Though it should've been implemented since at least Janis Joplin's first solo record (1969), for whatever reasons, Best Female Rock Vocal Performance didn't make the cut as an official Grammy category until 1980. And though solo female artists continue to release great rock records every year, The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) stopped with the category after 2004.
The Best Female Rock category featured some of the most interesting diversity of nominees from Lucinda Williams to Alison Moyet to Tina Turner to P.J. Harvey to Ani DiFranco to Donna Summer to Lita Ford. These ladies ROCKED, forging powerful, musical statements, and often left their male counterparts looking stale by comparison.
According to NARAS, it was eliminated due to "a lack of eligible recordings in the female rock category."
One look at 2012, and you'll find plenty of Grammy worthy rocking new music by solo female artists including former winners in the category, Melissa Etheridge, Pink, and Alanis Morissette. Bat For Lashes, Me'Shell Ndegeocello, and Cat Power stretched the boundaries of female driven rock with their respective albums this year. Bluesy rock veterans, Bettye Lavette, and Bonnie Raitt scored with fiery new records as did punk pioneer, Patti Smith, and first lady of rockabilly, Wanda Jackson (who recorded WITH Elvis Presley). If that's not a bumper crop, I don't know what is. One thing it isn't is "a lack of eligible recordings in the female rock category."
Since 2005 (as well as in 1988, 1992, and 1994) the Rock Female Vocal category was combined with Rock Male Vocal, and presented as the genderless, and blander, Rock Vocal Performance. And since 2009, there has not been ONE female nominated in the Rock Vocal Performance category.
Bands fronted by women (Blondie, Heart, Garbage, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, etc) are not eligible in the Best Female Rock Vocal category - only solo female acts.
While an official confirmation of the category's retirement was never announced by NARAS, we pray for its return as rock women have NEVER gone away nor are they vanishing anytime soon.
Here's a look back at the winners in the Grammy category of Best Female Rock Vocal Performance...
1980: Donna Summer "Hot Stuff"
noteworthy nominee: Rickie Lee Jones "Last Chance Texaco"
1981: Pat Benatar Crimes of Passion (album)
noteworthy nominee: Marianne Faithfull "Broken English"
1982: Pat Benatar "Fire & Ice"
noteworthy nominee: Stevie Nicks "Edge of Seventeen"
1983: Pat Benatar "Shadows Of The Night"
noteworthy nominee: Kim Carnes "Voyeur"
1984: Pat Benatar "Love Is A Battlefield"
noteworthy nominee: Stevie Nicks "Stand Back"
1985: Tina Turner "Better Be Good To Me"
noteworthy nominee: Wendy O Williams W.O.W. (album)
1986: Tina Turner "One Of The Living"
noteworthy nominee: Pat Benatar "Invincible"
1987: Tina Turner "Back Where You Started"
noteworthy nominee: Stevie Nicks "Talk To Me"
1989: Tina Turner Live In Europe (album)
noteworthy nominee: Sinead O Connor The Lion & The Cobra (album)
1990: Bonnie Raitt Nick of Time (album)
noteworthy nominee: Cyndi Lauper "I Drove All Night"
1991: Alannah Myles "Black Velvet"
noteworthy nominee: Tina Turner "Steamy Windows"
1993: Melissa Etheridge "Ain't It Heavy"
noteworthy nominee: Alison Moyet "It Won't Be Long"
1995: Melissa Etheridge "Come To My Window"
noteworthy nominee: Liz Phair "Supernova"
1996: Alanis Morissette "You Oughta Know"
noteworthy nominee: PJ Harvey "Down By The Water"
1997: Sheryl Crow "If It Makes You Happy"
noteworthy nominee: Tracy Chapman "Give Me One Reason"
1998: Fiona Apple "Criminal"
noteworthy nominee: Abra Moore "Four Leaf Clover"
1999: Alanis Morissette "Uninvited"
noteworthy nominee: Tori Amos "Raspberry Swirl"
2000: Sheryl Crow "Sweet Child O'Mine"
noteworthy nominee: Sarah McLachlan "Possession"
2001: Sheryl Crow "There Goes The Neighborhood"
noteworthy nominee: Patti Smith "Glitter In Their Eyes"
2002: Lucinda Williams "Get Right With God"
noteworthy nominee: Stevie Nicks "Planets Of The Universe"
2003: Sheryl Crow "Steve McQueen"
noteworthy nominee: Avril Lavigne "Sk8er Boi"
FINAL YEAR OF THE CATEGORY THUS FAR:
2004: Pink "Trouble"
noteworthy nominee: Lucinda Williams "Righteously"
The 2013 Grammy Awards air Sunday, February 10th on CBS. 8pm/7central.