Throughout the 1970s, several all-women bands made a splash in music. Not only did they create catchy tunes, but they also inspired generations of young girls to pursue their dreams.
Unfortunately, in an industry dominated by males, many of these groups still don’t get the recognition they deserve.
Today, we’re doing our part to shine a spotlight on five great female-led bands from the 70s.
About All Women Bands of the 1970s
Up through the late 1960s, males dominated the music scene. However, at the start of the 1970s, talented women began forming bands to challenge gender norms. These groups displayed a fearless and rebellious spirit as artists, songwriters, and performers and made massive waves throughout the rock and pop charts.
They used their dedication, creativity, and passions to transform the landscape. Many realized their public platform was ideal to advocate for gender equality and women’s rights. The impact of these powerful women opened the door for female entertainers of today. Their influence helped inspire change in the entertainment scene and society.
While many other girl groups formed during the 1970s, these five rose to the top. We hope to help you gain a deeper appreciation for the careers and influence.
#1 The Runaways
The Runaways formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1975. Original members included Joan Jett, Sandy West, Cherie Currie, Lita Ford, and Jackie Fox. Their debut album, released in 1976, featured some of their biggest hits, including Cherry Bomb and Queens of Noise.
Open for big names like Cheap Trick and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers earned them a lot of credit within the rock music scene. After releasing their second album in 1977, the women took their show overseas and traveled the world. Their success was mildly popular in the United States but much larger overseas.
Unfortunately, personality conflicts and substance abuse began to cause issues. Fox and Currie left, and their manager soon followed suit. By 1979, The Runaways had entirely disbanded. However, Joan Jett went on to have a very successful solo career. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame welcomed Jett in 2015.
Watch the Joan Jett documentary: Bad Reputation.
#2 The Pointer Sisters
Another great California-based girl group, The Pointer Sisters, formed in the early 1970s in Oakland. Ruth, Anita, Bonnie, and June Pointer began singing in church and later performed in clubs to fine-tune their skills. In October 1974, they became the first African American vocal group to perform at the famous Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.
Some of their biggest hits include I’m So Excited, Jump (For My Love), and Automatic. The sisters won multiple Grammy and American Music Awards and joined the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. Their powerful vocals and unique style continue to resonate with fans decades later.
In 1977, Bonnie and June left to pursue solo careers. Additionally, Ruth and Anita landed a contract, and June later joined them.
The Pointer Sisters released five more albums until their final record in 1993, Only Sisters Can Do That.
Sadly, June stepped away in 1993 and died of lung cancer in 2006. Ruth’s daughter, Issa, stepped in to fill the role and continued performing until 2010. Anita passed away in December 2022.
#3 Sister Sledge
Formed in 1971 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sister Sledge consisted of Debbie, Joni, Kim, and Kathy Sledge. As granddaughters of opera singer Viola Williams, the girls came by their talent naturally. Much like The Pointer Sisters, their singing career began in local churches.
Their big break occurred when Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of Chic collaborated with them on the hit album We Are Family. It grew into a platinum-certified, Grammy-nominated album that peaked during the disco era. Their most popular songs include He’s the Greatest Dancer, Lost in Music, and Thinking of You.
Unfortunately, Joni Sledge passed away from natural causes in March 2017. After her death, sisters Debbie and Kim announced that they’d continue to perform as Sister Sledge. While not frequent performers, they do make stage appearances from time to time.
Fanny earned a reputation as being one of the first all-women rock bands of the 1970s. Formed initially as Wild Honey in Sacramento, California, the group relocated to Los Angeles. Founding members included Jean and June Millington, Nickey Barclay, and Alice de Buhr.
In 1970, Fanny released their debut self-titled LP. A follow-up album, Charity Ball, launched their career and landed them on the Billboard charts. The women were far more successful in the United Kingdom than in the United States.
Fanny earned the support of famous artists like David Bowie, Deep Purple, and George Harrison. This allowed them to open for big names and tour worldwide. Unfortunately, the artists struggled to balance their roles, which resulted in internal struggles.
By 1975, the band fizzled out internally, but their songs were gaining momentum. Record labels hoped to ink a deal with them to capitalize on the popularity. Sadly, Fanny couldn’t agree on the terms and threw in the towel the following year.
Honorable mention goes to The Women of Heart: Ann and Nancy Wilson.
#5 The Go-Gos
Our final great 1970s girl group is The Go-Gos. Launched out of Los Angeles in 1978, this all-female band featured Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte Caffey, Kathy Valentine, and Gina Schock.
The Go-Gos created several pop-rock hits that were a mixture of punk, new wave, and power pop. Songs like We Got the Beat, Our Lips Are Sealed, Vacation, and Head Over Heels boosted their popularity.
However, punk rock was more than a musical style for them. The bandmates jumped headfirst into the lifestyle that accompanied it. Pills and cocaine were rampant amongst the members. In addition, trashing hotel rooms and bad behavior were the norm.
The women enjoyed great success well into the 1980s with their Vacation and Talk Show albums. MTV also helped contribute to their fame.
While the band received multiple Grammy nominations, they never won. The Go-Gos disbanded in 1985 but had numerous reunions. In 2021, the group joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and finished touring in 2022.
Find out which woman made our list of the 5 Greatest Protest Songs of the 1970s.
Girl Groups Led the Way In the 1970s
The all-women bands of the 1970s played a significant role in setting the stage for future female artists. Not only did they create incredible tunes, but these rocking females also helped society take steps towards equality. They proved that creating quality music has nothing to do with gender.
Who is your favorite 1970s girl group? Let us know in the comments!