Linda Ronstadt: Not So Easy

Published on December 5th, 2011 in: Dancing Ourselves Into The Tomb, Feminism, Issues, Music |

There were other popular female singers, of course. Olivia Newton-John had scored a number of country hits in the early to mid ’70s, while Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, and Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks were forging strong identities in pop, folk, and rock. Those three in particular receive a large share of attention in any assessment of ’70s female rockers. And with good reason: they not only sang some of the decade’s most defining hits, they also wrote them. Unlike Ronstadt, who sought her muse in others (most of whom were men), Joni, Carly, and Stevie were true singer-songwriters. It’s a distinction that, ever since The Beatles and Bob Dylan, still carries significant weight. (Would Taylor Swift be half the critical darling she is if she didn’t also write all those precocious, catchy tunes?)

linda and mick by lynn goldsmith
Linda Ronstadt & Mick Jagger
Photo © Lynn Goldsmith

But it’s an unfair knock. No one ever accused Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday or Aretha Franklin of not writing her own material, and each still manages to get all sorts of R-E-S-P-E-C-T (sorry). Linda was—and is—an interpreter. As was Frank Sinatra. And Bing Crosby. And even Elvis Presley. And she was an amazingly successful and versatile one, continuing her string of hit albums even after she’d left the safety of rock for the riskier waters of opera, big band standards, and Mexican ranchero music. But it’s that very versatility which may be her undoing in The Establishment’s eyes—suggesting as it does that her decade-long commitment to pop was only a youthful flirtation.

But despite what she’s done since, the fact remains that she was there—down in the trenches with the big boys, helping to define a new genre and a new perception of what a female singer could accomplish. And if the songs she chose to sing weren’t usually her own, they were still remarkably consistent in what they expressed and in the very specific feelings that fueled them. “I have to be emotionally connected to a song or I can’t sing it,” she once said. “I won’t step out of character. I won’t do things that aren’t authentically me.”

Just as importantly, the popularity of those songs—written by artists like Roy Orbison, Chuck Berry, and Buddy Holly as well as new talents like Warren Zevon, Karla Bonoff, and Elvis Costello—brought an undeniable awareness of those artists to a new generation of music listeners.

us queens of rock

I was among those in Ronstadt’s “school of rock.” Like so many Top 40-weaned adolescents finding their way in the musical wilderness, a sense of what came before or what lay ahead wasn’t always apparent. This was before MTV or even oldies stations, much less the Internet and satellite radio. So it was far more difficult (and costly) to casually investigate artistic legacies or the work of cutting-edge newcomers. Certainly I knew who The Rolling Stones were. But the first time I heard “Tumbling Dice,” at age 14, was when Linda sang it. It was the same with Elvis Costello’s “Alison” and “Party Girl”—songs that went on (in both their versions) to become all-time personal favorites. And while Warren Zevon’s first album is now considered a classic, few had heard of him until Ronstadt’s cover of “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me.” Other composers, less well-known today, also experienced major career boosts from being in Ronstadt’s spotlight. If not a songwriter herself, she was the singer-songwriter’s champion and best friend.

Rolling Stone, which grew increasingly dismissive of her in later years, acknowledges as much in its online bio. Yet despite all those 1970s magazine covers and in-depth interviews, its damning-her-with-faint-praise approach was already apparent in a 1980 review of Mad Love. “No matter how tough she acts,” it read, “she can’t help sounding pretty.” As if a superb, often note-perfect, voice were somehow antithetical to rocking out. If there are any doubts about Ronstadt’s (or her kickass band’s) rock & roll bona fides, just look at her 1977 Atlanta performance of “Tumbling Dice/”You’re No Good” on YouTube; or even more impressive, her 1986 rendition of “Back In The USA” in which she not only holds her own with rock gods Chuck Berry and Keith Richards, she tears the roof off the joint.

Still, the question remains: What, if any, is Linda Ronstadt’s 1970s legacy, and is it deserving of greater recognition? Looking back on the decade in 1980, Ronstadt herself was typically modest: “I don’t think I’ve made the kind of impact that changes the face of music like, say, The Rolling Stones or the Beatles . . . I brought together a lot of kinds of straight threads of music and put them in a little fabric that has an interesting design. I had commercial success and opened the door for girl singers.”

That last sentence is key, and it’s what many believe makes her unjustly neglected by rock & roll’s gatekeepers. She had more hits, more money, and more platinum records than any other female singer up to that time, along with international recognition and a slew of top awards. That alone should be enough to make her Hall of Fame-worthy. But her songs also formed an indispensable part of a decade’s musical fabric, not only helping define a genre that thrives even today, but teaching more than one starry-eyed 14-year-old what good music was, where it came from, and how beautifully—and heartbreakingly—it could be sung.

