We all know that Elvis was the king of rock and roll. If we have (or rather had) a king of rock and roll, this begs the question: Who is the Queen of Rock and Roll? Sure, several have asked, but we have never had a definitive answer. Debates have run their course all over the internet, naming everyone from Janis Joplin to Anne & Nancy Wilson. Still, we’ve not yet decided on an answer. It’s time to finally rest this question once and for all. It’s time to crown the true queen of rock and roll.
There’s a number of criteria in crowning a queen of rock and rock and roll. Firstly, they have to be both alive and active. Sorry Janis Joplin fans, but she’s not eligible (I never thought she was that great of a choice anyway). The queen of rock should also be relevant, even today. She doesn’t have to top the charts, but she’s got to put out new music on a regular basis. That rules out any retired musicians (such as Grace Slick). Finally, she has to have enough popularity for the title. Elvis was not a one-hit-wonder, and our new queen must also be well known.
With all that in mind, a few artists come to mind. Let’s explore why or why not they would be a suitable queen of rock and roll.
Anne and/or Nancy Wilson
The first contender is two contenders. The Wilson sisters of Heart have been going strong since the 70s, and while there are rumors the band might retire, they keep putting off said retirement. The Wilson sisters have proven they truly know rock and roll. With such hits as “Barracuda,” “Alone,” “What About Love,” “All I Want to Do Is Make Love to You,” and so many more, the Wilson sisters have had enough hits to show their relevance in rock music. And to multiple generations as well.
If we were to choose between the two sisters, most likely we would have to choose Anne Wilson. She’s been around slightly longer than her sister, and honestly, while both sisters have amazing voices, Anne’s is still the best of the two. Then again, Nancy’s guitar playing is superior to Anne’s, so the choice is not an easy one. I’d be ok nominating both these women as a co-queen.
Blondie frontwoman, Deborah Harry, has been around almost just as long as the Wilson sisters. Throughout her career, she’s recorded hit songs such as “Heart of Glass,” “Call Me,” “One Way or Another,” Maria,” and so many others. Harry and the rest of Blondie have transcended the lines between disco, pop, rock, punk, and even hip-hop.
While Deborah Harry might not be the primary guitarist for Blondie, she’s proven she’s more than just a singer. Harry’s solo work alone is phenomenal and worth a listen. Besides, would Blondie be anything without Deborah Harry? Probably not. At best Blondie would be a one-hit-wonder. Deborah Harry truly is the heart and soul of Blondie. Harry and the rest of the band are still going strong too. Their latest album, Pollinator, is a true work of art.
Fun fact, Rapture was the first song featuring rap vocals to hit #1 on the US Billboard chart.
What can I say about Joan Jett that I haven’t said before? She’s an absolute legend. Starting with the Runaways, and going onto form the Blackhearts, Jett has been soaring through our skies for decades! Joan Jett’s classics include “Bad Reputation,” “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” and of course, “I Love Rock and Roll.”
Joan Jett still rocks. Hard. Her 2013 album, Unvarnished,” probably should have been on my list of the best albums of the 2010s. I had the opportunity to see Jett live a few years back, and even though she’s in her 60s, Jett still knows how to rock.
Stevie Nicks has been around longer than anyone else on this list. Most of her fame comes from Fleetwood Mac. Her songs “Rhiannon,” “Landslide,” and “Dreams” are three of the most iconic songs by FM. Nicks’ contributions to Rumors, both in-studio and out of the studio, made the album one of the most dramatic albums of all time.
Nicks has, of course, done a ton of solo work as well. With hits such as “Edge of Seventeen, “I Can’t Wait,” “Talk to Me,” and “Room’s on Fire,” Nicks has certainly proven she doesn’t need the support of her bandmates. Of course, Nicks still likes to work with other artists. Who can forget “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” with Tom Petty? Nicks has worked with Bob Dylan, Kenny Loggins, Phil Collins, Sheryl Crow, David Grohl, Don Henly, and more. Fun fact – Stevie Nicks has a writing credit (with Beyoncé) on the song Bootylicious.
Every other name on this list has been around since the 1970s, whereas Sleater-Kinney has only been around since the 1990s. Sleater-Kinney isn’t as well known as the other names on this list. Of course, Sleater-Kinney is actually a group of three (well, two as of recent) women – so like the Wilson Sisters, if Sleater-Kinney are the Queen(s) of rock and roll, they would share a crown.
Regardless, Sleater-Kinney is every bit as talented as any other name on this list. The guitars of Carrie Brownstein show a side of rock music I want more of. Vocalist Corin Tucker outshines anyone else on this list (including Nancy Wilson). While Janet Weiss is no longer with the band, she’s one of the top five drummers of all time.
Sleater-Kinney might be a wildcard on this list, but they certainly deserve a chance at the crown.
Enough debate. Who’s the Queen of Rock and Roll?
Choosing one monarch to rule them all is tough. One name I have to eliminate right away though is Sleater-Kinney. Despite their talent and influences in punk rock and Riot Grrrl, they do lack the appeal of mainstream audiences. This shouldn’t matter, however, the public should accept the newly crowned queen and probably won’t accept a band that isn’t wildly popular. The next artist to go is Deborah Harry. While just as influential and just as big as anyone on this list, Harry crosses genres so much, that perhaps she deserves a different crown. The Queen of pop comes to mind. Meanwhile, Anne and Nancy Wilson certainly deserve a shot at the crown. However, they seem to be winding down. They might have a shot at the crown if I were to have written this article ten years ago, but while they are still active right now, we want a queen to be with us for a while.
This leaves two names: Joan Jett and Stevie Nicks. These women are two of the most iconic names in rock and roll. Well, I’ve been hinting all along about a co-queen situation. I mentioned the Wilson Sisters as well as Sleater-Kinney might share a crown together. So, with that said, let’s have ourselves a co-queenship of rock and roll. Joan Jett and Stevie Nicks, by the power invested in me by music knowledge and music journalism, I do humbly crown you both as the Queens of Rock and Roll. I humbly kneel before your majesties. Long live the queens!