LINDA RONSTADT is arguably the most versatile vocalist of the modern era, having forged a four-decade career which established her as one of the very important artists in one of the most creative periods in the history of modern music. She has broadened the latitudes of the pop singer, expanding the vocalist’s canvas to include country, rock and roll, big band, jazz, opera, Broadway standards, Mexican and Afro-Cuban influences, leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of the ultimate song. With worldwide album sales of over 50 million, at least 31 gold and platinum records, 10 Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts, and membership in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to her credit, Linda is the consummate American artist.
While Linda was a student at the University of Arizona, she met guitarist Bob Kimmel. The duo moved to Los Angeles, where they were joined by guitarist/songwriter Kenny Edwards. Calling themselves the Stone Poneys, the group became a leading attraction on California's folk circuit, recording their self-titled first album The Stone Poneys in 1967. The band's second album, Evergreen, Vol. 2, featured the Top 20 hit "Different Drum," which was written by Michael Nesmith. After recording one more album with the group, Linda left for a solo career at the end of 1968.
Linda’s first two solo albums - Hand Sow, Home Grown (1969) and Silk Purse (1970) - accentuated her country roots, and helped to create the burgeoning California country-rock movement..
Released in 1971, her self-titled third album Linda Ronstadt was a pivotal record in her career. Featuring a group of session musicians that would later become the Eagles, the album was a softer, more laidback variation of the country-rock she had been recording. With the inclusion of material from singer/songwriters like Jackson Browne, Neil Young and Eric Andersen, Linda became one of the premier interpreters of the new folk-rock idiom .
Don't Cry Now, released in 1973, followed the same formula to greater success, yet it was 1974's Heart Like a Wheel that perfected the sound, making Linda Ronstadt a star. Featuring the hit covers "You're No Good," "When Will I Be Loved" and "It Doesn't Matter Anymore," Heart Like a Wheel reached number one and sold over two million copies. Released in the fall of 1975, Prisoner in Disguise followed the same pattern as Heart Like a Wheel and was nearly as successful. Hasten Down the Wind, released in 1976, charted higher than Prisoner in Disguise.
Simple Dreams (1977) expanded the formula by adding a more rock-oriented supporting band, which breathed life into the Rolling Stones' "Tumbling Dice" and Warren Zevon's "Poor Pitiful Me." The record became the singer's biggest hit, staying on the top of the charts for five weeks and selling over three million copies.
With Living in the U.S.A. (1978) Linda began experimenting with new wave, recording Elvis Costello's "Alison"; the album was another number one hit. She made a full-fledged new wave record with 1980's Mad Love, recording three Costello songs and adopting a synth-laden sound. While the album was a commercial success, Linda was growing restless with rock music. After the release of 1982's Get Closer, she sensed it was time to try something new.
After meeting New York theatre legend Joe Papp, she was cast in his new Broadway staging of the classic Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, Pirates of Penzance, with Kevin Kline and Rex Smith. Following the show’s long theatrical run, Linda starred in the movie version as well. She then embarked on her most ambitious project - a collaboration with Nelson Riddle, who arranged and conducted her 1983 collection of pop standards, What's New. Against all expectations, it was a considerable hit, reaching number three on the charts and selling over two million copies. Linda’s next two standards albums, Lush Life (1984) and For Sentimental Reasons (1986), were also very successful.
At the end of 1986, Linda returned to contemporary pop, recording "Somewhere Out There," the theme to the animated An American Tail, with James Ingram; the single became a number two hit. She also returned to her country roots in 1987, recording the first Trio album with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. That same year, Ronstadt recorded Canciones de mi Padre, a set of traditional Mexican songs from her childhood. To the surprise of everyone except Linda, the album became a multi-platinum success, and is still the largest-selling Spanish language CD in the history of the U.S. music industry.
Two years later, she recorded Cry Like a Rainstorm - Howl Like the Wind -- her first contemporary pop album since 1982's Get Closer. Featuring four duets with Aaron Neville, including the number two hit "Don't Know Much," the album sold over two million copies.
Linda returned to traditional Mexican material with Mas Canciones (1991) and later recorded a Cuban influenced album, Frenesí (1992). In 1994's Winter Light, and 1996’s Feels Like Home, she returned to singing the work of her favorite contemporary songwriters. Fulfilling a long-standing wish, she also recorded a children’s lullaby album, Dedicated to the One I Love.
The long-awaited reunion record, Trio II with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, arrived in 1998 as well as We Ran. Emmylou Harris and Linda teamed up again in 1999 and released the fabulous Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions. Two years later in 2002, Linda delivered the holiday collection A Merry Little Christmas. Her 2004 release, Hummin’ to Myself on Verve Records marked her first foray into jazz and received universally high acclaim. Two years later, she recorded her final album, Adieu, False Heart, a duet collaboration with Cajun artist Ann Savoy.
In 2006, Linda was honored by the Hispanic-American artistic community when she was given the prestigious ALMA Award in a ceremony televised on ABC-TV.
Linda Ronstadt sang her last concert in 2009, and shortly thereafter announced her retirement from singing. Unlike most retirements, however, Linda’s has been quite busy.
In 2011, she received a Latin Grammy for Lifetime Achievement from NARAS President Neil Portnow. Fellow honorees included Jose Feliciano and Ray Santos, who worked with Linda on her album, Frenesí.
Later that year, Linda signed a book contract with Jonathan Karp at Simon & Schuster and commenced work on her autobiography. Released in 2013, Simple Dreams, A Musical Memoir, made the New York Times best-seller list and kicked off an extensive book tour, including numerous TV appearances, covering both the East and West Coasts, and culminating in her native Arizona.
In December of 2013, Linda was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The ceremony was held on April 10, 2014 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and featured an induction speech by Eagles founding member (and ex-Ronstadt band mate) Glenn Frey, as well as a musical tribute to Linda featuring Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow, and Carrie Underwood.
During the summer of 2014, Linda was honored by President Barack Obama, who awarded her the National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony on July 28, 2014.
From 2014 to late 2018, Linda toured occasionally with her highly-acclaimed one-woman show, “A Conversation with Linda Ronstadt.” Featuring photos, audio and selected video, Linda recounted episodes from various times in her long career, as well as her thoughts on music and what it has meant in her life. A 30-minute Q&A followed. She did her last series of dates in October of 2018.
On April 23, 2016, Linda was honored with a special Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The show, which featured Jefferson Airplane and other notable artists, was televised October 14, 2016 on PBS as part of their Great Performances series.
In the future, Linda will continue to serve on the Advisory Board of Los Cenzontles, an Academy in California’s East Bay dedicated to the preservation of Mexican Heritage. Founded by Eugene Rodriguez, the organization serves to educate the community about Hispanic art, music and culture.
In early 2019, Rhino Entertainment released “Linda Ronstadt – Live in Hollywood,” her first and only live concert album, recorded on April 24, 1980.
1969 Hand Sown Home Grown
1970 Silk Purse
1971 Linda Ronstadt
1973 Don't Cry Now
1974 Heart Like a Wheel
1975 Prisoner in Disguise
1976 Hasten Down the Wind
1978 Living in the U.S.A.
1980 Mad Love
1982 Get Closer
1983 What's New
1984 Lush Life
1986 For Sentimental Reasons
1987 Canciones de Mi Padre
1989 Cry Like a Rainstorm - Howl Like the Wind
1990 Mas Canciones
1994 Winter Light
1995 Feels Like Home
1996 Dedicated to the One I Love
1998 We Ran
2000 A Merry Little Christmas
2002 What's New
2002 Cristal – Glass Music Through the Ages
2004 Hummin' to Myself
2006 Adieu False Heart (w/ Ann Savoy)
2014 Duets (with various artists)
Compilations / Box Sets
1974 Different Drum
1975 The Stone Poneys Featuring Linda Ronstadt
1976 Greatest Hits, Vol. 1
1977 Simple Dreams/Prisoner in Disguise
1977 A Retrospective
1980 Greatest Hits, Vol. 2
1984 For Country Lovers
1986 Round Midnight with Nelson Riddle and his...
1999 Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions
1999 The Linda Ronstadt Box Set
2000 Three For One
2003 The Very Best of Linda Ronstadt
2006 The Best of Linda Ronstadt – The Capitol Years
2015 Just One Look – Classic Linda Ronstadt
2015 The Trio Box Set – Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris & Dolly Parton