Question: Who is the first all female band to have a Top 40 song? Answer: Fanny, in 1971 with Charity Ball. This quartet wrote their own songs as well as played all of their own instruments at a time when most women were still regarded as singers only or front women for male bands or voices for studio musicians. They got mad love from David Bowie. They were talented, rocked it hard and were hot. Sadly you probably have never heard of them.
Charity Ball, was a mid-temp rock shuffle released from the 2nd LP of the same name, hit #40 in November of 1971, peaking for one week and getting leapfrogged by crap like Peter Nero’s version of theme from the Summer of 42 and David Cassidy’s limp version of Cherish. Formed by the Millington sisters, June (guitar) & Jean (bass) with keyboardist Nicky Barclay and drummer Alice De Buhr and produced by Richard Perry, this band should have way more popular and far more recognized than they are rather than shrugged off as a novelty act. What they did over 5 albums, was lay out a blueprint and build the confidence up many young women, be it the Runaways, the Go-Gos, Tiny Weymouth of the Talking Heads or Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders.
I also have to mention mid-60’s bands, Goldie & the Gingerbreads, whose singer Genya Ravan went on to front
Ten Years After Ten Wheel Drive and lead a rock star life throughout her career while the other formed the first all female horn rock band, Isis, and The Pleasure Seekers, who were a Detroit female rock band fronted by Suzi Quatro. Her sister, Patti joined Fanny for a year in 1974. Check both bands out as well as Fanny. All 3 paid heavy dues and carved large paths for future female performers to walk on.
Fun little aside: The photo of the band on the cover of Fanny’s Charity Ball LP was taken by Edger Bergen’s daughter, Candace, better known to others as Murphy Brown.