Linda Ronstadt

  • Rock/Pop/Folk singer, songwriter and musician, born in 1946 in Tucson Arizona.
  • Ronstadt grew up in a family that was filled with music. Her family sang all types of music – from opera to rock to mariachi – and she claims that everything she recorded was based on what she had heard in her living room by the time she was 10 years old. When she was 14, she formed a folk group with her brother and sister. They performed at coffeehouses and small venues, calling themselves The Union City Ramblers or The Three Ronstadts. They recorded at a studio, using the name The New Union City Ramblers. At 18 years old, she moved to Los Angeles, determined to make a career of music.
  • In LA, she formed a folk-rock group in 1964 with Bobby Kimmel, a friend from Tucson who earlier moved to California and was writing songs with Kenny Edwards. They were signed to a recording deal, called The Stone Poneys. They recorded 3 albums in 1967 and 1968 – one single, Different Drum (written by Michael Nesmith before he joined The Monkees) reached #13 on the Hot 100 chart.
  • Ronstadt went solo in 1969 with her debut album, Hand Sown…Home Grown. It has been called the first alternative country album ever made. It did not chart, but it was the beginning of a career that would make her one of the most successful women in music during the 70s. She released 8 studio albums during the 70s – the last 5 were in the top 5 of the Billboard 200 album chart, with 3 reaching #1, and all were certified platinum or multi-platinum (the first woman ever to have 5 consecutive platinum albums). Eleven songs would chart in the top 10 of the Hot 100, Hot Country or Adult Contemporary charts, with You’re No Good and When Will I Be Loved reaching #1, and I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You), Blue Bayou and Ohh Baby Baby peaking at #2. She won 2 Grammy awards during the decade (for I Can’t Help It and Hasten Down The Wind), and she was the highest paid woman in rock.
  • She remained highly popular in the 80s, diversifying into different areas. Of her 7 studio albums during the 80s, 6 were certified platinum or multi-platinum. Her highest charting single was in 1989, a collaboration with Aaron Neville called Don’t Know Much which reached #2 on the Hot 100. Three of her albums in the 80s were traditional pop albums – old pop songs from the 30s, 40s and 50s. They brought these old classics to a new generation of music lovers.
  • She performed in 3 broadway musicals during the 80s. In 1981 and 1982, she had a lead role in The Pirates of Penzance, receiving a Tony award nomination for Best Lead Actress. She performed the role of Mimi in a short run of Puccini’s La Bohème, and in 1988, a musical adaptation was made from her first album of Mexican music which she released in 1987 – the show was titled Canciones De Mi Padre – A Romantic Evening in Old Mexico. A performance of the show on PBS’s Great Performances earned her an Emmy award.
  • Ronstadt won 4 more Grammy awards in the 80s, all in different categories. A compilation she did with other artists in 1980 for Sesame Street won an award in the Children’s category. Her country/rock album Get Closer won an award in the Pop category. The song Get Closer won in the rock category. And her Mexican music album won in the Mexican-American category.
  • In 1987, she released an album in collaboration with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. Titled Trio, it was 10 years in the making – the artists had recorded together in 1978, but their work was not released at that time. It sold over a million copies in the U.S. and reached #1 on the country album chart, with To Know Him Is To Love Him reaching #1 on the country singles chart. The trio released a second album, Trio II, in 1994.
  • Her 7 studio albums released between 1991 and 2004 continued to reflect her diverse style. Two albums were Spanish language albums, one had a new age/art rock approach, one was an album of classic rock songs presented as lullabies, and she also had a rock album, a country album and a jazz album. She won 5 more Grammy awards, in Pop, Latin, Mexican American, Country and Children categories. She also won a Lifetime Achievement Grammy award in 2016.
  • In 2011, Ronstadt announced her retirement from music. Two years later, she revealed that she had Parkinson’s Disease, which prevented her from singing anymore – she says that she cannot even sing in the shower anymore.
  • In 2014, Ronstadt was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Also that year, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts and Humanities.
  • In 2019, a documentary was released titled Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice. It covered her career from childhood to today. The film won the 2021 Grammy award for Best Music Film – her eleventh Grammy award.
  • When I recall the music of the 70s, Linda Ronstadt comes to mind as one of the best artists. The diversity of her work is amazing. I find her vocals with Dolly and Emmylou to be stunning! Watch the trio perform Neil Young’s After The Goldrush on The Late Show with David Letterman – the harmony from these women is beautiful, with Linda handling the high harmony. This is worth watching! And as a bonus, watch the clip of the trio singing The Sweetest Gift from Dolly’s 1976 TV special.

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