15 Essential Women Punk Icons

Rolling Stone readers polls are the worst. Remember their “Top Ten Live Acts of All Time,” which was so terrible the entire Flavorpill staff came together to post an alternate list? Well, the aging rock magazine has done it again: Last week brought “Readers Poll: The Best Punk Bands of All Time.” And guess what? Not only did Green Day — Green Day! — take the #1 spot, but there wasn’t a single woman on the list. So, in an attempt to correct this latest grievous error, we have compiled a list of 15 essential women punk icons. Let’s be clear: These are hardly the only noteworthy women in punk. They’re simply the ones we think have absolutely earned a spot in any discussion of the best punk bands of all time.

Patti Smith

Her music might not sound much like what the Sex Pistols or Ramones were doing, but Patti Smith was one of New York’s first punks, her music fusing rock and poetry in a way that helped usher in a revolution. The statement that opens her classic debut album, 1975’s Horses — “Jesus died for someone’s sins, but not mine” — is as fitting a punk slogan as any. And back in ’79, on a show called Kids Are People Too, she defined the punk movement: “Rock ‘n roll is getting back in the hands of the people. It belongs to the kids again, not the big business guys.” Sounds about right to us. Smith remains a vital force in both music and literature, performing often and publishing a memoir that won her a National Book Award.