1980s heavy metal bands with female singers

Written by nancy hayden
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1980s heavy metal bands with female singers
Women in the heavy metal scene began to make their mark in the '80s. (heavy-metal image by Valua Vitaly from Fotolia.com)

During the 1980s, the music genre of heavy metal began producing some of its biggest names, among them the likes of Metallica, Megadeth and Motley Crue. Many of these chart-topping bands were predominantly all male or male-fronted groups. During this decade, women -- both lead vocalists and all-female metal bands -- also began to make a name for themselves in the metal genre.

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Girlschool is an English metal band that began touring in 1978. The original line-up for the band was Enid Williams, Kim McAuliffe, Deidre Cartright, Denise Dufort, Kelly Johnson and Kathy Valentine. The band released its first single in December of that same year, and by 1979 were signed to Bronze Records. During the 1980s, the band released eight albums, numerous singles and toured worldwide with the likes of Motorhead and Black Sabbath. The band has continued to tour and produce music, with the occasional member taking time off and being replaced. Girlschool's most recent album, as of 2011, was released in 2008 and featured collaborations with other iconic metal stars, such as Ronnie James Dio and Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead.


Guitarist Jan Kuehnemund started the heavy metal band Vixen in 1980 while she was still in high school. The next member to join was singer Janet Gardner, who Jan had heard in a club in California while touring. By 1984, three more members had joined: Tamara Ivanov, Pia Maiocco and Laurie Hedlund. This line-up scored a movie role in the film "Hard Bodies" as a band called Diaper Rash. In the years that followed, line-up changes saw the three most recent members leave the group. With two new members the final line-up became Kuehnemund, Gardner, Share Pederson and Roxy Petrucci. With this line-up the band continued to tour, eventually receiving a record deal in 1988 with EMI and releasing its debut album "Vixen."


Female vocalist Doro Pesch sang for the band Warlock, which was formed in 1982 in Dusseldorf, Germany. The other original band members included Frank Rittel, Rudy Graf, Michael Eurich and Peter Szigeti. During the early '80s, the band toured around Germany, building a reputation before signing a record deal in 1984 with the independent label Mausoleum. The band released four albums during the '80s and toured alongside bands such as Megadeth in both Europe and the United States. By the end of the decade the original male members of the band had left and had been replaced, leaving just Pesch. For legal reasons, Pesch and the new band line-up, lost the rights to the Warlock name and parformed under the name Doro.


In the early days of the band, Hellion singer Ann Boleyn was the keyboard player, but within a year she proved her worth as a vocalist. The band started out in California in 1982 with the original line-up of Boleyn, Ray Schenk, Eiler Savage and Peyton Tuthill. The '80s were a tough time for the band with internal disputes, line-up changes and struggles to make the band a success. By the time the group produced its first mini-album titled "Hellion," in '83, only Boleyn and Schenk remained from the original line-up. The '80s saw just a few singles and two albums come from the group.

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