Synopsis of Pop Music
"I’ve been cheated,
When will I be loved?”
In Linda Ronstadt’s more than four decades on the music scene, she has worked in two languages, several musical genres, on the stage and silver screen as an actress, in famous duets and collaborations, and in high profile relationships with politicians. All that, and she was able to make a roller-skate stance look as beguiling and sexy as it ever did…right there on the cover of 1978’s Living in the U.S.A. 'Diverse' and 'durable' aren't always the most glamorous of adjectives, and could comfortably describe something like an athletic shoe line...but for a music persona, they're highly complementary. This lady is both.
Reared in a musical family, Linda dropped out of the University of Arizona in 1964 to move to L.A. with guitarist Bob Kimmel. The two music aspirants fell in with Kenny Edwards and formed the Stone Poneys—local favorites at the Troubadour, the club apex of Los Angeles folk rock in the late 60’s. They were signed by Capitol and had a hit with 1968’s “Different Drum.” Later that year, Ronstadt went solo.
Her first two albums had a country bent, along with a couple of all-out honky-tonk ditties. Her self-titled third release came in 1971 and clung to a softer rock sound, with songs by Neil Young, Jackson Browne and Eric Anderson. For her touring band, incidentally, she assembled the Troubadour-frequenting session musicians Don Henley, Glen Frey, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner, who would later form the Eagles. Ronstadt's mainstream breakthrough came in 1974 with Heart Like a Wheel, and its hit singles “You’re No Good,” “When Will I Be Loved” and “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.” Then, from Simple Dreams in 1977 came the biggest hit of her career, Warren Zevon’s “Poor Poor Pitiful Me.”
For the remainder of the 70’s, Ronstadt's albums mixed both country and rock, though on 1978’s Living in the U.S.A., she dipped her foot in the new wave pool, with three Elvis Costello covers and plenty of synthesizers. At the time, she was also dating California governor Jerry Brown and performed at Jimmy Carter’s inaugural festivities.
With the dawn of the 1980’s, Linda itched to try other things. She starred in Joseph Papp’s Pirates of Penzance on Broadway, then in the movie version, and she made an operatic debut in La Boheme in 1984. She began to collaborate with composer vet Nelson Riddle, with whom she released an album of pop standards in 1983. With James Ingram in 1986, she crooned “Somewhere Out There” for the animated An American Tale, and teamed up with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris on their Trio album.
In 1989, Ronstadt released Cry Like a Rainstorm – Howl Like the Wind, which boasted the lovey-dovey and very popular “Don’t Know Much” duet with Aaron Neville and appearances from Brian Wilson and Jimmy Webb.
The versatile performer's always-expanding repertoire went even wider in the early 90's, with three records of Mexican and Spanish songs. And as the ultimate proof of her musical diversity, on 1994’s Kermit Unpigged, Ronstadt and Jim Henson’s great green one provided her duet resume with yet another entry. Clearly, this well-seasoned performer is as unafraid of roller skates and crooning amphibians as she is experimentation.
Artist Release History1967 – The Stone Poneys
1969 – Hand Sown…Home Grown
1970 – Silk Purse
1972 – Linda Ronstadt
1973 – Don’t Cry Now
1974 – Heart Like a Wheel
1974 – Different Drum
1975 – Prisoner in Disguise
1976 – Hasten Down the Wind
1977 – Simple Dreams/Prisoner in Disguise
1977 – A Retrospective
1978 – Living in the U.S.A.
1980 – Mad Love
1982 – Get Closer
1983 – What’s New
1984 – Lush Life
1986 – Round Midnight: The Nelson Riddle Sessions
1986 – For Sentimental Reasons
1988 – Canciones De Mi Padre (Songs From My Father)
1989 – Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind
1991 – Mas Canciones
1992 – Frenesi
1993 – Winter Light
1995 – Feels Like Home
1996 – Dedicated to the One I Love
1998 – We Ran
1999 – Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions