Queens of Punk

Queens of Punk

To celebrate a new documentary ‘Punk’ we take a look at the genres leading ladies.

To celebrate a new documentary ‘Punk’ we take a look at the genres leading ladies.

Text: Paul Madley

Punk is arguably one of the most defining youth movements of the 20th century, it birthed new music, new fashions, new attitudes and the creative talents of punk designers, Vivienne Westwood, Pam Hogg, and Sue Blane.

Punk has been reincarnated into many forms with Britain and America at the forefront, each country created many subgenres, punk means different things to different people.

A new four-hour documentary series chronicles the origin of punk and explore its cultural impact. The documentary features band members from, Sex Pistols, Black Flag, Ramones, Guns ‘n’ Roses and was produced by OG punk icon, Iggy Pop.

But what about the women of punk? Female fronted bands like The Slits, L7, and Babes in Toyland.

We take a look at the punk women whose unique music and style shaped the movement and the image of punk.

Joan Jett

Joan Jett started her career at just 17 years old with the glam rock band, The Runaways. The band achieved overnight success before founding member Cherie Currie left the group. Joan went onto to pursue a stellar solo career and is regarded as one of the founding ladies of punk rock.

Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders)

The American born musician worked in London at Vivienne Westwood’s ‘SEX’ shop before finding success with her band The Pretenders. Hynde was a part of the London punk movement which had a huge influence on her personal style.

Patti Smith

A prominent member of the New York punk scene, Smith’s debut album ‘Horses’ was a huge hit. Smith has been referred to as the "punk poet laureate”.

Debbie Harry (Blondie)

Blondie’s most successful hits were a fusion of calypso, pop and rap music but Debbie Harry came of age in 70’s New York and was apart of the American punk movement. Before forming Blondie, Harry was in a string of punk bands and her cool-girl aesthetic has solidified her as a punk icon.

Siouxsie Sioux (Siouxsie and the Banshees)

Siouxsie Sioux friend of the Sex Pistols found major commercial success with her band, Siouxsie and the Banshees. Sioux’s punk goth style gave her a unique image and created a strong identity for her band.

Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill)

The front women of Bikini Kill, Kathleen Hanna gave young girls and queer youth a voice. The band was a reincarnation of punk and created what was to become the ‘riot grrrl’ movement. Hanna’s live shows challenged gender politics and binary stereotypes.

Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth)

Kim Gordon found fame as a member of 90’s punk rock band Sonic Youth. The bassist, guitarist, and vocalist has been regarded for her effortless sense of style and even launched a clothing line, X-Girl back in 2003. The X-Girl clothing line featured campaigns fronted by Chloë Sevigny and Sofia Coppola.

Courtney Love (Hole)

Before her glam’ Oscar ready makeover, the first lady of grunge Courtney Love pioneered her own style movement, ‘kinderwhore’. The look consisted of babydoll dresses, knee socks, plastic tiaras, peter pan collars, mary janes. It was considered a feminist statement, subverting the male gaze, a middle finger up to the objectification of women...very punk.

Beth Ditto (Gossip)

Beth Ditto found success with her band Gossip. The band's first two albums had a very clear punk sound, the band toured with Sleater-Kinney and were signed to indie label Kill Rock Stars. Gossip even headlined Glastonbury Festival in 2007. Ditto’s pro-queer politics and punk aesthetic have made her a modern-day icon.

Kim and Cindy (the B-52’s)

Although the B-52’s are regarded as new wave band a lot of their tracks were punk/rock inspired. Kim and Cindy’s aesthetic was very DIY with looks pulled from thrift stores. Stand out vocals on tracks like ‘Dirty Back Road, Give Me Back My Man’ sound very post-punk-pop.

UP NEXT

Photographer To Follow: @taliacollis