Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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I LOVE to listen to female singers. Always have. But I have a special place in my heart for these - it's hard to rank them among themselves.
  • Ann Wilson of Heart
  • Stevie Nicks
  • Linda Ronstadt
  • Cher
I notice these are all white. They are from my love of rock music. But I guess I would equal this with a list of R&B that rivals them in every way:
  • Tina Turner
  • Gladys Knight
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Diana Ross
Anyone interested in discussion?

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Re: Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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On Heart - I recently found out that the end of the guitar intro to Crazy On You where she hits it hard to lead into the song - at 2:30 in on this video - was an homage to The Moody Blues acoustic guitar into to Justin Hayward's Question. They were all apparently big fans of the Moody Blues.




And, of course, Ann and Nancy further cemented themselves as Rock Royalty when they appeared in 2012 at the Kennedy Center Honors for Led Zeppelin, crushing Stairway to Heaven. A true Tour de Force.



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Re: Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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I really like your lists above, but sans Cher. Not a big fan of her vocals. I'd add Barbara Streisand. I don't own any of her stuff but my mom played her records a lot from the time I can remember and she has a distinct sound. Lots of memories there. I think I'd also add Kate Bush. Her voice is controversial I think and I know a number of people find her vocals annoying. But Wuthering Heights still blows me away. Karen Carpenter is another fantastic distinctive voice. And I love Tina Turner.

Wild - I was JUST watching that Kennedy Center performance again last week after doing a YouTube tour of Led Zeppelin. Seeing the band's emotional reaction to Heart's rendition of Stairway is awesome.

I've also been listening to this a fair bit lately, from one of the greatest albums of all time. Christine McVie. I think this is my favorite song off of Rumours.


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Re: Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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Great points, Drak. I had momentarily forgot Karen Carpenter - one of the truly great and unique voices of the era, and I'm a HUGE fan. But she was certainly NOT a rock singer, and to me, neither was Streisand. Great voices, but that's why they didn't make that list of mine.

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Re: Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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True on Streisand for the most part - but a lot of the stuff my mom played in the 70s could be classified in the soft rock genre (like the Guilty album with Barry Gibb, a Star is Born etc.). And I think the Carpenters are also classified as soft rock with one of their main influences being The Beatles.
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Re: Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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You know who also had a great voice but was more of a one hit wonder?

Kim Carnes with Betty David Eyes. She had that Rod Stewart-esque vocal thing goin.
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Re: Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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Drak wrote:
Mon Jun 14, 2021 7:06 pm
True on Streisand for the most part - but a lot of the stuff my mom played in the 70s could be classified in the soft rock genre (like the Guilty album with Barry Gibb, a Star is Born etc.). And I think the Carpenters are also classified as soft rock with one of their main influences being The Beatles.
Well, I'd say Streisand was more of a Broadway type singer - but I DID like her songs in A Star is Born - especially Woman in the Moon.

And the Carpenters were VERY soft rock :rw) :rw) :rw) - but again, I'm a HUGE fan. Easily one of the top 5 female voices in the century. And SOOOOOO unique!

I like the singers of the era, because they get by on the power and quality of their voice, and it's natural range, without going crazy away from the melody. I don't really like singers like Christina Aguilera or Mariah Carey, who just have to go crazy all over the place to show you how "great" they are - what I call vocal calisthenics.

Like Ann Wilson at the very end of Stairway to Heaven - just a clear, powerful voice, each clear note with no fancy stuff needed. Aguilera would be doing all kinds of scales up and down. Ugh.

But that's just MY preferences. Other's mileage may vary.

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Re: Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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Drak wrote:
Mon Jun 14, 2021 7:10 pm
You know who also had a great voice but was more of a one hit wonder?

Kim Carnes with Betty David Eyes. She had that Rod Stewart-esque vocal thing goin.
Yeah, I think she had a run-in with a clothesline when she was younger... But it WAS a great song.

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Re: Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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My top 5 in alpha order:

Mama Cass
Jacqui McShee (of Pentangle)
Grace Slick
Tina Turner
Ann Wilson

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Re: Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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carmenjonze wrote:
Fri Jul 16, 2021 9:04 am
My top 5 in alpha order:

Mama Cass
Jacqui McShee (of Pentangle)
Grace Slick
Tina Turner
Ann Wilson
Interesting list - especially McShee. I'm a huge fan of Celtic music - but it's the most whitebread of all music! :rw) :rw) :rw) There are some great women vocalists in Celtic music.

I have to applaud your list - Yes, every one of those women are all-time greats.

As an aside, I'm listening via Audible the 2013 autobiography of Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, Kicking and Dreaming.

Highly recommended. They have quite a story. Women in rock had a hard time of it. Especially Nancy Wilson - who would have DREAMED a woman could play rock guitar, right? Think about it - Heart was one of the first rock bands where a woman played rock guitar. The only thing before that was the folks singers playing the acoustic. But the great women rockers before them, including Cass, Slick and Turner, among others, were singers only. One of my favorite videos is the opening of the Heart Crazy On You where Nancy shines and shows her rock chops.

I mean, Jeeze, what was the first all-female rock band where they all played their own instruments? I guess that would have to be The Runaways in the 70's. Rolling Stone says the band Fanny in 1969 was the first all-female band to have an album on a major label. At least in Fleetwood Mac Christine McVie played keyboards... Of course, Stevie Nicks could play guitar, but usually it was an acoustic.

But all-girl rock bands? I mean the only two other big names were the Go-go's and The Bangles. I thought the Go-gos were okay, but was a big fan of the Bangles.

One part of the story I love from the Wilson sisters autobiography is that their lives changed forever when they heard the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. But they were different from all their friends. Their friends wanted to date the Beatles. To hell with that, the Wilson girls thought - they wanted to BE the Beatles!