Special thanks go to Linda’s unofficial fan website,, whose archive of historical clippings and articles proved an invaluable resource while researching this piece.

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54 Responses to “Linda Ronstadt: Not So Easy”

  1. Mark:
    December 6th, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Thank you for this – Linda is a truly great artist.

  2. George:
    December 7th, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Great article…it’s a sham and a shame that Linda isn’t in the Hall of Fame. And the fact that she has never even been a finalist is inexcusable. One small correction though…Ooh Baby Baby was indeed a single…it reached at least the Top 40 and maybe even the Top Ten.

  3. Erik:
    December 7th, 2011 at 10:06 am

    People need to be reminded of Linda’s impact on rock, and you have done so exceptionally well. Kudos!

  4. David Speranza:
    December 7th, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Thanks for all the comments. George, you are correct about “Ooh Baby Baby”–she had so many hits that it can get tough to keep track of them! I’ll see what I can do about correcting that in the article.

  5. winston:
    December 7th, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    I don’t know. Joplin and Carole King has No. 1 albums before Ronstadt really emerged. And there were Nyro and Ian and Mitchell and Simon, not to mention all the “girl groups” of the mid 60s. and Nacy Sinatra, etc. Plus Olivia Newton John had already scaled the US charts in 1974. So I’m not sold about the pioneer claims. And country rock emerged in the 60s with Dylan and the Byrds. (I always thought it was a natural extension of folk rock). No doubt Ronstadt had a good commercial run in the mid 70s-1980, but “middle of the road” keeps flashing in my addled brain. Let’s just say that there are arguments in praise of LR as an artist (she had a great voice) but also arguments against her. And there are other artists who have a better claim to recognition. But I think LR has some very devoted fans.

  6. David Speranza:
    December 7th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    You make some good points. Not to take anything away from the great people you mention, but the case being made here is for Linda as not just a successful female singer, but a female *superstar*. Yes, the other women were successful (several of whom I mention), but not on anywhere near the level of Linda in the ’70s. As for country-rock in the ’60s, my understanding is that that was more folk than country, with the country influence not really emerging until the ’70s.

  7. winston:
    December 7th, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Country rock definitely developed in the 1960s with Dylan, the Byrds, Gram Parsons and even the Everly Brothers.

    When you mention superstars, Joplin had made a number of appearances on network television and even headlined at Madison Square Garden in 1969. Fleetwood Mac with Nicks and Buckingham had their massive commercial breakthrough in 1975. So I’m not really sold on the first female superstar claims either. More to the point, rock in the 70s was marked by the general transition from clubs and halls into arenas, so the fact that Ronstadt could play them in the mid to late 70s is a sign of the times more than anything. I think Joplin doing it in 1969 is a much bigger accomplishment.

  8. winston:
    December 7th, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Actually, in addition to MSG Joplin headlined at the Baltimore Civic Center, the San Antonio Hemisphere Arena, the Cole Fieldhouse, the Hollywood Bowl, the HIC Arena, etc. She appeared on Ed Sullivan and Dick Cavett (twice). And this is all before Pearl. I think Joplin takes the title. Ronstadt was clearly not the first female music star to play arenas.

  9. winston:
    December 7th, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Not to spam you but here is a link to Joplin’s headlining concert at the Civic Arena in Nov., 1969. (Opening act was Santana):

    Anyway I’m done. I’m just fascinated by music history and I had way too much time on my hands today. Ronstadt’s fans are very vocal and dedicated. But inevitably there is a tendency towards exaggeration. At her peak she was a popular star.

  10. Beau Bradlee:
    December 7th, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Fleetwood Mac was not a “female artist.” They were a band. Janis Joplin did play some large venues… don’t recall if she did a tour of large venues. Since she died prematurely, we won’t know what would have happened to her career. Early death always enhances the legend.

    I actually enjoyed Ronstadt’s concerts better after 1980, when she started playing auditoriums instead of arenas, and she was able to concentrate on her true strength, her voice. Her long career amounts to much more than someone who was “a popular star at her peak.” I find her best music happened in the 1990s, when her “popularity” was approaching its nadir.

    And the author didn’t say Linda was the first to have a #1 album. But in rock/pop music, I don’t recall anyone other than Streisand stringing so many hot selling albums together in a row.

