Linda Ronstadt has been wowing crowds with her huge voice for decades. To date, she has recorded over 30 albums and has won 12 Grammy Awards, two Academy of Country Awards, an Emmy, an ALMA Award, and has many United States certified gold, platinum, and multi-platinum records. Born in 1946, Linda Ronstadt has wasted no time trying a variety of different genres, dabbling in everything from straight rock and roll to country to big band music. She has won new fans with each musical experiment and has collaborated with such music notables as The Eagles, Aaron Neville, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, Alison Krauss, Nelson Riddle, Frank Zappa, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Neil Young, Johnny Cash and even The Muppets!
Linda Ronstadt grew up in Tucson, Arizona and began her professional career at age 14, when she and her brother, Peter, and sister, Suzy, formed a trio. The three would play in coffeehouses and similarly small venues. Linda went off to college when she was 18, but decided she’d rather be a singer. In 1964, she moved to Los Angeles and by 1966, she had joined The Stone Poneys, famous for the hit song “Different Drum”. She released her first solo album, Hand Sown… Home Grown, in 1969. In the early 70s, she linked up with session players Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Randy Meisner, and Bernie Leadon, four guys who went on to form The Eagles. They toured with her for awhile in 1971 before branching off to find their own massive success. Ronstadt enjoyed significant success in the 1970s playing rock and at one time was the highest paid woman in rock and roll.
Her success as a rock and roll diva in the 70s gave her the latitude to try other genres. In the 80s, Linda Ronstadt experimented with big band music, recording a trilogy of albums with Nelson Riddle. She also sang the lead in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, which eventually became a hit on Broadway. Her Broadway role garnered her a Tony Award nomination. Ronstadt even tried opera when she was cast as Mimi in La Bohème in Joseph Papp’s Public Theater. Unfortunately, the production closed after a few nights.
In the late 1980s, Linda Ronstadt teamed up with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris and the three recorded Trio. The three were friends and had long admired each other’s work; they had wanted to record Trio in the 70s, but were not able to until 1987. When Trio finally hit the shelves, it was a big hit winning new fans in both the pop and country. Ronstadt, Parton, and Harris went on to record a follow-up to Trio which was released in 1999.
In 1989, Linda Ronstadt released her album, Cry Like A Rainstorm, Howl Like The Wind, which included a well-received duet called “Don’t Know Much”. She sang with Aaron Neville, who also joined her on the song, “All My Life”. In 1995, she went back to her country rock roots with the album Feels Like Home, which featured a young Alison Krauss playing fiddle and Ronstadt’s cover of Randy Newman’s now famous love song, “Feels Like Home”. In 1995, she also joined James Taylor, Elton John, Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, and Randy Newman on Randy Newman’s Faust, a sardonic musical rendition of the classic story.
Linda Ronstadt has enjoyed a long and celebrated career in music, gathering many accolades and new admirers at each turn. Sadly, it appears that Ronstadt may be finished making music. In 2011, Ronstadt announced her retirement. In 2013, she revealed to AARP that she has Parkinson’s Disease and can no longer sing.
Linda Ronstadt sings “Long, Long Time”
Linda Ronstadt sings “Blue Bayou” on The Muppet Show.
Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville sing their duet, “Don’t Know Much”.