“For a sex that peoples a little more than half the world, it’s quite surprising how few women have become rock musicians…”. So begins an interview by Michael Pierce from the March 1973 issue of Guitar Player magazine (in Molenda M (ed) (2011). Guitar Player Presents Guitar Heroes of the ’70s. Backbeat Books, Milwaukee WI. p. 163). In this piece, he talks to June Millington, lead guitarist of what turned out to be a fairly short-lived all-female rock group called Fanny. I have to admit that, out of the forty guitarists featured, she was one of the very few I hadn’t heard of and one of only two women (the other was Bonnie Raitt, who was a name on my radar).
I can think of a few more ladies who are known for their guitar playing in the intervening period, particularly if I’m allowed to include bassists, but even today, I think there is still a significant gender imbalance across most styles of popular music. Women fronting groups is quite common but visibly performing on guitar, bass, drums and other rock ensemble instruments still has a lot more men and mixed groups like the top notch ones Prince often assembled still seem the exception.
I wonder who would feature in ‘Guitar Heroes of the 2010’s‘ and if that balance has shifted anywhere towards equity?