. She crossed genre and racial lines at a time when no one else could, and, with her signature raspy vocals and unstoppable energy, she makes each song her own. Whether she’s crafting arena pop classics such as ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ or giving The Rolling Stones a run for their money at Altamont with her cover of Otis Redding’s ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,’ Turner remains an inimitable talent among the best female rock singers.”

4. Ann Wilson

Though Ann and her sister, Nancy, were both a part of Heart, the band with which they reached stardom, Ann’s name popped up more frequently on the pros’ lists. Ann Wilson is known for her incredible singing talents, and though the band split years back, their music is still enjoyed today.

Ann Wilson (left) in Heart's "Little Queen" 1977
Ann Wilson (left) in Heart’s “Little Queen” 1977 (

“Ann has a vocal range of over three octaves. Her voice is edgy enough for rock music but is operatic enough to reach notes that no one else can. Even if you’re not a Heart fan, you can hear any Heart song and know that’s Ann Wilson singing. In short, she’s the perfect rock singer. I can’t find much information on her training; some sources say she was opera-trained while others say she was self-taught,” writes Guitar Space.

Berklee Online shares exactly how one of Heart’s biggest hits came about: “Heart was soon victimized by their macho-dominated label, Mushroom Records, which in 1977 sent a controversial ad (the Wilson sisters weren’t told about it) to trade publications implying they were lesbians. It showed them huddled together looking sexy, with the caption, ‘It was only our first time!’ Ann hit the roof and went back to her hotel after a concert to write a scathing reply in the aggressive song ‘Barracuda,’ which became a hit.”

And from The Top Tens: “On record she’s great, but in a live performance no one comes close to Ann Wilson. I say that because most vocalists don’t sound as good live (especially in challenging passages) as they do on record. Most recorded tracks are ‘sweetened’ up to correct pitch issues and to digitally construct a song from start to finish. However, with Ms. Wilson her voice is even better live than it is on record because she lets loose far more often than on a controlled recording.”

5. Joan Jett

Joan Jett seemingly does it all. From her work with the Runaways, to leading her own group, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, to record producing, to acting, she’s certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Joan Jett
Joan Jett (

Music Grotto writes that “Joan Jett is an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. She is best known for her work with the rock band The Blackhearts, as well as her solo career. Her hits include ‘I Love Rock ‘N Roll’ and ‘Crimson and Clover.’” Looks like we forgot to add guitarist to our lengthy list of abilities above.

“Her charisma, unique mezzo-soprano voice, and glam rock fetish earned her a spot as the lead singer of her first band, The Runaways, and eventually the international sensation Joan Jett & The Blackhearts,” writes Audio Captain. They go on to note that “the band released several chart-topping hits,” beyond those listed above.

U Discover Music shares: “A staunch feminist, Jett made her mark in music with songs such as the guitar-punk ‘Bad Reputation’ and The Blackhearts’ rendition of The Arrows’ song ‘I Love Rock’n’Roll.’ In 2015, she received a long-overdue accolade: an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame for her work with The Blackhearts.”

You may also be interested in:


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.

Follow on Google News

About the Author

Joe Vitiello

Content Strategist at Skyward IT Solutions
Freelance Writer & Photographer
Precision Nutrition Level 1
Introvert Level 10
Student for Life

The contents of this website do not constitute advice and are provided for informational purposes only. See our full disclaimer


  1. I agree with all except Joan Jett as #5. I believe Chrissy Hynes of the Pretenders did more in her time…Joan Jet could move to #6…

    1. Agree with 1.Stevie and 2. Janis but I would put Ann Wilson in 3, with Tina moving to 4th.

  2. I agree with the top four but believe that Chrissy Hynde of the Pretenders should be number five. She was a great great influence on all of us and on the rock and roll world where as Joan Jett certainly had her influence and could be number six.

  3. THE QUEEN OF ROCK & ROLL STEVIE NICKS WILL ALWAYS BE NUMBER ONE!!! I do like & appreciate the 4 others mentioned!! Stevie’s voice is unique & mystical & it touches my heart & soul!! Definitely the best therapy for anxiety & depression!! She’ll be 75 on May 26th & she’s still rockin!! STEVIE NICKS ALWAYS!!! 🖤🌙🎩🎶🤩

    1. More to the point, Wanda Jackson was the FIRST female singer to “cut loose” like Elvis – and she toured with Elvis, at 17, with her father on the road with her. Check out YouTube for some of her ’50’s concert footage. Before her, women were relegated to prim Gospel and Country recordings. Wanda blew it wide open.

    2. Cher or Diana Ross are indelible talents and both cultural and musical icons, but the are not
      not rock artists.

  4. Pat Benatar should be number 5 at a minimum. Her longevity and stage performance cannot be overlooked.

    1. Absolutely… often missed and under appreciated for her accomplishments … Does everybody forget that “Crimes of Passion” was one best selling all rock albums of the 70’s?

  5. Linda Ronstadt, Pat Benatar, are both better than Joan Jett. Aretha Franklin is better than all of them. Not sure Tina Turner belongs on this list. Ann Wilson is great, but not better than the three I named. As always, lists are subjective.

