The 10 Best Female Rockabilly Singers of All Time

Categories: Top 10

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Sparkle Moore
They're talented, brassy, and bursting with a sexual energy that defied the repressed conservative manner of the '50s. The women of the early era of rockabilly had brains, heart, and the ambition for success, but it's a time-tested truth: it's hard to be a woman in the music business. As you'll read, the careers of many of the early pioneers of rockabilly did not run smoothly, but despite obstacles made giant strides in performing and recording music, making enormous contributions to the genre and inspiring younger generations of performers after them.

While there's many more fine female rockabilly musicians where these came from, here's a look at some of the trailblazers whose music has stood the test of time, as well as the best new musicians rocking the genre today.

10. Lorrie Collins

Half of the teeny-bopper duo The Collins Kids, Lorrie Collins enjoyed a sweet fame singing rockabilly tunes beside her younger brother Larry, who was himself a mean force on a double-necked electric guitar. Lorrie felt confined in her teen idol image, and found a kinship with boyfriend and popular television star, Ricky Nelson. Although her relationship with Nelson was high profile it was very brief, and at age 17 she married Johnny Cash's manager Stu Carnall, who at the time was twice her age. Despite that, she kept up her acting career and even continued performing, both solo and as part of The Collins Kids for some time.

Collins' solo performance here shows how even at a young age, Collins wasn't just a pretty face but a solid musician with the right skills and showmanship.

9. Sparkle Moore

Sparkle Moore's career is best summed up in the few singles released on the Fraternity label in the 1950s, but despite that she's still seen as one of the pioneering female figures of rockabilly music. Born Barbara Morgan, Moore was musical fanatic from an early age, even running away from home at one point to join a band. Just as her name (inspired by comic character Sparkle Plenty) suggests, Moore stood out with her shock of platinum blonde hair, the flashy men's suits she wore, her confident attitude and her charisma. In fact, Moore is probably the early female embodiment of rock n' roll, if not punk rock.

As an exceptional guitarist, she would go on to perform across the country at small rock n' roll shows, and toured with rockabilly great Gene Vincent. Most people would have you believe her career in music ended after she started a family, but she's still rather active in writing and recording music, and posts a lot of her poetry on her website.

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29 comments
abigailkjohnson
abigailkjohnson

No matter which order you put them in, OC Weekly, thank you for putting them on your page(s), as all are very deserving women that need to be heard.  Yes, there are many more gals out there not listed, but at least this gets the word out about the contributions women make to the world of music!

chickwpick
chickwpick

Rosie speaks:Thanks to Dale Watson for giving me a chance to win 2 Ameripolitan Awards last week! There is a wave of appreciation pouring out to me for the years that I've been out here promoting women in Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson, Janis Martin, Marti Brom, to name a few. Thanks for the #2 spot, but I do not feel that I deserve a number 2 spot here, maybe 8 or 9?. I thought I'd explain a little here where I come from to the younger audiences out there who may also disagree with my spot as number 2. I started a rockabilly band in San diego in 1979 called the Reboppin' Screamers and it was so difficult to find players there who understood the genre and the sound, the dress etc... I then moved to LA and started searching out others who were in it and found Levi Dexter and his band the Rockats, Ray Campi, last but not least James Intveld. I found a home at the Palamino club and after being influenced by Gary Stewart the Honky Tonk singer from Kentucky/Florida, I found my voice somewhere between Tanya Tucker and Gene Vincent. I became a Screamin' Siren and played smash up rockabilly guitar for Pleasant Gehman and learned more about the British Rockabilly bands and went out on my own from there landing a deal with WB/Reprise Records out of Nashville. The label told me that rockabilly was the kiss of death on radio (this was just before the Stray Cats broke out) so they tamed me down to a clean country sound but I recorded with Pete Anderson as a producer ( Dwight Yoakam) and James Intveld as well as Greg Leisz and Donald Lindley so my sound was appreciated all around the world and here in the states. I recorded a country Wanda Jackson and Carl Perkins song so I could still pay tribute to my influences without stirring up too much trouble. Before long the label dropped me anyway for being too different even though the James Intveld song "Crying Over You entered the Billboard Charts and gave me a name in Europe and here. The label decided to push kd Lang instead of me and the rest is just rosie history.  I've stayed on the road never giving up my career in music. I've played just about every dancehall and honky tonk, festival, European markets included, ever since. I'm over 60 years old (hush hush cause I don't look it) but I still feel like I'm the 16 year old girl who started Penelope's Children in my parents garage in the late 60's using my brothers gear. So I'm happy to be appreciated because lord knows how long I've been doing this. However with the musical influences that have crossed my life, starting with Jazz, Rockabilly, Motown, Surf, Blues, Pop, Punk, Country and Honky Tonk. I don't want to be put in a bag of one sound...even though I so appreciate the rockabilly category #2 spot, it is just part of who I am and there are other female's out there who are probably more deserving of a higher mark here especially the early pioneer women as well as the newer Marti Brom, Imelda Mae and Kim Lenz. Thanks for following, appreciating and digging my sounds. sincerely,  Rosie Flores

jimbeeeps
jimbeeeps

Imelda May, Rose Maddox, Marti Brom missing from top 10? 3 strikes. OUT!

chalouni.jean-marc
chalouni.jean-marc

Lorrie Collins n° 10 ?? Janis Martin n°3 ??  Rose Maddox  nowhere in sight ....

You just don't know what you're writing about .

georgecamrose
georgecamrose

I'd add Miriam Linna from the Zantees and the A-Bones.

Sandra Luckett
Sandra Luckett

Thats Right..... #1 Wanda Jackson the very first female rockabilly singer.

waynewalker56
waynewalker56

Bullshit!! Who made this list, a druken sailor???

So if there will be a male list who will be the first, Brian Setzer???

You better, read and listen carefuly before be so smartass!!

Red Stewart
Red Stewart

Clint Parker easy Wanda Jackson has always my fav

Dennis Lynch
Dennis Lynch

If Charline Arthur wasn't included, I was going to add her.

gogetter
gogetter

Nope, no way do any of the new singers get ranked in the top ten, much less over Lorrie Collins, particularly Lenz, who is completely derivative and unoriginal. I'd sure put Marti Brom close, though. She was great in Denver.

alanschrack
alanschrack

Really... leaving out Marti Brom?  Sparkle Moore had a few novelty numbers, but she shouldn't be in the top ten. C'mon, do your research.

rocketjnycb
rocketjnycb

Where's Marti Brom?  THE best modern female singer, IMHO.

WhiteLightning
WhiteLightning topcommenter

"Flores is loved so much in Texas, that August 31st is Rosie Flores Day." This is not exactly true, at least not the way it is written.

RonaldMexico
RonaldMexico

Thanks for turning me on to Foxx, didn't even know about her and now I will go check out a show with my baby doll in tow. Here are a few that are not that local and I am fans of.


Here are a few more recents I love:


Lanie Lane

Melody Gardot

Lanna Del Rey



alanschrack
alanschrack

@RonaldMexico  The gals you list are all great in their own genre. But they can't really be considered Rockabilly singers.

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