Women Who Rock

Celebrate Women’s History Month with these books about women who rock!

Black Diamond Queens: Africa American Women and Rock and Roll by Maureen Mahon
Not only does this book explore the lives of black women in rock-and-roll between the 1950s and 1980s, but Mahon includes great photos and interview snippets. Black Diamond Queens is a thorough and academic account for music buffs to enjoy. 

Women Who Rock: Bessie to Beyonce. Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl by Evelyn McDonnell
Women Who Rock celebrates 104 of the greatest female musicians in rock history. Each chapter is devoted to a particular musician and the chapters are organized chronologically, from Bessie Smith to Brittany Howard. These are nice profiles and the book allows for the reader to appreciate how women have contributed to rock since the genre became popular.  

Rock-and-Roll Woman: The 50 Fiercest Female Rockers by Meredith Ochs
While McDonnell’s Women Who Rock encompasses a wide variety of names, Ochs devotes Rock-and-Roll Woman to 50 of the greatest women in music. She explores the personal journeys and public careers of solo artists and bands from the 1950s to today, from multiple genres. She also incorporates a few more names (like Karen O and Grace Potter) that aren’t found in Women Who Rock.  

Revenge of the She-Punks: A Feminist Music History from Poly Styrene to Pussy Riot by Vivien Goldman
Goldman has a unique insight into the world of rock music as she began her career as a music journalist in the 1970s. Each chapter of Revenge of the She-Punks covers four different themes that she believes are at the heart of every female rocker’s music, from girly identity to money to love/unlove to protest. Within each chapter she provides examples of artists that questioned status quo and challenged each chapter’s theme.  

Nobody Asked Me About The Girls: Women, Music, and Fame by Lisa Robinson
“Over my four-decade career interviewing and writing about musicians, I was most often asked what Mick Jagger or Michael Jackson or David Bowie or Jay-Z were really like. For the most part, women were dismissed.” Robinson is a music journalist who has gotten to interview and become close with famous musicians (she provides many fun behind-the-scenes photos of her with celebrities). Her tone is conversational, making this a fun read. Similar to Goldman, she devotes each chapter of Nobody Asked Me About The Girls to a particular topic (fame, stage fright, age, abuse, etc) and explores how women in rock-and-roll have dealt with and continue to deal with each topic throughout their careers.