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Gillian G. Gaar’s critically acclaimed, breakthrough book, the first full history of women in rock and pop ever written, became an instant classic upon its publication in 1992. Arranged chronologically and told with impassioned detail, She’s A Rebel charts a half century of women performers from the early R and B singers of the 1950s, to the girl groups, Motown acts, folks Gillian G. Gaar’s critically acclaimed, breakthrough book, the first full history of women in rock and pop ever written, became an instant classic upon its publication in 1992. Arranged chronologically and told with impassioned detail, She’s A Rebel charts a half century of women performers from the early R and B singers of the 1950s, to the girl groups, Motown acts, folksingers, and rock chicks of the 1960s, to the punk rebels and pop divas of the 1970s, to the brash all-girl bands, rappers, and riot grrls of the 1980s and 1990s. This expanded ten-year anniversary edition features over 75 photos and includes three all-new chapters on all the major artists of the last decade as well as an insider’s look at the music industry and the emerging power of women rock stars. With new preface by Yoko Ono and dozens of new profiles and interviews with performers—such as Courtney Love, L7, Bikini Kill, the Breeders, Sarah McLachlan, Ani di Franco, Sheryl Crow, Sleater Kinney, Alanis Morrisette, Lucinda Williams, Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, Lauryn Hill, Christina Aguilera, Nelly Furtado, Bjork, and many others— this book captures the amazing explosion of women’s voices and talent in the music world. “[She’s A Rebel] is as thoroughly entertaining as it is researched ... It’s exhaustive and exhilarating.”—Billboard


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Gillian G. Gaar’s critically acclaimed, breakthrough book, the first full history of women in rock and pop ever written, became an instant classic upon its publication in 1992. Arranged chronologically and told with impassioned detail, She’s A Rebel charts a half century of women performers from the early R and B singers of the 1950s, to the girl groups, Motown acts, folks Gillian G. Gaar’s critically acclaimed, breakthrough book, the first full history of women in rock and pop ever written, became an instant classic upon its publication in 1992. Arranged chronologically and told with impassioned detail, She’s A Rebel charts a half century of women performers from the early R and B singers of the 1950s, to the girl groups, Motown acts, folksingers, and rock chicks of the 1960s, to the punk rebels and pop divas of the 1970s, to the brash all-girl bands, rappers, and riot grrls of the 1980s and 1990s. This expanded ten-year anniversary edition features over 75 photos and includes three all-new chapters on all the major artists of the last decade as well as an insider’s look at the music industry and the emerging power of women rock stars. With new preface by Yoko Ono and dozens of new profiles and interviews with performers—such as Courtney Love, L7, Bikini Kill, the Breeders, Sarah McLachlan, Ani di Franco, Sheryl Crow, Sleater Kinney, Alanis Morrisette, Lucinda Williams, Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, Lauryn Hill, Christina Aguilera, Nelly Furtado, Bjork, and many others— this book captures the amazing explosion of women’s voices and talent in the music world. “[She’s A Rebel] is as thoroughly entertaining as it is researched ... It’s exhaustive and exhilarating.”—Billboard

30 review for She's A Rebel: The History of Women in Rock & Roll

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    I'm not sure what I expected of this book but was disappointed. I thought that the author would spend much more time on the first girl groups/solo singers that broke into the Top 40 from the R&B rankings which were unfortunately called "race records". Black groups and solo acts were limited to black audiences and their songs were "covered" by white singers (and were really terrible). But the genius of the these talented ladies eventually captured white teens and rock and roll music finally came I'm not sure what I expected of this book but was disappointed. I thought that the author would spend much more time on the first girl groups/solo singers that broke into the Top 40 from the R&B rankings which were unfortunately called "race records". Black groups and solo acts were limited to black audiences and their songs were "covered" by white singers (and were really terrible). But the genius of the these talented ladies eventually captured white teens and rock and roll music finally came into its own. But the author chose to give those pioneers rather short shrift and concentrated on some pretty obscure vocalists, mostly from England, who presented a new kind of music but were not very commercial (and in some cases, not very talented). The content was sometimes disconnected, jumping around and generally pretty dry. Not one of my favorite reads

