This week I want to talk about girls that shred on the guitar. For those who are unfamiliar with the term “shred” as it relates to music:
Shred – verb
to play a very fast, intricate style of rock lead guitar.
So, I’ve put together a wee list of women guitarists who come to mind that have been on my radar throughout the years for you to check out and have your face MEEELLLLTTTEDDD by.
Fig 1. You. After You’ve Listened to these Girls that Shred.
1) Jennifer Batten
Okay this is O.G. (that’s “original” for those who aren’t gangsta) guitar hero for me. Those of you reading who know me personally will be well aware I am a
big huge MASSIVE Michael Jackson fan. I grew up on Michael Jackson’s music. I absolutely loved watching his live concerts when they played on TV and my mind was BLOWN by this unicorn-bondage-amazonian woman, Jennifer Batten, who fucking SLAYED on the guitar as part of his band. Jennifer played with MJ on all 3 of his world tours.
Image: And her look was incredible.
Looking back now I think, as a child, I may not have even realised she was a woman due to all the gears she wore at times and not to mention everyone else in the band being a dude so: child-like assumptions. But later on in life I did realise, and it became a fixation for me for a while to work towards eventually playing guitar for Michael Jackson when I “grew up” (still waiting for that to happen).
Anyway, Jennifer has had an illustrious, amazing career as a girl that shreds, including 3 studio albums of her own which you will really love if you’re in to music where vocal melodies are replaced entirely with guitar solos. Her early offerings were Above, Below and Beyond (1992), Jennifer Battens Tribal Rage: Momentum (1997). Then you’ve got her most recent release: Whatever (2007), which is an out-of-this-world experimentation of guitar solos mixed in with samples and covers (which I bet Michael Jackson would’ve loved the shit out of).
Okay if it’s not entirely apparent from the video still, Orianthi was also a guitarist for Michael Jackson. I thought it was awesome that Michael Jackson searched for new female blood to take the place of Jennifer for his cut-short This Is It tour, and I was quite obsessed with her and her talent after seeing the movie. Orianthi is from Australia and started playing music she was just 3 years old with piano, and moved to the guitar at age 6.
She has been playing in bands since the age of 14 and performed in her first stage show for fuckin’ Steve Vai at the age of 15! Orianthi met and jammed with Carlos Santana when she was 18! Can’t deal. This girl has incredible talent.
Image: Alice Cooper thinks she’s alright, too.
Orianthi, like Jennifer, also has 3 studio albums, but she is also a pretty solid vocalist and writes her own songs. Check ’em out: Violet Journey (2007), Believe (2009), and Heaven in this Hell (2013)
3) LITA FORD
Can we all just take a moment for this short 80s-dream of a clip? In the 70s, Lita Ford was the lead guitarist of the most successful all-girl band of all time; The Runaways. In the 80s she embarked on her solo career which is the deliciousness above. Lita started playing guitar at age 11, and at 16 she was recruited in to the Runaways who released their debut album 1 year later. Fuck I wish I had an album under my belt at 17.
Lita is featured extensively in the 2005 documentary film Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways, in which she spoke candidly about her time in the all-girl band. Among other things, she alludes to verbal and sexual abuse endured by the band members at the hands of their (male) manager, Kim Fowley. Fucker. I’m glad she called him out.
Image: Note to self – get name inlayed in to guitar neck so people know i mean bizniz.
In the late 80s she signed a management deal with none other than Sharon Osbourne, and released her most successful album to date, Lita. She has released 9 albums in total (!!!) – including Time Capsule which apparently is coming out this year.
4) Sophia Di
I want to get a little bit indie now; as a lot of the true, insane fucking shredders on guitar are quite often what is commonly referred to as “bedroom shredders.” This is most likely because these guitarists are so fucking talented, all they do is sit and play guitar in their rooms (or home studios) and practice the shit out of their instruments and film it for the world to enjoy (gawk at) on the internet.
Sophia Di is amazing. I have no idea where she is or what she is doing now, but I knew her briefly years ago in the Christchurch (yes, local!) metal scene. She played lead guitar in the Rockquest-winning youth metal band, Beneath the Silence, and fucking killed it.
Image: Sophia being one of the coolest 15 year olds on the block
She went on to play in another band called The Omega Chronicles, which the solo in the video above is from. Sophia if you’re out there somewhere I hope you’re still shredding.
Side note – just had to have a laugh at this comment on the video:
“nice mastery at such a young age. see that? i didn’t say “because you’re a girl”. that’s irrelevant.”
Why did you still have to bring it up, then? He wants da gold starrrrs.
5) Juliette Valduriez
One more bedroom shredder for you: Juliette Valduriez. I followed Juliette’s classic punk and rock covers on youtube for years after Gibson Guitar posted the above video of her covering Ozzy Osbourne’s Bark at the Moon on their Facebook page which went viral (for the times).
I’m not just impressed with Juliette’s skills; part of it is also how she just plays it like she doesn’t even know she’s playing it. Like in her head she’s just eating a sandwich, or reading a lovely book, or daydreaming out a window, but her hands are just shredding all by themselves.
About 4 years ago the videos stopped coming, which sucks. I just visited her Facebook Page to see she hasn’t posted there for years either and there are just a bunch of bewildered fans concerned for her safety…
That got dark quick. Well I hope she is just on a hiatus while she is creating a killer album and will emerge glorious when it’s ready to melt all of our faces w-w-w-w-worldwide.
So, those are a few female shredders I’ve come across in my journey of hurtling through the universe on this rock called earth.
Please send me links in the comments to girls that shred that you are in to! I don’t know enough of them!
PS when I was a student and had a lot more time on my hands I started getting in to more technical guitar work. Since then I’ve become even more lazy and pared Decades songs mostly down to single string simple riffs. Hence my admiration for female shredders!
Check out 19 year old me in my messy room with a shitty laptop mic: