Linda Ronstadt (1946) American country and folk-rock singer
Arizone State University student Linda Ronstadt (born July 15, 1946 in Tucson, Arizona) became a musician when she met guitarist Bob Kimmel. They moved to Los Angeles, where Kenny Edwards joined them to be folk group Stone Poneys. They recorded three albums (including a minor hit Different Drum, written by Michael Nesmith) before Ronstadt decided to go solo in 1968.
Her first two albums (Hand Sown Home Grown and Silk Purse) were definitely honky-tonk country productions. Her softer self-titled third album (1971) featuring a group of musicians later known as the Eagles, was a key record in her career. She did not leave her folk connections 'though, indicated by stylish contributions of Jackson Browne, Neil Young, and Eric Anderson. After Don't Cry Now (1973) it was the 1974 album Heart Like a Wheel that made Ronstadt a definite star, featuring the hit covers You're No Good, When Will I Be Loved and It Doesn't Matter Anymore.
Its successors called Prisoner in Disguise (1975) and Hasten Down the Wind (1976) followed the same track and were nearly as successful. Simple Dreams (1977) expanded the formula by adding a more rock-oriented supporting band, reviving the Rolling Stones' Tumbling Dice and Warren Zevon's Poor Poor Pitiful Me. The album became Ronstadt's biggest hit, staying on the top of the American charts for five weeks and selling over three million copies.
A new wave experiment with Elvis Costello's Alison meant another Ronstadt success one year later. With 1980's Mad Love, she made her own new wave record, recording three Costello songs and adopting a synthesizer sound. Still, the new step in her career meant less success. All of the next albums would fail to make platinum, which had not happened to any of Linda's productions since 1974.
Ronstadt started to do other things, like acting in the Broadway production of Gilbert & Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance, as well as the accompanying movie.
At the end of 1986, Ronstadt revisited sheer pop, reaching number two in the charts with Somewhere Out There, a duet with James Ingram. She also returned to her country roots in 1987, recording the Trio album with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. That same year, Ronstadt surprisingly produced an album of traditional Mexican songs, called Canciones de mi Padre (Songs of my Father). Two years later, she recorded a complete pop album Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind, featuring four duets with Aaron Neville, including the number two hit Don't Know Much. The album sold over two million copies.
Since then, she switched between Mexican and English records, but none of them very successful: Más Canciones (1991), Frenesi (1992), Winter Light (1994), Feels Like Home (1995), the children's album Dedicated to the One I Love (1996), We Ran (1998) and A Merry Little Christmas (2000). Five Linda Ronstadt biographies have been written:
- Richard Kanakaris, Linda Ronstadt: A Portrait (Pop, Los Angeles, 1977)
- Vivian Claire, Linda Ronstadt (Flash Books, New York, 1978)
- Mary Ellen Moore, The Linda Ronstadt Scrapbook (Sunridge Press, 1978)
- Connie Berman, Linda Ronstadt: An Illustrated Biography (Proteus, London, 1979)
- Mark Bego, Linda Ronstadt - It's So Easy (Eakin Press, Austin, 1990)