LINDA RONSTADT – Happy 74th birthday Today

Posted: July 15, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Linda Ronstadt – The biggest shout out to the great Linda Ronstadt celebrating her 74th birthday today. From the great sprawling Southwest on a ranch in Tucson, Arizona sprang Linda Ronstadt, destined to be among the greatest singer’s of her generation. She was exposed to a wide range of musical influences in her home during her formative years – Rock, Folk, Country, R & B, Pop, Light Opera, Doo-Wop and Mariachi – which she heard on the radio or sung by family members. Her home then was the incubator for her eclectic tastes over a 40-year career. Is there anyone in popular music with a more powerful voice, with a greater range, and with a stronger emotional connection to a lyric? And is there another female singer who has combined such wholesomeness with such sexiness?.

Ronstadt’s first taste of success came with the Folk-Rock group the Stone Poneys in 1967 with the Michael Nesmith song “Different Drum,” a Top 13 hit, which became a signature song for Ronstadt. The band broke up after a year and three albums, and Ronstadt went solo, scoring her first hit, “Long Long Time,” (1970) a beautiful ballad that was a precursor of things to come. For the next five years success eluded her. But she worked with Sweetwater, an early, notable Country Rock band, and the original Eagles for a short stint in 1971. While recording “Don’t Cry Now,” her third solo album and biggest seller to date and feeling the need for a producer with a compatible vision, she teamed up with Peter Asher (One half of the English Pop group Peter & Gordon and the brother of one-time Paul McCartney flame Jane Asher), which was the turning point for Ronstadt, and the partnership yielded immediate rewards with their professional relationship lasting from 1973 until 1988.

With the album “Heart Like a Wheel,” their first collaboration in late 1974, Ronstadt enjoyed her first #1 album with the hit singles “You’re No Good,”(#1) and “When Will I Be Loved,” (#2) on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. This was the first of six top Ten albums, including “Hasten Down the Wind,’ (1976). By the time of Simple Dreams (1977), Linda Ronstadt had few peers as an interpreter of rock, country and pop. Her unerring ear for material and incandescent vocals made her one of the decade’s most successful performers – that 1977 Asylum release includes a pair of songs from early rock ‘n’ roll greats Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison that became Top 10 singles (“It’s So Easy” and “Blue Bayou”), more recent rockers from The Rolling Stones (“Tumbling Dice”) and Warren Zevon (“Poor Poor Pitiful Me”), and a country hit recorded with Dolly Parton (“I Never Will Marry”). Add the talents of some of L.A.’s best session players, and Simple Dreams couldn’t miss – it became Ronstadt’s fifth consecutive platinum LP, and spent weeks at No.1, knocking Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours out of the top slot.

“Living in the USA,” (1978) – the latter two both hitting number one. By decades end, Ronstadt had become the Top Female Pop Singer of the 1970s – the reigning queen of album sales.

In the 1980s she branched out in new directions appearing on Broadway in “The Pirates of Penzance (which ran for nearly two years), and collaborating with conductor Nelson Riddle on three Pop standard’s albums, one of which “What’s New,” (1983) climbed to #3. A collaboration with Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton in 1986 resulted in “Trio,” an album garnering a Grammy Award for Group Country vocal. The ensuing album in 1987 “Canciones de mi Padre,” an album of traditional Mexican songs, inspired by her childhood, also copped a Grammy Award for Mexican American album which went double platinum (2 million units sold). Finally, there was her collaboration with Aaron Neville in 1989 “Cry Like a Rainstorm,” featuring the smash duet “Don’t Know Much.” Flush with massive success, Ronstadt entered the 1990s on a high note. Though album sales dipped during the decade, there was “Mas Canciones,” a second album of Mexican songs (and yet another Grammy award winner), and a second “Trio,” album, with both faring well.

By the dawn of the new Millennium, Ronstadt had won every conceivable award (too many to cite here), and had collaborated with the crème de la crème of recording artists including Warren Zevon, Johnny Cash, Paul Simon, Frank Zappa, Neil Young and a host of others. She has sold in excess of 100 million records and has had 10 Top 10 albums of the 36 that have charted, and three chart toppers. She finally received a long overdue award – an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, and in 2017 received a lifetime achievement artistic award at the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts in Washington DC… Ronstadt retired in 2009 and announced her Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2013. She has retreated to her home in the Sea Cliff section of San Francisco overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge…. It is a cruel irony that Ronstadt who was blessed with such a magnificent voice should be silenced by this disease, but her spirit is strong and she will always be loved by her multitude of fans, and will be elevated to the pantheon of the greatest vocalists who have ever walked this earth.

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