Too many people consider rock music to be a boy's club. Many of the most popular bands predominantly comprise the male kind of human, but there are hundreds upon hundreds of incredible lady rock musicians. Here's a brief celebration of those women who have taken it upon themselves to master the guitar's bigger, boomier cousin: the electric bass. These ladies can hammer out the low end with the best of them. To boot, they've all contributed to bands that made huge waves in their respective genres, often redefining what it meant to make rock music at the time of their peak involvement with the scene.
You don't play first for Hole, then the Smashing Pumpkins, and then your own awesome self-named rock band without some serious chops. Melissa Auf der Maur and her impressively German-sounding name puts on quite the live show. I caught her and her band alongside Muse at Curiosa festival a few years back and promptly procured her record Auf der Maur the next day.
As one third of the indie punk act The Thermals, Foster also has to maintain one third of their stage presence. In addition to holding down the bass lines, she does a damn good job keeping her band's infectious energy up throughout an entire set.
When you're hearing the enormous and writhing low end on Loveless, you're listening to the work of Debbie Googe. It's no small deal to have played on one of the most influential records of the early '90s--the pivotal record of the shoegaze movement that would influence hundreds of bands to come.
Kim Deal is so awesome that the Dandy Warhols wrote an entire song celebrating her awesomeness called "Cool As Kim Deal". She didn't even play bass when Frank Black met up with her to form what would become one of the most influential rock bands ever. She just liked the same music as him and agreed to take a bus to her sister's place to pick up an old bass they had lying around and start to learn to play it. Frank Black has to lend her the money for the bus. Ms. Deal shimmied up that learning curve and was soon writing some of Pixies's catchiest songs. The band she formed with her sister, The Breeders, had some great hits as well.
Lady bassists named Kim who play Gibson EB-3s are my favorite. Kim Gordon is half of the creative whirlwind behind No Wave extraordinaires Sonic Youth. She's also an artist, producer, director, actress, and Jill of all trades. There are very few worthwhile artistic feats that Kim Gordon cannot do.
The Talking Heads' funky grooves are powered by Tina Weymouth's robust bass chops. She is a total pro, pounding out solid rhythms and tossing in complex flourishes. Her playful style complements David Byrne's vocal freakouts perfectly. If you love modern rock and you don't tap a foot when "Take Me To the River"'s groovy bassline creeps in, you're not doing it right.