And that's the right mindset!

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Re: Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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Drak wrote:
Mon Jun 14, 2021 6:53 pm
I really like your lists above, but sans Cher. Not a big fan of her vocals. I'd add Barbara Streisand. I don't own any of her stuff but my mom played her records a lot from the time I can remember and she has a distinct sound. Lots of memories there. I think I'd also add Kate Bush. Her voice is controversial I think and I know a number of people find her vocals annoying. But Wuthering Heights still blows me away. Karen Carpenter is another fantastic distinctive voice. And I love Tina Turner.

Wild - I was JUST watching that Kennedy Center performance again last week after doing a YouTube tour of Led Zeppelin. Seeing the band's emotional reaction to Heart's rendition of Stairway is awesome.

I've also been listening to this a fair bit lately, from one of the greatest albums of all time. Christine McVie. I think this is my favorite song off of Rumours.


Karen Carpenter is definitely one of the best female singer ever. I've been a fan of her's ever since the early 70s. Back then, my best friend and I were talking with his father about Karen Carpenter. He was a musician before WWII and he accepted an offer with The Glenn Miller Orchestra but a week later was drafted into the Army. He gave up on music and went into another field. He commented that Karen Carpenter had an unbelievable voice and range and could easily hold her own against any of the female singers from the past or present. I still listen to The Carpenters and I'm still blown away by her voice.
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Re: Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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One name that seems to be left off the list is Janis Joplin. She had a raw, powerful voice.


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Re: Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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gounion wrote:
Fri Jul 16, 2021 11:30 am
Interesting list - especially McShee. I'm a huge fan of Celtic music - but it's the most whitebread of all music! :rw) :rw) :rw) There are some great women vocalists in Celtic music.

I have to applaud your list - Yes, every one of those women are all-time greats.

As an aside, I'm listening via Audible the 2013 autobiography of Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, Kicking and Dreaming.

Highly recommended. They have quite a story. Women in rock had a hard time of it. Especially Nancy Wilson - who would have DREAMED a woman could play rock guitar, right? Think about it - Heart was one of the first rock bands where a woman played rock guitar. The only thing before that was the folks singers playing the acoustic. But the great women rockers before them, including Cass, Slick and Turner, among others, were singers only. One of my favorite videos is the opening of the Heart Crazy On You where Nancy shines and shows her rock chops.

I mean, Jeeze, what was the first all-female rock band where they all played their own instruments? I guess that would have to be The Runaways in the 70's. Rolling Stone says the band Fanny in 1969 was the first all-female band to have an album on a major label. At least in Fleetwood Mac Christine McVie played keyboards... Of course, Stevie Nicks could play guitar, but usually it was an acoustic.

But all-girl rock bands? I mean the only two other big names were the Go-go's and The Bangles. I thought the Go-gos were okay, but was a big fan of the Bangles.

One part of the story I love from the Wilson sisters autobiography is that their lives changed forever when they heard the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. But they were different from all their friends. Their friends wanted to date the Beatles. To hell with that, the Wilson girls thought - they wanted to BE the Beatles!

And that's the right mindset!
I love Fanny. Filipina-led! They did Motown covers.



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Re: Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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Two women how should be included are Petula Clark and Toni Tennille. Both would be considered "soft rock" but both have terrific voices.

When you hear Downtown you immediately think of Petulas Clark. Her voice was clear and crisp and had a good vocal range.
[Colour My World[/i]





Toni Tennille was part of The Captain and Tennille duo in the early 70s when they had their hits. Her voice was an lower, "raspy voice" and she could sing softly, like in Muskrat Love or belt it out as in 1954 Boogie Blues.

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Re: Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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Number6 wrote:
Sun Jul 18, 2021 8:15 pm
Two women how should be included are Petula Clark and Toni Tennille. Both would be considered "soft rock" but both have terrific voices.

When you hear Downtown you immediately think of Petulas Clark. Her voice was clear and crisp and had a good vocal range.
[Colour My World[/i]





Toni Tennille was part of The Captain and Tennille duo in the early 70s when they had their hits. Her voice was an lower, "raspy voice" and she could sing softly, like in Muskrat Love or belt it out as in 1954 Boogie Blues.

I adore both of them. My parents considered Toni Tennille an imitator, which she was, but when people imitate well, I'm down with it.

And if we're gonna go soft rock, can't forget my girls Olivia Newton John and Helen Reddy.



Really sh#tty opening, shame on Dick Clark.



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Re: Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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carmenjonze wrote:
Sun Jul 18, 2021 11:40 pm
I adore both of them. My parents considered Toni Tennille an imitator, which she was, but when people imitate well, I'm down with it.

And if we're gonna go soft rock, can't forget my girls Olivia Newton John and Helen Reddy.



Really sh#tty opening, shame on Dick Clark.


I like Helen Reddy and Olivia Newton John as well. I have a couple of Olivia Newton John's songs on my playlist for when I ride my bike. Another singer I love dearly is Anne Murray whose biggest hit was probably Snowbird. Although she started out as a country singer she crossed over to pop/easy listening. She's remarkable in that she has perfect pitch. One of my favorite songs by her is Could I Have This Dance. I always thought it would be a perfect marriage proposal song to play as the couple danced. Or maybe that's just the romantic in me.


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Re: Top Female Vocalists Rock Era 60s-70s

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A couple of more names to add to the list. Connie Francis and Lesley Gore. Connie Francis's style was more in line with standard songs like the one our parents listened to in the 40s and 50s. She is probably best remember for starring in and singing the song Where the Boys Are.

Lesley Gore's style was more upbeat and she tended to convey energy in her songs like It's My Party, Judy's Turn to Cry, and Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows.
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