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Any book that gives a shout out to Poison Ivy Rorschach gets 4 stars. She's the reason I picked up a guitar. I got to tell her that once too after a show. Cool.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lisa LaCarrubba

    My one complaint is that I checked She's a Rebel out of the library and I wish I had bought it to use as a reference. As the History of Women in Rock makes clear, the history if women's contribution to the genre is the history of rock music itself. The book is informative for anyone interested in the rock music but also insightful into the female perspective. Garr includes all the major female stars and influencers as well as minor stars, lesser known performers and a large number of women who wo My one complaint is that I checked She's a Rebel out of the library and I wish I had bought it to use as a reference. As the History of Women in Rock makes clear, the history if women's contribution to the genre is the history of rock music itself. The book is informative for anyone interested in the rock music but also insightful into the female perspective. Garr includes all the major female stars and influencers as well as minor stars, lesser known performers and a large number of women who work behinds the scenes. The book includes quotes, historical facts and places all in the context of the social issues of the time. A must read to grasp the full history of rock through 1992. Ms. Garr, if you are reading this, please write an update from the early nineties to the present.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Zaleski

    Dry, dry, dry... reads like an encyclopedia of names and dates. Tries to do too much within its space limitations. And automatically gets at least one star taken off for not mentioning Pink, one of the foremost voices in the past twenty years for strong women taking control of their lives (In 2009, Billboard magazine named Pink the #1 pop musician of the decade,and in 2012 VH1 named Pink #10 on their list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music), while giving up to four pages to artists such as Laura Dry, dry, dry... reads like an encyclopedia of names and dates. Tries to do too much within its space limitations. And automatically gets at least one star taken off for not mentioning Pink, one of the foremost voices in the past twenty years for strong women taking control of their lives (In 2009, Billboard magazine named Pink the #1 pop musician of the decade,and in 2012 VH1 named Pink #10 on their list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music), while giving up to four pages to artists such as Laura Love (?). Take note, Gillian Gaar... "pop musician of the decade", not "female pop musician of the decade..."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alicia Snyder

    mom bought me this as a teenager. it made me immesaurably happy, and i dreamed that one day, as she had written in the preface, that i would be in the sequel edition!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I really really dig women that make rock music. I'm particularly fascinated by the earlier years, especially the late 50s/60s girl group stuff (though, yes, they were just tools of good producers and awesome songwriters [some of them actually women] for the most part, but man, some of them chicks had real talent). I was hoping this would be a little more inspirational or at least informative than it was. This was just really general, though it did provide an interesting reference or tidbit or tw I really really dig women that make rock music. I'm particularly fascinated by the earlier years, especially the late 50s/60s girl group stuff (though, yes, they were just tools of good producers and awesome songwriters [some of them actually women] for the most part, but man, some of them chicks had real talent). I was hoping this would be a little more inspirational or at least informative than it was. This was just really general, though it did provide an interesting reference or tidbit or two to follow up on. This book (the revised edition at least) definitely tries to give due to the explosion of women making music in the 90s (and where the hell has it gone today, I ask you?), but crap, if anything deserves a expansive treatise, it's that subject. As a survey, the book does a sufficient job in covering the basics. Damn, if it would only springboard some more in-depth books on the subject I'd be ecstatic.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gerry LaFemina

    Although the book often gets redundant: the stories get similar afterwhile (that said, the role of women in rock music AND in American society hasn't changed significantly), there's a lot to be said for its sheer comprehensive nature. Starting with the founding mothers of rock n roll, and reaching to well past riot grrl, this book looks at most of the female names in rock, pop, r&b, and hip hop. Better still, Gaar also chronicles the role of female critics, producers, promoters, and more, remind Although the book often gets redundant: the stories get similar afterwhile (that said, the role of women in rock music AND in American society hasn't changed significantly), there's a lot to be said for its sheer comprehensive nature. Starting with the founding mothers of rock n roll, and reaching to well past riot grrl, this book looks at most of the female names in rock, pop, r&b, and hip hop. Better still, Gaar also chronicles the role of female critics, producers, promoters, and more, reminding us that the life of rock music incorporates more than just musicians.

