These Boots are Made for Rockin’

Along with jumpsuits, hand-written music, Bob Mackie gowns, and electric guitars, several pairs of boots that belonged to women of rock and roll are stomping toward the National Museum of Women in the Arts. They are among over 250 artifacts that will be on display as part of the upcoming exhibition Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power, organized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.  Each pair of boots is evidence of the rocker’s style, and in some cases, daring. Whether they are Bonnie Raitt’s classic cowboy boots or Stevie Nick’s infamous platform knee-highs, these shoes show the rockers’ style and spirit.

Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, boots, n.d.; Gift of Michelle Phillips; Photo courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, boots, n.d.; Gift of Michelle Phillips; Photo courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Among other iconic footwear, Women Who Rock will include:

  • Classic, beat-up brown cowboy boots that belonged to Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, whose hit, “California Dreamin,’” closed the first-ever rock festival in Monterey, California, during the 1967 “Summer of Love.”
  • The knee-high sparkly silver boots of Cherie Currie of The Runaways, who joined the punk-rock band at age 15. If “California Dreamin’” represented a dystopic, peace- and love-centric worldview, The Runaways’ “California Paradise” showed a later generation’s rebellion against that style. Currie sang lead vocals alongside rock icon Joan Jett, whose possessions will also be displayed in Women Who Rock.
  • A pair of boots that has been wore so many times by the “Godmother of Punk,” Patti Smith that the shoes’ soles are peeling away. Inspired to write from an early age by French poet Arthur Rimbaud, Smith created a fusion of rock and poetry that made her stand out as a leader in punk rock. With beat-up black high-tops and an artistic mindset, Smith shattered any expectations that people held for female rock artists.
  • Six-inch platform boots that epitomize the ethereal yet grounded style of their source, rocker Stevie Nicks. Nicks began her career at about the same time as The Runaways, in the ’70s and ’80s, but has continued to make music into the present, garnering eight Grammy nominations.
  • Shiny black cowboy boots embellished with gold, which belonged to country/blues legend Bonnie Raitt. Celebrated for her slide guitar technique, the singer/songwriter began recording music in 1971. She has since released hit songs like, “Something to Talk About,” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” and has earned nine Grammy Awards.
Patti Smith, boots, c. 1974; Gift of Beverly Smith; Photo courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Patti Smith, boots, c. 1974; Gift of Beverly Smith; Photo courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

From September 7, 2012, to January 6, 2013, Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power will showcase rock’s leading ladies, right down to the shoes on their feet. This is show you don’t want to miss, so grab a pair of boots and get ready to rock out at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

—Kristie Landing is the publications and communications intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

2 thoughts on “These Boots are Made for Rockin’

  1. I saw Patti Smith, who preceded Donovan, at a concert in 1967 at the DAR Constitution Hall. Patti said some cool things– some of which made the audience gasp. way to go, Patti!!!

  2. There is no mention here of Laura Nyro– who also played DAR in 1968 and 1972. I first heard her in 1967 and would bug the local DJ’s to play her songs. I met her twice. Twice was not enough. I loved her music, and was very happy when she FINALLY made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Feb 2012.. She was from the Bronx, like me — her music was hauntingly beautiful and evoked the heart and soul of New York City. Gone too soon.God rest her soul.

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