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In the Spotlight: Linda Ronstadt

By

In the Spotlight: Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt

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Born:

Linda Susan Marie Ronstadt, July 15, 1946, Tucson, AZ

Genres:

Instruments:

Vocals

Claims to fame:

  • The biggest female rock star of the '70s, and one of the biggest of all time
  • Her amazing, near-operatic voice was one of the finest instruments of its time
  • Brought country-pop into the mainstream
  • One of the era's great interpretive artists, taking on nearly all forms of American popular music
  • Covered most of the notable rock and pop songwriters of the 20th century
  • Transformed many '50s and '60s oldies hits and made them fresh again
  • A pioneer in popularizing Great American Songbook and Latin music

Early years:

Linda was born into an extremely influential local family, the daughter of a ranch and hardware store owner and a mother who listened to a wide array of music inside the home, including Latin, country, and opera. While attending Arizona State, Ronstadt met a guitarist and fellow student named Bob Kimmel, who convinced her to journey to Los Angeles and break into the burgeoning folk-pop scene there. The result was a group called the Stone Poneys, who scored a Top Ten hit in 1968 with a cover of "Different Drum," written by Michael Nesmith of The Monkees. However, Capitol immediately decided Linda was the real star of the group, and began to phase out the band and its name.

Success:

Ronstadt's first true solo album, Hand Sown... Home Grown, was released in 1969, but Capitol was intent on restricting Linda to a back-to-roots country-pop artist, and when that trend ended in the early 70s, the singer hadn't made any major chart inroads. Switching to the Asylum label on the pleas of her friends and Asylum artists the Eagles, Linda finally struck it big with her 1974 cover of Betty Everett's forgotten soul classic "You're No Good." Riding the wave of the California soft-rock boom, Ronstadt emerged into a superstar, the biggest female rock star to that time, provided with tasteful production and a steady stream of songs from the scene's greatest new songwriters (James Taylor, Warren Zevon, J.D. Souther) as well as a number of refurbished oldies.

Later years:

When the soft-rock scene died out at the turn of the decade, Linda turned to postwar, pre-rock pop music, after having been turned onto standards by Atlantic label head Jerry Wexler. Recording with famed Sinatra arranger Nelson Riddle, Ronstadt carved out a whole second career as a Great American Songbook chanteuse, returning sporadically to modern pop balladry, indulging her country side with the popular Trio collaborations with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, and eventually recording groundbreaking Latin albums that explored the Mexican side of her heritage. Linda still tours and records sporadically today, but complications from Hashimoto's thyroiditis have affected her health. She is currently writing a much-anticipated biography entitled Heart Like A Wheel.

Linda Ronstadt Awards and Honors:

  • GRAMMY Awards (1975, 1976, 1980, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1999)
  • Emmy Award (1989)
  • Latin GRAMMY (2011)

Other Linda Ronstadt facts and trivia:

  • Well-known for her celebrity romances in the 70s and 80s, particularly with director George Lucas, actor Jim Carrey, and California governor Jerry Brown
  • Toured with the Doors during her Stone Poneys days
  • Met the Eagles during a folk hootenanny at the famous L.A. folk club the Troubadour
  • The Byrds' Chris Hillman introduced Linda to Emmylou Harris
  • Toured as Mabel in the 1981 Joseph Papp revival of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance, for which she received a Tony nomination
  • her brother, Peter, was once the police chief in Tucson
  • The first female singer to have two simultaneous hits in the Billboard Top 40
  • Under attack in recent years for remarks against Republicans, fundamentalist Christians, and the Bush administration
  • Has two adopted children

Linda Ronstadt's hit singles and albums:

#1 hits:
Pop:
  • "You're No Good" (1975)
Adult Contemporary:
  • "Don't Know Much" (1989) with Aaron Neville)
  • "All My Life" (1989) with Aaron Neville)
Country:
  • "When Will I Be Loved" (1975)
  • "To Know Him Is To Love Him" with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris (1987)
Top 10 hits:
Pop:
  • "When Will I Be Loved" (1975)
  • "The Tracks of My Tears" (1975)
  • "Blue Bayou" (1977)
  • "Ooh Baby Baby" (1978)
  • "How Do I Make You" (1980)
  • "Hurt So Bad" (1980)
  • "Somewhere Out There" (1987) with James Ingram)
  • "Don't Know Much" (1989) with Aaron Neville)
Adult Contemporary:
  • "When Will I Be Loved" (1975)
  • "Heat Wave" (1975)
  • "Blue Bayou" (1977)
  • "It's So Easy" (1977)
  • "Ooh Baby Baby" (1978)
  • "Just One Look" (1979)
  • "Easy for You to Say" (1983)
  • "What's New" (1983)
  • "I've Got a Crush on You" (1984)
  • "Somewhere Out There" (1987) with James Ingram)
  • "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby" (1990) with Aaron Neville)
  • "Adios" (1990)
Country:
  • "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)" (1974)
  • "Love Is a Rose" (1975)
  • "Crazy" (1976)
  • "Blue Bayou" (1977)
  • "I Never Will Marry" (1978)
  • "Telling Me Lies" with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris (1987)
  • "Telling Me Lies" with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris (1987)
  • "Those Memories of You" with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris (1987)
  • "Wildflowers" with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris (1988)
#1 albums:
Pop:
  • Heart Like a Wheel (1974)
  • Simple Dreams (1977)
  • Living in the USA (1978)
Country:
  • Heart Like a Wheel (1974)
  • Hasten Down the Wind (1976)
  • Simple Dreams (1977)
  • Trio (with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris) (1987)
Top 10 albums:
Pop:
  • Prisoner in Disguise (1975)
  • Hasten Down the Wind (1976)
  • Mad Love (1980)
  • What's New (1983)
  • Trio (with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris) (1987)
  • Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind (1989)
Country:
  • Don't Cry Now (1973)
  • Prisoner in Disguise (1975)
  • Living in the USA (1978)
  • Trio II (with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris) (1999)
  • Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions (with Emmylou Harris) (1999)
Other notable recordings: "Poor Poor Pitiful Me," "That'll Be the Day," "Long, Long Time," "Silver Threads and Golden Needles," "Tumbling Dice," "Get Closer," "It Doesn't Matter Anymore," "Someone to Lay Down Beside Me," "My Blue Tears" with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, "Hey Mister, That's Me Up On the Jukebox," "The Long Way Around," "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "He Dark the Sun," "I Fall to Pieces," "Rock Me on the Water," "Love Has No Pride, "Lose Again," "Alison," "I Can't Let Go," "I Knew You When," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Skylark," "When I Fall in Love," "When You Wish Upon a Star," "I Love You for Sentimental Reasons," "Dreams to Dream," "Gritenme Piedras del Campo," "Frenesi," "Perfidia," "Entre Abismos," "Heartbeats Accelerating," "Adonde Voy," "Oh No Not My Baby," "Blue Train," "Walk On," "Feels Like Home" with Emmylou Harris, "Dedicated to the One I Love," "We Ran"

Appears in the movies: "FM" (1978), "The Pirates of Penzance" (1983), "Linda Ronstadt in Concert: What's New" (1984), "The Return of Ruben Blades" (1985), "Uncle Meat" (1987), "Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll" (1987)

Covered by: Trisha Yearwood, Van Halen, Alison Krauss, The Lemonheads, Sarah Brightman, Reba McIntire, Elvis Costello, Floyd Cramer, Bill Medley, Hank Marvin

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