  8. 5 out of 5

    George

    pretty good. fairly standard, dry history of women in rock. Looses points from me for not mentioning Carol Kaye the amazing session bass player from LA who is on almost every single recording made in the 60's. she also was a hugely influential teacher of bass with hundreds of books about how to play bass. I can understand overlooking lots of different folks in the 80's and 90's when there were more women in rock, but to miss someone behind the scenes in the early days seems a mistake. I wonder i pretty good. fairly standard, dry history of women in rock. Looses points from me for not mentioning Carol Kaye the amazing session bass player from LA who is on almost every single recording made in the 60's. she also was a hugely influential teacher of bass with hundreds of books about how to play bass. I can understand overlooking lots of different folks in the 80's and 90's when there were more women in rock, but to miss someone behind the scenes in the early days seems a mistake. I wonder if the later edition corrects this.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Annalisa

    I think there are a lot of important musicians in this book, and I did learn a few things about them, but it's a dry read and I found myself skipping around to the women I wanted to learn about, rather than reading it straight through. When the author got to the Spice Girls, I put the book away and returned it to the library. Girls to the Front, Hunger Makes Me a A Modern Girl, Rat Girl, are all WAY better reads. Check them out if you haven't.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    Read for a paper (on "the archetype of the 'bad girl' in pop music"), along with Reynolds/Press _The Sex Revolts_ and a lot of Bikini Kill and Reverend Horton Heat lyric sheets. I remember it being not as rigorous or thorough as I wanted - maybe I couldn't find some obscure all-female Swedish grind band? - but ten years on, it's still one of the only credible "women in rock" books on the shelves.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    There is a great book waiting to be written about women in pop music. This is not that book. It's certainly an informative read but is miles away from being entertaining in any way. She covered the rock & roll in great depth but left out the sex and drugs. And let's face it isn't that what everyone looks for in a book about pop music? There is a great book waiting to be written about women in pop music. This is not that book. It's certainly an informative read but is miles away from being entertaining in any way. She covered the rock & roll in great depth but left out the sex and drugs. And let's face it isn't that what everyone looks for in a book about pop music?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Awesome book! Gaar presents a pretty comprehensive and entertaining history of women in rock and roll. I loved that she not only focused on women artists, but equally focused on the history of women in rock and roll production (engineers, journalists, producers).

  13. 4 out of 5

    Todd Souvignier

    great book, vast scope, and excellent taste in subjects. not enough material about THE SHANGRI-LAS, but double extra style points for referencing "The Boy Looked At Johnny" (Burchill and Parsons).

  14. 5 out of 5

    AP

    Scholarly and definitive book on women in rock music from 1950s-2000. More appropriate as a textbook for a college course.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kae

    Great book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lydia

    A little dry in parts, but over all a good reference.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Teacherhuman

    Most Excellent -- but I confess I liked Simon Reynolds' book better -- The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion and Rock 'n' Roll

  18. 5 out of 5

    Axl Peralta

    It is the best encyclopedia for lovers of rock music and to discover groups that never knew existed but are worth knowing

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amethyst

    Well, I haven't re-read it lately but I'm looking at it on my bookshelf and I remember thinking it was really a great book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    had to pick and choose who to read about. I think only about a 1/4 of it was ladies I care about.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    Yet another book used for my unfinished Master's Thesis. A comprehensive guide to the history of women in the Rock and Roll world. Covers motown, teen idols, to punk. Pretty awesome read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    i've learnt that women's are truly rocking as well. he he he!!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    My favorite artists/singers tend to be female or female presenting so I was delighted to see this book on my friend's bookshelf and promptly asked if I could borrow it. This is a well researched book on titular topic. However, at some points I felt like I was reading a "college textbook". I was able to make a list of artists to check out. The edition I read was published in 1992 so it only goes up to that point.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tabi

    I learned quite a bit from this book, and was able to find some new (old) artists I wasn't aware of before. Not only chronicling women singers/bands in rock, this extensive history also tells the behind-the-scenes accounts of producers, sound engineers, label owners...this is a fascinating account all around. Well worth the read for music or history buffs.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cliff

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bob

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tanzia

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Kendrick

  30. 4 out of 5

    Big Al

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