    As for there are arguments for Linda/ against Linda– isn’t that true of every artist? Even Elvis! Even the Beatles! There are certainly aspects of Linda’s career and performances that I don’t think are perfect, but that doesn’t diminish the value of her work.

    Thanks for the article, David!

  11. winston:
    December 8th, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Yes Fleetwood Mac was not a band. (Thanks). The simple point I’m making is that claiming that LR was supposedly the first female superstar in rock becomes difficult when two female performers are so prominently featured in the most commercially successful rock band of that era. And despite her premature death Joplin clearly did achieve superstar status and the attendant mass media attention that went with it.

    Anyway I just don’t get this effort to rehabilitate LR. As I’ve said, there are other artists out there who are seemingly more deserving of recognition. Yet LR seems to have a very dedicated core of fans who endlessly advocate her alleged importance. Good for her.

    Bottom line, LR is not the victim of a music critic conspiracy. Rather her reputation has declined over time because she had on many levels a forgetable career. She was successful but not creative. She was safe and the epitome of middle of the road. And yes she was not a songwriter, which is definitely a factor in how we evaluate a musical artist’s career, particularly by the mid 70s. There is certainly a correlation to this and why claims of her being some sort of pioneer are so consistently overblown. If anything she was a compromise, the type of female artist that staid US radio was willing to accept in the 1970s. Maybe the price of having such a commercially safe career is the legacy you leave behind. Safe and MOR do not exactly spark the imagination. It can sell records though.

  12. Popshifter:
    December 8th, 2011 at 8:03 am


    Nowhere in the article does it claim that Linda Ronstadt was the “first female superstar in rock.”

    There is no “effort to rehabilitate LR.” The theme of this issue of Popshifter is THE 1970s. In keeping with that theme, the article is about Linda Ronstadt’s career and impact upon music during the ’70s (with a bit of background history and her legacy included to round things out).

    At no point in the article does it say “LR is the victim of a music critic conspiracy.” If you do not care that much for Linda Ronstadt, you are certainly free to write your own article on your own website. Perhaps you might want to tackle the career of Janis Joplin.

    It is perfectly acceptable for Mr. Speranza to think Ms. Ronstadt has been looked over by music critics over the last few decades, just as it is acceptable for him to disagree with your clearly contrary opinion.

    If you think that by continuing to argue your point, the author — or this site in general — is going to retract the article, change the content, or concede some sort of “victory” for you, you’re mistaken. This isn’t that kind of website.

    Thanks for your time,
    Less Lee Moore, Managing Editor

  13. Partridge:
    December 9th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Random disjointed thoughts….

    As far as being safe and middle of the road– many rock singers that have great voices have to show them off exploring music other than hard rock. Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, great artists, did a lot of soft rock if you want to call it that. And they both, especially Elvis, did a lot of music that should never have been released.

    And while it’s true that the critics love an artist who’s a songwriter, and maybe the Hall of Fame board too. They did make an exception for Bonnie Raitt though. Even she said they just needed a woman in the hall and she made the cut. They overlooked the fact that most of Bonnie’s music in the ’70s was very similar to Ronstadt’s- and she wrote very little of her own material. Bonnie and Linda both relied on the same stable of songwriting talent. And Bonnie finally made that commercial breakthrough how? By recording middle of the road music. I love Bonnie by the way- she’s right up there with Linda in my book.

    Still, I can not think of any other artist, male or female, who can sing well in so many styles as Ronstadt. Surely that does work against her in some ways. But that is Linda- she does not compromise as you say- she records and sings what she wants to– not what the record company tells her they want. And for about twenty years her instincts worked. Then in the last couple of decades the wandering from style to style took its toll on the audience and radio support had vanished. Of course Linda doesn’t help her own case. She doesn’t brag on her accomplishments; she minimizes them, and is far too critical of her own music, especially the rock era. And she insisted for years on pushing those standards in concert and ignoring her great pop/rock catalog, driving the rock audiences away. (I’m still befuddled that she traveled to Hawaii for a festival with the Steve Miller band and played her Nelson Riddle music instead of rock’n’roll.)

    I think the troll that keeps posting here has some deep set opinions of Linda’s music… I’m not sure he is really familiar with it. But it is really unncecessary to spam a discussion the way he does. Gather your thoughts, make your opinion known, and move on. Having the last word doesn’t make him right. There are several artists I really detest, but I have never sought out a discussion forum for the sole purpose of bashing them. I prefer to ignore them.

    Linda is dismissed as “only a hitmaker” by some but I hear more critical acclaim for some one-hit wonders who are perceived to have had great influence. As for Hall of Fame, there are undoubtedly others not in who are even more deserving than Ronstadt. So what! There are some already in who are less deserving.

  14. David Speranza:
    December 9th, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Well said, Partridge (and Less Lee). For what it’s worth, I wrote the article not because I’m a longtime Ronstadt champion with a Cause, but because when I look back at the 1970s I remember how much a part of them she was–and how little she’s talked about today. It seemed that a corrective of some kind was in order. Along with being able to share what I learned while researching this, I got to rediscover a bunch of great music: Linda’s songs are once again on my heavy-rotation playlist. Long live the cowbell! -David

  15. Bob W.:
    December 12th, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    I would say Linda’s career was not commercially safe. She did two albums with Philip Glass, doing all the vocals for one- which consisted of only oohs and aahs. Early in her career, she was involved in an avant-garde jazz project. She collaborated with a famous (in Bulgaria) Bulgarian folk singer. Even the most MOR thing she has done, the Nelson Riddle sessions, were certainly not safe. Her record company considered them career suicide, but they were all critical and commercial successes. The first mariachi album was a huge gamble- at the time no one suspected it would become the best-selling non-English-language album ever. She has worked with a who’s who of artists, both popular and obscure. Those cuts alone would make a great box set.

    Linda was creative! Songwriting is not the only avenue of creativity. She has shown creativity in her music arrangements and in her production, both of her own albums and a handful of other artists, among them David Lindley and Aaron Neville.

    The main reason Linda isn’t talked about today is because she chose to stay out of the public eye for too many years. She hasn’t had a publicist or manager since the late ’90s. There has been no one out there pushing her agenda or fighting to get her included in the star wars. And of course, there is that conspiracy against her.

    As far as “the critic’s” opinion of Linda over the years, that seems to be pretty solid. Her albums generally get a great majority of positive reviews, even in Rolling Stone. The only critic I can cite who consistently rags her projects is Dave Marsh, who has a bug up his behind because of political differences with Ronstadt. He even stated as much in Playboy Magazine.

  16. Jack:
    December 13th, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Linda is certainly as deserving of Career Recognition as many artists from the ’70’s. By simply her choice of music, she changed the way I considered it and what it could mean in my life. Gershwin, Zevon, Costello were all introduced to me through her beautiful interpretations. I don’t know one opera singer who has written their own music, so why is Linda criticized for not penning hers? Ah yes, she’s a woman. Macho critics can’t handle that. So glad she is still using her voice to introduce people to the wonders of all kinds of music.

  17. Gregito:
    December 13th, 2011 at 12:58 am

    Excellent article. If we look at LR’s body of work as a singer– that’s what she is– and the tremendous variety therein it should be fairly evident that her contributions are unique. There has to be room in the RR hall of fame for people who can use their vocal talent to make us feel the words. Her commercial success as a female soloist had to have impacted the shape of music and it also stands to reason that to survive across so many genres for decades is only possible if you are amongst the very best. And that is what the RR Hall of fame is for. Happy Holidays too!

  18. alex:
    December 13th, 2011 at 1:45 am

    I think that so much that is missing in these mussings on Ronstadt is her own intelligent understanding of music, how it works with the culture and how it serves us, her own understading of her place in the culture….more importantly her unwillingness to be seen as a STAR, SUPERSTAR, or LEGEND. I think that so much of the accolades that are given , are often sought, Linda never wanted a place on Rushmore.
    She has taken herself away, awards for a lifetime are given by a reluctant, passive agressive mother that wont give without knowing you are gonna show up with all the necessary trappings, Ronstadt has only been consistent in refusing to do what should be expected of her. Ronstadt is very critical of the marketed image of an artist and to her (financial) disservice she has only explored what held her curiosity. This makes her one of the most intresting figures in pop culture and why she deserves to be celebrated, also why she wont be.

  19. alex:
    December 13th, 2011 at 2:11 am

    I also think that it is worth observing that Linda Ronstadt being seen as the First woman to sell ….., has more to do with her struggle to be able to conrol her aim, rather than her aim being decided by others. Here, I think, is where her trail is ablaze, she eventually called the shots for her future. Janis Joplin, by all accounts, was a victim of what the record business needed her to be, I think this is truely where Linda changed things for other women. She often spoke of the struggle for control while keeping her femininty in tact, she had a feminine product that was at once attractive to men and women, she fought to conrol her image more than any other woman before, giving way to the next woman.

  20. Anita:
    December 13th, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Before 1974, I only listened to male singers. I just liked the strength in the male voices I heard more than the female voices. Then one day, in 1974, a friend said to me, “Why don’t you listen to Linda Ronstadt, you might like her.” I bought “Heart Like A Wheel,” and ever since then, I have never found a female singer I like better. She’s also very versatile. And she’s real, not a phony. I got to meet her in the 90’s when she was autographing her new album on lullabies. I thanked her for all the beautiful music, and she responded “Thanks for listening.” It was short but I loved it.

  21. don king:
    December 14th, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Thanks for the article,,I have long been perplexed by Ronstadt not getting the acknowledgement she truly deserves, the facts are the facts. Ronstadt is an artist who did it all and longer and better than most,,not sure why some people are so against admitting it. I love Janis Joplin but the article is about Ronstadt so what is your point???

  22. fernando martinez:
    December 15th, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    I wish I could have seen her live. I just found her music and I love her songs. I’m wondering if she still sings live it would be great to see her live!

  23. Steve:
    December 16th, 2011 at 4:47 am

    Great article, David. I think you have expressed the feelings of many of us who grew up in the 1970s listening to Linda’s music on the radio. I too was 14 the first time I remember hearing a Ronstadt song, but the year was 1970 and the song was Long Long Time. It made a big impression on me the first time I heard it. Now 41 years later i’m still a fan of this remarkable woman. I understand she is working on her autobiography for Simon & Schuster, scheduled for release in 2013. Should be an interesting read.

  24. Jo:
    December 18th, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Linda was the first female to recieve four platium albums in a row, plus has the biggest sell non english album of all time, 10 time grammy winner, she was the first white person to sing a motown song. I think she broke some new ground.

  25. Adrian:
    December 18th, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Linda is and always will be my favorite singer, period! I admire her talent, politics and advocacy! She also came in at # 93 in Men’s Health 100 Hottest Women/All Time. From what I read about her, she shuns the spotlight. Class act all the way.

  26. Michael:
    December 23rd, 2011 at 2:19 am

    Thank you so much for this article I grinned when I read the comments describing when they first heard Linda. May I share mine?

    1975: I was 9 years old. I had a broken leg and was always in the car with my stepmom. “When Will I Be Loved” was on the radio every single time we got in that car! At first I hated it. Then, I fell in love with that honeyed, sexy, deep soprano, country-twang voice. My stepmom said, “Why don’t we buy the single?” That same night she was on The Smothers Brothers TV show – and performed that song! That’s when I saw how pretty she was. I’ve been hooked ever since.

    Have seen her in concert at least 15 times, met her three times, and just genuinely love listening to her amazing voice. I would never dis her for her politics, artistry, or incredible ability to sidestep convention and blaze her own trail — but, secretly, honestly, I do wish she’d be a little more interested in stardom and looking more like the true diva (in a good way) that she is.

    Again, thank you. I posted this article to my Facebook page to show all my friends – who tease me for liking Linda so much – why she matters.

  27. David Speranza:
    December 23rd, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Some really nice comments. I’m so pleased people are enjoying this article. It was fun to write, and I can only hope that in some small way it helps jog the collective memory of Linda’s role in 1970s rock and pop.

  28. Bobby:
    January 1st, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Linda Ronstadt is THE MOST VERSATILE singer, male or female in the history of music. She can simply sing anything and make it sound better than it has ever sounded. As evidenced by some of the nastier people replying to this article, she has her critics but those critics are usually tone deaf, musically challenged wanna-bes who still think Bob Dylan or Carol King are good singers.

    Thank you Linda Ronstadt for such inspiration and such heart felt emotion that you’ve brought to everything you’ve ever sung.

    If there is any justice you’ll be inducted into the R&R Hall Of Fame soon and get the credit you deserve.

  29. Freddie:
    January 3rd, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Great article! I think that most who criticize Linda’s music only hear the hits being played on radio.To fully understand and appreciate her is to listen to those great albums.Some of her best gems are album cuts never released as singles.Not to mention her live performances.As great as she was in the 70’s,she’s also the only singer I know who’s voice actually sounded better with each passing decade! Listen to her 90’s albums,especially We Ran from 1998.She goes from folk to jazz to rock to pop to country/rock and never misses a beat!Noboby does it better.Period.

  30. Rick:
    January 21st, 2012 at 1:02 am

    I guess you could call me one of Linda’s dedicated fans. I first heard the song Don’t Cry Now and from that point on, I was hooked. In my opinion, she simply has the BEST voice, she’s a great interpreter of music and she RULED the 70’s. I totally agree with Bobby. She can sing anything and make it better than anyone else. No matter what the critics may think, her music and that perfect voice will live on!

  31. Pat DeVitto:
    January 21st, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Fervor rathen than fury.Although…

    Most important is Ronstadt. THE singer. THE singer.

    She makes me smile. She makes me cry (happily).

  32. Tony Potenza:
    February 8th, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Truly amazing looking back.Cue up an album and while it is playing try and name a female vocalist that has recorded more tuneful music.even her covers would have been hits on their own.Linda can belt it out with anybody,and in a younger body easily win american idol or the voice or any competition out there.her songs are timeless in their simple greatness.Man oh Man her cover photos exude that 70’s sexiness that disappeared in the 80’s.

  33. Jonathan:
    February 8th, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    The truth is that she had one of the 2 or 3 greatest voices that ever sang rock music. That alone should get her inducted. Rolling Stone was her biggest fan in the 70s and often remarked on her greatness. Their rewriting history now is ridiculous. If you listen to any country music today you realize it couldn’t have existed in its present form without Linda Ronstadt. I would contend for that fact alone she is way more influential than a lot of critical darlings who basically rocked into old age and looked like fools doing it. Linda never looked like a fool and she refuses to perform in public anymore because she says the power she had is gone and that is what people pay for when they come to hear her. My last comment is that I agree with the other comments about her life performances. The voice was so enormous and beautiful that it was almost hard to believe live. I remember when VH1 did their list of the 100 most influential women in rock (she came out at number 21) almost every other singer interviewed about her said that she had the most beautiful voice they’d ever heard. There is no requirement that rock singers sound ugly or like they’re destroying their voices (to that end, sorry but Kelly Clarkson is a better singer than Adele, who has no idea what she’s doing at all).

    Lastly, there was no transition into stadiums for women in the 70s. She was the ONLY woman solo singer selling out arenas and stadiums in the 70s. And the only one who managed after her was Pat Benatar for awhile. I think her omission from the HOF is ridiculous.

  34. Jonathan:
    February 8th, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    One last thing. Linda’s career predated that of Stevie Nicks. She was also a contemporary and friend of Janis Joplin. Joplin didn’t have near the commercial success of Ronstadt until after she died. That’s just a fact.

  35. Richard:
    February 11th, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Ronstadt’s voice is second to none. One of, if not thee greatest female pop/rock vocalists the music industry has ever known. The fact she made hits of her own…..actually better versions…..than the originals, speaks volumes. Bottom line…..Rolling Stone is irrevelant, Winston…..a Rolling Stone wanna be “avant garde” rock critic is irrevelant. Trust your ears folks, she’s got it all there. Always has always will. Winston……jelousy’s a bitch aint it.

  36. Marie Gavis:
    February 14th, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    My 84 year old sister and her 91 year old husband heard a song by Linda Ronstadt in Latin, and they both just loved it, I’ve been trying to find it for them but was told that it was only on a 45 vinyl, I’ve check with so many Latin Music Stores but no one can find it I’d love to get it for their 66 wedding aniverary I was only 2 when they got married at her 17 and him 24, and this song means so much to them if any one could help me PLEASE do,
    Thank you
    Marie Gavis

  37. Marie:
    February 16th, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    This was a great article. Linda Ronstadt was a major part of the 70s musical landscape for me, and she is and will always be my favorite female voice in any genre. I first heard and loved her voice with “Different Drum,” but she became an artist I always sought out after “Long Long Time.” I remember thinking how much her music and voice had matured when I bought “Don’t Cry Now” and how blown away I was when “Heart Like a Wheel” came out. She lost me, though, when she started with the standards, although I bought the albums for my father. But Linda was one of the most important musical artists for me of the 70s, and I really don’t understand this continued denial of her entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Then again, I also don’t understand how The Moody Blues have been denied either. These two omissions just make me think the RRHOF is just a silly thing created and maintained by control freaks and isn’t worth my notice.

    Just a note for the author: “. . . it’s surprising how many country artists regularly scaled the pop charts in the early 1970s. Along with John Denver . . .” With all due respect, you must not be very familiar with John Denver. He was never a country artist. His roots were all folk music from the beginning, and his albums were in no way country. The exception was “Back Home Again” which spawned the popular single “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” and “Grandma’s Feather Bed,” but his songs were all a combo of folk/pop and what I think of as entirely his own style that didn’t really fall within a particular genre. Just because an artist includes a song or two from a particular genre on an album doesn’t make him a artist OF that genre. Ronstadt included many more truly country songs on her albums than Denver did, but she certainly wasn’t a country artist.