    1. What are you on about, there’s nothing remotely rock and roll about Aretha Franklin, if you think Tina Turner doesn’t belong on this list then you clearly know nothing about her music, she’s as rock and roll as it gets especially live. At one point she performed hard rock numbers from the late 70s to about 1985

    2. Aretha is not a rock artist. Tina Turner ABSOLUTELY belongs on this list. She taught Mick Jagger how to dance and move on stage, and he has tremendous respect for her as both a rock and genre-crossing artist. She began recording as early as 1960 – before any of the other artists referenced on the posts that I’ve read and was an influence on all of them – consciously or otherwise. And Ann Wilson is the female Robert Plant, but with a much better voice. Heart is renown by many as the preeminent Led Zeppelin cover band. I agree about Pat (she has a 5-octave range voice as oppose to Ann Wison’s 3 – but Ann Wilson is a true blues-based rock singer as opposed to Pat’s overall more pop-leaning catalog – and I love Pat’s songs. And Joan Jett may not even make my top 10. And I was sorry to read that Nancy Wilson was not mentioned as often as perhaps some may have expected.. She is understated guitar and vocal talentwho chose to play rhythm guitar over lead as she understood only she or Ann could be the focal point of Heart – and it did have to be Ann because of her voice. But Nancy, like Stevie Nicks, is an expert harmony singer whose voice, while imperfect, is soft, yet and both vulnerable and sexy. Chrissie Hyde definitely in the top 10 – but not before Nancy (and I can understand if that is a minority opinion – but would love to have that debate with someone.). Also, what about Christine McVie? one of the most unique and universally beloved rock talents of all time, even if her catalog skews soft rock, her music and vocal style are firmly anchored in blues rock. She also began performing and recording in the late 1960s as a blues-rock artist. She should should be number five.

  6. Linda Ronstadt should be in Joan Jetts place. So she didn’t write much, or play in the instrument, her voice was incredible.

      1. Linda for sure. Heard her on radio with The Stone Pony’s one of my first runs in a career of 46 years driving over the road. Hence my secret code name.on the cb radio for 46 years, Stone Pony! Thank you Linda for the music and my Handle!

      2. I agree. Well put. I couldn’t find the words to express why I did not think Linda did not belong in the consideration set for tis list. This resonates with me as to the justification.

  7. I agree with the top 4 but #5 should have went to Pay Benatar. Stevie Nicks is and will always be My #1

  8. Not sure how this list didn’t include Pat Benatar? From Wikipedia: she has two multi-platinum albums, five platinum albums, and 15 Billboard top 40 singles. She has sold over 35 million albums worldwide. She is also a four-time Grammy Award winner.

  9. Janis Joplin should be number one no argument. None of these top five could outsing her.joan jett does not deserve number five. And Grace Slick deserves to be on the list. Tina Turner is not really rock she is rhythumn and blues.

    1. You’re referring to early Tina Turner. The solo Tina is not rhythm and blues, far from it, she’s as rock and roll as it gets especially live.

    2. Don’t think so, yes Janis had a powerful emotive, raw vocals but her range was limited

  10. I will add to the chorus of “where is Pat Benatar?”

    Also think the title is a bit misleading. This is hardly “of all time”. More like “Of the mid 20th Century”. In that context it’s fair. Otherwise where are Doro Pesch? Courtney Love? Tarja Turunen? Amy Lee? Hailey Williams?

    1. Well let’s take a vote! I don’t know these people in my lifetime. Does anyone? Please comment

      1. Amy Lee of Evanescence us easily the most haunting voice in hard rock. And a big yes on Pat Benatar. Also would take a look at Lita Ford and Liz Phair. And if you don’t know those names, you shouldn’t be writing about music, no offense.

      2. Amen! Somebody finally realized Grace Slick was missing.

        Very strong, powerful voice. Love to hear her sing. Jefferson airplane Jefferson starship be the one.


    1. Joan & Pat are real rock n roll. If anything, Stevie isn’t. I agree Grace should be there.

    2. I agree! I put her at number 1. I like Janis Joplin, but she was a blues singer. And Tina Turner was a pop singer. Joan Jet had a song. While though whole San Francisco rock scene lived at the Jefferson Airplane mansion.

      1. Tina’s studio material is mostly pop with some rock in between but her live shows were rock, that’s why she’s included

    3. Amen! Somebody finally realized Grace Slick was missing.

      Very strong, powerful voice. Love to hear her sing. Jefferson airplane Jefferson starship be the one.

  12. Joan Jett best ever hands down, she played the guitar, wrote the songs, had her own band, sold the records out the back seat of her car, looked snarly, wrote snarly songs, yep she gets my vote always has!

    1. I agree with all except for Tina Turner she should be in the top 10 but not top five you have to put Pat Benatar in there instead of Tina Turner.. Pat had much more rock and roll and more hits than Tina…. come on now…

      1. Are you serious? Have you seen Tina’s live shows, she’s the epitome of rock and roll and has 4 rock grammys. Not sure who has more hits between the two but I don’t think that’s the point really, it’s about greatest female rockers

  13. Stevie Nick’s
    Pat Benetar
    Ann Wilson
    Janice Joplin
    Linda Ronstadt
    End if story

    1. Yeah, I was thinking of Pat Benatar as well. Linda Rondstadt didn’t occur to me, but a good consideration.

    2. Joan Jett shouldn’t be on this l ist! Debbie Harry & Pat Benatar both could be on the list if you bumped Janis Joplin down to #6.

    1. I beg to differ. Unbelievable range and the voice no one had a voice like hers!

    2. Agree. When Christine McVie interviewed Buckingham the condition of him joining the band was the inclusion of Nicks. The warble is a bit much and the band became about her, with her jingle songs. All the same. Being popular for a fair time does not equate to talent. Grace Slick has a great voice, Chrissie Amphlet of the Divinyls was a powerhouse singer songwriter performer, second to none. Anyone heard Janice sing Summertime, her range is perfect. Nina Hagen is another great with 8 octaves of range and highly original. These women didn’t just flaunt their looks, they dared to be different and talented. How about Suzi Quatro, bass player, lead singer.

Comments are closed.