The Top 8 Female-Fronted Rock Bands of the ’80s

While it’s not necessary to separate “female” rock bands from the totality of rock groups out in the world, it can be fun sometimes to take a step back and admire those lady-fronted projects that have accomplished so much and knocked our collective socks off.

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Below we take our hat off to eight female-fronted rock bands from the 1980s. Let the festivities begin.

1. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

It doesn’t get more badass than Joan Jett. She is rebellion personified. Jett rose to popularity in the mid-’70s with the group the Runaways, thanks to songs like “Cherry Bomb.” But she really took her power in the ’80s with her group the Blackhearts (one of the greatest monikers ever). With that band, she released songs like “Bad Reputation” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You.”

2. Heart

The Seattle-born band (shoutout Bam Bam) wrote hits like “Magic Man,” “Crazy on You” and “Barracuda” in the ’70s. But their popularity didn’t stop there. In the ’80s, they dropped tracks like “What About Love,” “These Dreams,” “Alone” and “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You.” Comprised of sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, who sang and played guitar like gods, Heart was as formidable as any band out there.

3. Tina Turner

While not a band, per se, Tina Turner, big hair and all, put out three studio LPs in the ’80s, Private Dancer in 1984, Break Every Rule in 1986, and Foreign Affair in 1989. There are more hits on that album than a three-round boxing bout. Tracks like “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” “I Can’t Stand the Rain” and “Typical Male.” Her 1984 offering was even selected for preservation by the Library of Congress.

4. Fleetwood Mac

The British band was formed in the late ’60s, but in the late ’70s Stevie Nicks joined the group (with guitarist Lindsey Buckingham) and things went to the next level. In 1977, the group released Rumors and became one of (if not the) biggest bands in the world. That momentum brought them into the ’80s, a decade in which they released two LPs, Mirage in 1982 and Tango in the Night in 1985. Both albums were popular and yielded big songs, including “Big Love,” below.

5. Blondie

Certainly one of the coolest groups of the ’80s, Blondie was also rather forward-thinking, the first mainstream group to bridge rock and rap. Blondie’s 1981 song “Rapture” included rapping from lead singer Debbie Harry and it references Fab Five Freddie. In the band’s recently unearthed track, “Yuletide Throwdown,” Freddie raps, too. The band’s 1980 song, “Call Me,” is also a big hit from the decade.

6. The Pretenders

Formed in 1978, The Pretenders were fronted by Chrissie Hynde and released big songs like “2000 Miles” in 1983 and “Don’t Get Me Wrong” in 1986. Hynde’s voice is synonymous with the ’80s but the band didn’t stop there. The British-American group released perhaps their biggest hit in the following decade, “I’ll Stand By You.” The group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.

7. The Go Gos

Formed in L.A. in 1978, the group has since come to be known by many fans as the most successful all-woman rock band ever—for its songs, members, and influence. Comprised of Charlotte Caffey on guitar and keys, frontwoman Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock on drums, Kathy Valentine on bass, and Jane Wiedlin on guitar, the group’s debut LP, Beauty and the Beat gave the world songs like “Our Lips Are Sealed” and “We Got the Beat.” Sadly, the band was only around until 1985. The members broke up and went on to solo careers.

8. Pat Benatar

While not a band, per se, Benatar released seven albums in the 1980s after releasing her debut, In the Heat of the Night, in 1979. During her illustrious career, Benatar boasts two multi-platinum albums, five platinum albums, and 15 top 40 singles. Her song, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” from 1980 remains a classic—from any era.

Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

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