  38. Popshifter:
    February 17th, 2012 at 11:24 am


    I think you might be referring to the version of “Crying” by Rebekah Del Rio that is sung in the film MULHOLLAND DRIVE. You can find the song on the MULHOLLAND DRIVE soundtrack or on one of Miss Del Rio’s albums. Here’s her website with more info: Good luck!

    Thanks for writing.


  39. John Denver fan:
    February 21st, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    The lines between country and pop or folk were blurred in the ’70s. This blogger is absolutely correct to classify John Denver as a country singer. John Denver’s Back Home Again was the #1 Country Album of the year- according to Billboard. The #2 Country Album of the year that year was Heart Like a Wheel by Linda Ronstadt. I guess since Billboard charts classified them as country singers, they are “country.”

  40. Bill:
    March 9th, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    One thing that has struck me about Linda is that no matter who else is on the stage she always takes command and makes it seem effortless. When you look at or listen to the tribute concerts for Lowell George and Nicolette Larson there was a lot of extraordinary talent on those stages but it’s Linda’s singing that always seems to stand out and be remembered.

  41. Derek:
    March 29th, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Ok let’s straighten out a thing or two,

    Was Linda Rondstadt a great success at one point, yes. Was she a success because she shunned the spotlight or because she kept her image solid? In my opinion no. She started out on the right track in the beginning with her brothers and continued on it until she decided to become “popular”. She sold out to conventional wisdom that to be famous you had to take what was popular for the day and make it your own. Many have done this and the amount of success they have is not determined by if they are an excellent artist, it’s determined by their willingness to submit to the status quo. When Rondstadt did this she lowered herself to the level that record producers wanted and indeed experienced dramatic successes, but as with anyone who has enjoyed this experience (Peter Frampton, Michael Bolton etc etc ad nausea m) There is sudden crash and fall when people realize that you relied on other people laying the ground work for your music and you riding the coat tails. Do artists sometimes cover other peoples music? Of course it’s never a bad idea to work with some one else’s arrangement all bands do at some time or another. Is it a good idea to make a whole album of them? Not hardly… Her “hits” are those that others did long before her and she received the successes based on the ground work already being lain. After that period of time she went back to her roots and she proceeded to do amazing things, she should be granted pardon for those years and be praised for her incredible work since then. That goes back to the question, does she belong in the Rock and Roll hall of fame… (I’d have to say no). To me she may belong in a hall of fame, but rock and roll would not be it because her years as a rock artists are tainted by the fact that she gave into the industry (as much as someone claimed Janis did) by being a superstar and a symbol). She finally woke up and has herself dismissed that era as not her best work. Who are you to argue with her? Who are you to argue with anyone voicing an opinion you don’t like? I know that free speech isn’t protected on every forum and I respect that, but it seems rather lame IMO for someone to say that someone else’s opinion on the subject matter at hand doesn’t matter because this is not that type of website. If that’s the case this will be the first and last post you will ever see from me here. Otherwise I can respect that some want to see Linda celebrated for her talent, that I am fine with… as long as it is the right context… off my soapbox now….

  42. Popshifter:
    March 29th, 2012 at 3:50 pm


    I’m fairly certain that no one here needs straightening out but let me say something.

    You wrote, “I know that free speech isn’t protected on every forum and I respect that, but it seems rather lame IMO for someone to say that someone else’s opinion on the subject matter at hand doesn’t matter because this is not that type of website.”

    I never said “someone else’s opinion doesn’t matter because this isn’t that type of website.” What I said (which is found easily by scrolling up, copying, and pasting) was this:

    “If you think that by continuing to argue your point, the author — or this site in general — is going to retract the article, change the content, or concede some sort of ‘victory’ for you, you’re mistaken. This isn’t that kind of website.”

    What that implied was that we don’t allow pointless arguments, a.k.a. trolling, on

    Thanks for your time,

  43. Charles P Miller:
    March 29th, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Linda is one of my all time favorites. I have seen her many times. I wish she would see this posting and know how much I would love to hear that a new recording was in the works! There is room for a new album on my shelf. I am glad to read that she’s writing her story.

  44. Popshifter:
    March 29th, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    One more thing with regard to your statement on “free speech” not being “protected on every forum”:

    The First Amendment to the US Constitution grants citizens the right to have certain types of speech free from government interference. As a private citizen I do not have to grant that right. For an explanation of how this works, please read this link.

