1. Entertainment
Send to a Friend via Email

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

10 hot performances by 10 women who made rock history

Which is hottest? All of them!


In a recent article about 10 women who made rock history, I included performances of some of the songs with which they are most closely associated. Now, we're going to cut loose and rock to some of the hottest performances by those 10 women, and in the process see more reasons why they made rock history.

1. Pat Benatar - "Heartbreaker"

Pat Benatar in 1980
Photo by Michael Putland / Getty Images

One of Pat Benatar's earliest singles, from her second album, In The Heat of the Night, released in 1979, "Heartbreaker" has the distinction of being the first Benatar single to chart, peaking at #23. Watch this performance and you'll understand why.

Watch Pat Benatar perform "Heartbreaker"

2. Chrissie Hynde - "Middle of the Road"

Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders
Photo by Carlos Alvarez / Getty Images

This song if from Learning to Crawl, The Pretenders' third album. The first two were gold records. This one earned platinum, with 1-million+ sales. It is clear in this performance that Chrissie Hynde owned this song, in every sense of the word. She wrote it, sang it, played her usual rhythm guitar, and ends with a scorching harp solo. Fasten your seat belts.

Watch The Pretenders perform "Middle of the Road" live in London

3. Joan Jett - "School Days"

Joan Jett in 2004
Photo by Michael Gries / Getty Images

"School Days" first appeared on The Runaways' third album, Waitin' for the Night in 1977. It was co-written by Joan Jett and the band's manager, Kim Fowley. It later became a concert set list favorite when Jett formed The Blackhearts. I spent a lot of time trying to decide whether to use a Blackhearts performance or a Runaways performance. My indecision is your gain. You're getting both. I dare you to stay still during either one.

Watch The Runaways perform "School Days"

Watch Joan Jett and The Blackhearts perfrom "School Days"

4. Janis Joplin - "Ball and Chain"

Janis Joplin in 1969
Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images

Janis Joplin was one of several artists whose performances at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 earned them a breakthrough. (Another of them, a certain Mr. Hendrix is seen in the audience for the performance in the first shot of the video.) Her rendition of the blues standard, "Ball and Chain" was the final track on the 1968 release, Cheap Thrills, Joplin's second and last album with Big Brother and The Holding Company. It's not hard to see why her music went viral after this performance.

Watch Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company perform "Ball and Chain" at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival

5. Stevie Nicks - "Sisters of the Moon"

Stevie Nicks
Photo by Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Fleetwood Mac has had more good songwriters per capita than most bands: Peter Green, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Bob Welch, and Danny Kirwan wrote a big chunk of the songs on the band's first ten albums. After Stevie Nicks joined up in 1975, she wrote some of the band's best known songs, like "Dreams", "Sara", "Rhiannon" and "Landslide". She also wrote some that aren't as well known, like "Sisters of the Moon". When you watch this performance, you may well wonder why it isn't better known. I daresay you may even enjoy it almost as much as Mr. Fleetwood did in this performance.

Watch Fleetwood Mac perform "Sisters of the Moon"

6. Suzi Quatro - "Your Mama Won't Like Me"

Suzy Quatro in 1975
Photo by Michael Putland / Getty Images

Suzi Quatro is not only a talented bass guitarist, singer and songwriter, she has the attitude it took for a female to make it in what was, in the late '60s and early '70s, still very much a man's game. "I played the boys at their own game," Quatro said in a recent interview with Detroit Metro Times. "It doesn't occur to me if a 6-foot-tall guy has pissed me off not to square up to him. If I wanted to play a bass solo, it never occurred to me that I couldn't." That 'take no prisoners' attitude has frequently been reflected in her music -- see (and hear) below.

Watch Suzi Quatro perform "Your Mama Won't Like Me"

7. Grace Slick - "Somebody to Love"

Grace Slick in 1970
Photo by McCarthy / Daily Express / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Grace Slick wasn't just another pretty face with a great voice. Oh, she had those things alright, but besides that she wrote songs that put Jefferson Airplane on the map -- songs like "White Rabbit" and "Somebody To Love", songs that Rolling Stone thought enough of to put both on their list of the greatest songs of all time. If it's true that nobody can interpret a song better than the person who wrote it, the proof is in this performance, captured on film during a studio demo session in 1970. After this, the song will never sound the same to you again.

Watch Jefferson Airplane perform "Somebody to Love"

8. Patti Smith - "My Generation"

Patti Smith in 1976
Photo by Graham Wiltshire / Getty Images

Patti Smith is a poet. As a lyricist, she has never been afraid to get in your face, grab you by the shoulders and shake you a few times. As a performer, she also has the the confidence and ability to take someone else's well known song, and make it seem like her own. Thus is was when she took on The Who's signature song, "My Generation". I doubt that Pete Townshend was the least bit offended.

Watch Patti Smith Group perform "My Generation" in Germany in 1979

9. Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson - "White Lightnin' and Wine" and "Crazy On You"

Nancy Wilson and Ann Wilson of Heart
Photo by Mark Sullivan / Contour by Getty Images

Like many of the most influential women in rock, Ann and Nancy Wilson have the ability to do many things well: write songs, sing them, play them on multiple instruments. That combination is what has kept Heart at the top of their game since the early '70s. These two songs (both from their 1976 debut album, Dreamboat Annie) were co-written by the Wilson sisters, and showcase all of those aforementioned talents.

Watch Heart perform "White Lightnin' and Wine" in 1976

Watch Heart perform "Crazy On You" in 2010

  1. About.com
  2. Entertainment
  3. Classic Rock
  4. Reviews & Recommendations
  5. Top Picks Lists
  6. 10 hot performances by 10 women who made rock history

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.