The Women Rolling Stone Forgot

By Sophie Rae

This week, Rolling Stone magazine published a list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time– and only two of them are women. With Bonnie Raitt at #89 and Joni Mitchell at #75, I can’t help but feel that some serious oversights have been made, not only by the voters (made up of mostly famous male guitarists), but by the music-world at large. So, without further ado, here are just some of the many fabulous ladies who I think should have been on Rolling Stone’s list and who should be recognized and respected as the incredible guitarists that they are. Comment with your favorite female guitarists!

Carrie Brownstein

To put it simply, Carrie Brownstein is a goddess. Best known as the guitarist and vocalist in Portland-based Riot Grrrl band, Sleater-Kinney, Brownstein also played in Excuse 17 and Heavens to Betsy in the early 90s. Now playing in the band Wild Flag, Carrie continues to blow me away with her incredible riffs and solos. She is my ultimate guitar inspiration! And if all that weren’t enough, she also has a hilarious sketch comedy show called Portlandia, which began airing in January 2011.

Lita Ford

Easily one of the most bad-ass girl guitarists around, Lita Ford  was the lead guitarist of the Runaways from the band’s formation  in 1975 to their split in 1979. After the Runaways, Lita took her super-shredder powers solo and has proven time and time again that you don’t need a penis to rock!

Sister Rosetta Tharpe 

I first heard about Sister Rosetta Tharpe this past summer, while working at Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of her before! A pioneering gospel singer and songwriter, Tharpe gained popularity in the 1930s and 1940s and came to be known as the “original soul sister” of recorded music. She was a truly incredible blues guitarist and has so much ‘tude (see 2:15)!

Allison Robertson

I’ve loved the Donnas ever since I saw their hilarious music video for “Get Rid of that Girl” which they made when they were all still in high school. While I love pretty much everything about the Donnas, Allison Robertson’s guitar playing is definitely my favorite part of the band. Her solos are sooooo great and she’s such an intense performer!


13 Comments on “The Women Rolling Stone Forgot”

  1. John C. says:

    Currently, my favorite female guitarist is Sophie Kasakove a.k.a. Sophie Rae. (lead guitar/vocals Care Bears On Fire) Her stage presence, raw talent, maturity, and leadership qualities should make her a star. It will be excting to watch her develop over time. Hopefully for many years to come.

  2. Tim Jones says:

    Carrie Brownstein is a great guitarist, but there’s another guitarist in Wild Flag I’d rank just as highly: Mary Timony! And, considering guitarists active at the moment, I’d also like to recommend Theresa Wayman and Emily Kokal of Warpaint, Laura Pleasants of Kylesa, Serbian blues guitarist Ana Popovic, Finnish blues guitarist Erja Lyytinen, Wata of Japanese band Boris, and England’s Anna Calvi – guitarists from all over!

    • Armadillo says:

      Mary Timony’s unique tunings, crisp riffs, and compelling compositions stick in my mind.
      Starting with Autoclave, one of the most under appreciated bands I’ve yet encountered since Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, and moving on through Helium, and other collaborations, her stellar talents as a guitarist and songwriter shine out brightly. No one else plays like Mary Timony

  3. Stinos says:

    Orianthi, Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson), Sylvia Juncosa (‘Lick my Pussy, Eddie van Halen’ – brilliant album), Nancy Wilson of Heart, Poison Ivy of the Cramps, en of course the most influential female guitarist (and bassplayer) of all time though not many realize it: Carol Kaye who played on “Then He Kissed Me” (The Crystals), “La Bamba” (Ritchie Valens), “Needles and Pins” (Jackie DeShannon), The Beat Goes On” (Sonny & Cher)”, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” (The Righteous Brothers) and Zappa’s Freak Out! album.

  4. Sorry but if you are going to mention the names above how can YOU forget to mention Kelly Johnson of Girlschool. Kelly should have been in the Rolling Stones top 100 Guitarists without question!

  5. Bob says:

    Holly Beth Vincent can crank it out too. See

    L7 is not too shabby either

  6. kris lauwereys says:

    And how can Susan Tedeschi be forgotten in the top 100!!

  7. Cyndi says:

    JOAN JETT!! That woman IS rock n roll.

  8. NICK says:

    Love Carrie, but Allison is where it’s at. I’ve had the privilege of seeing The Donnas live many times now, and Allison never fails to impress!

  9. scantron says:

    Kaki King and Shannon Wright

  10. Ken says:

    Memphis Minnie should be at the top of ANY list of important and innovative guitarists, as well as songwriters. Also, consider Mattie Delaney, Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas, Sister O.M. Terrell, Etta Baker and Elizabeth Cotton.

  11. erica says:

    marissa paternoster from screaming females!

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