women of early punk

7 Extraordinary Women of the Early Punk Era

Take a moment to learn more about some of the women of punk who pioneered the style in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Jayne County

Jayne County (b. 1947) is a queer and trans punk trailblazer who is often considered the first openly transgender singer in rock. Although she is a rock legend, she is also an artist and actress whose music cannot be defined by just one genre. Recommended listening: The Electric Chairs and Deviation.

Poly Styrene

Poly Styrene (1957-2011) is recognized as the first multiracial frontwoman of a punk band. She is best known as the founder of X-Ray Spex but she also had a long, rocking solo career that dabbled in new wave. Her legacy is upheld by daughter Celeste Bell. Recommended listening: Germfree Adolescents and Generation Indigo.

Alice Bag

Alice Bag (b.1958) is the co-founder of the Bags with fellow punk icon Patricia Morrison. She helped shape Los Angeles’ early punk sound and continues to uplift Chicana and female voices in music to this day. Recommend listening: Survive and Disco’s Dead.

The Slits

The Slits (formed 1976) are essential to the 1970s British punk scene and true punk mentality. They actively fought back against the conventions of what women were expected to look and act like at the time. Recommended listening: Typical Girls and Cut.

The Dishrags

The Dishrags (1976-1980) are not only the first all-female punk band from Canada but also considered one of the first Canadian punk bands ever. Recommended listening: Past Is Past and Death in the Family.

Bush Tetras

Cynthia Sley, Pat Place, and Laura Kennedy of Bush Tetras (formed 1979) were hugely influential in the new wave and post-punk scenes, especially in New York City. The group (minus Kennedy, who passed away) has since reformed. Recommended listening: Too Many Creeps and Things That Go Boom in the Night.

Shonen Knife

Shonen Knife (formed 1981) pioneered punk and alternative rock in Japan as an all-female band. They often mix harder riffs with pop melodies and untraditionally upbeat lyrics. The group is still going strong today. Recommended listening: Burning Farm and Pretty Little Baka Guy.

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