In 1971, when Carole King released her first solo album, Tapestry, the industry was forever altered. Tapestry would become one of the most commercially and critically successful albums of the decade, holding the number one spot on the Billboard Top 40 for 15 consecutive weeks, and taking home four Grammys. In an era where recognition and appreciation of solo female musicians was relatively new, King — with her self-assuredness and calm persona — was a beacon of women's musical independence. It's the same kind of independence and strength that you'll find within these 23 photos of badass lady rockers from the decade.
As the '70s continued on, a group of passionate and talented female musicians took over the decade's music scene. Joni Mitchell, who has since been considered one of the greatest music writers of her generation, followed in King's shoes with her painstakingly honest album, Blue. Carly Simon entered the scene with her feminist theme, "You're So Vain." And it doesn't stop there. Throughout this decade of political change and social activism, female musicians weren't afraid to use their albums and performances as ways to express themselves. Each and every one of these artists changed the face of the American music industry, and paved the way for other female musicians to be unapologetically talented — but perhaps, even more importantly, unapologetically themselves. Take a look.
Stevie Nicks: Gypsy Goddess
Nicks was known for her on-stage style.
Nicks And Her Tambourine
A woman of many, many talents.
Nicks Singing Her Heart Out
She always sang from her soul.
Joni Mitchell Jamming Out
Mitchell was a boss. On and off stage.
Mitchell Being Casually Gorgeous
Soulful and talented.
Mitchell With Her Acoustic
Always killin' it on the guitar.
Patti Smith Into The Music On Stage
Patti Smith Into The Music On Stage Part II
Doing legendary things.
Janis Joplin's Emotive Stage Face
I can feel her passion.
Joplin Interacting With Her Audience
Yes, yes, I will come up and join you on stage.
Aretha Franklin Being The Queen Of Soul
Doing what she does best.
Franklin Calling People Out
Donna Summer Being A Disco Legend
Feeling the disco.
Pat Benatar In The Writer's Room
Writing "Heartbreaker," probably.
Joan Jett Rocking Out
Joan Jett loves rock 'n' roll.
Carly Simon Thanking Her Fans
They're so vain. They probably think that kiss is about them.
Linda Ronstadt Serenading Her Audience
The woman of my "Simple Dreams."
Karen Carpenter In Her Element
Pop music's darling.
Olivia Newton John Singing One Of Her Many, Many Hits
Sandra Dee. Such a legend.
Carole King Being Adorable
The prolific Carole King, all smiles.
Dolly Parton With Her Banjo
The ever charming, smart, and soulful Dolly.
She's living. In a material world, obviously.
YAS. That is all.
Like their music, these women defied classification, and their badassery should be celebrated for years to come.