    Thanks again,

  45. Derek:
    March 30th, 2012 at 12:01 pm


    You make a good point, and I guess I wasn’t referring to free speech in the sense of government as much as I was referring to the idea of speaking freely even when an opinion is disagreed with, some websites will let people argue points into the ground. Some the moment there is any differing opinion the author is shot down. flamed or banned. Now truthfully this is all well and good because the governmental law of free speech doesn’t protect the rights of an individual on a private forum (which I respect) :however, none the less it speaks realms of a persons personality for when they decide to cross that line between moderator and dictator on a private website forum. That said I understand your point and desire to keep things positive, as I mentioned I don’t think that Linda is undeserving of recognition, I just think the rock and roll hall of fame isn’t the place for it. Off my soap box again lol…

  46. Derek:
    March 30th, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    oops meant Popshifter, sorry wasn’t trying to be derogatory just a typo 🙂

  47. Micky:
    April 10th, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Que bonita voz, que bella interpretación… siempre estar{e enamorado de tu estilo y tu fuerza interpretativa. Gracias por darme una bella juventud acompañado de tu voz, así como de las voces de contemporáneos tuyos. Cariños por siempre.

  48. Rob Jones:
    April 19th, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    I loved Linda’s music back in the 70’s and I still love it just as much today. What’s more, my kids also love her. It’s a shame that she hasn’t gotten the official recognition that she deserves. But her music will carry down through the ages and will never be forgotten. I firmly believe that people will be enjoying her songs long after Rolling Stone is dead and forgotten.

  49. What is taking so long?:
    May 22nd, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    It is laughable that critics and rock revisionists come up with all sorts of reasons to denigrate the great Linda Ronstadt.

    Like an endlessly repeated refrain, they criticize her “middle of the road” musical choices while bestowing praise upon “chameleons” like David Bowie and Madonna. Both are great in their own right, but neither would have dared to venture out of pop and rock as Ronstadt did to make albums of American standards, Country, Mexican, Cuban, operetta, folk et al. Ronstadt has made edgy choices and succeeded. She is not a “middle-of-the-road” artist.

    And I can think of no other superstar like Linda who generously pushed the careers of other artists – The Eagles, Karla Bonoff, Warren Zevon, Elvis Costello, Andrew Gold, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Little Feat and the resurgence of Aaron Neville, to name a few.

    And yes, Ronstadt was a trailblazer. Not Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Janis Joplin, Carole King, or even pop superstars Olivia Newton-John and Barbra Streisand were able to consistently sell out stadiums and arenas on tours the way Ronstadt did.

    And to address Linda Ronstadt’s critics who complain that she didn’t write her own music or covered music of newsflash – the great artists who did not write all of their own music and remade older hits from other artists into new ones for themselves include Robert Plant, Elvis Presley, The Pretenders, Elton John, Donna Summer, James Taylor, The Eagles, Aretha Franklin, Cheap Trick, Pat Benatar, Heart, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Mick Jagger, Stevie Nicks, Bruce Springsteen, Joan Jett, Blondie, The Grateful Dead, The Doobie Brothers, etc…Other greats and supposed pop greats including Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Barbara Streisand, Cher, Frank Sinatra, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Madonna, and current superstars like Beyonce have not written all their own music either.

    Linda Ronstadt IS Rock ‘n Roll and deserves to bin the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. It is disgraceful that she wasn’t inducted years ago:

    “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me”
    “Can’t Let Go”
    “Hurts So Bad”
    “That’ll Be the Day”
    “You’re No Good”
    “Tumbling Dice”
    “Livin’ In the USA”
    “Just One Look”
    “It’s So Easy”
    “How Do I Make You?”
    “Get Closer”
    “All That You Dream”
    “Mad Love”…
    …the list goes on.

    One more thing, as of 2011, despite Linda Ronstadt’s hitting the music charts beginning in the late 1960s, Linda Ronstadt is still not in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Nor is Carole King (she is in only as songwriter), Cher, Bette Midler, Heart, Donna Summer, Stevie Nicks (solo work), Pat Benatar, or Joan Jett.

  50. It's about time:
    November 16th, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    It’s 2013 and Lind Ronstadt is still not in the Rock’nRoll Hall of Fame. WTF? Nor our Stevie Nicks(solo), Pat Benatar, Heart, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Carly Simon, and so many more. Why aren’t there more rock and pops singers in?

  51. Randy Hall:
    April 30th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Hall of Fame, Shame or No Claim, Linda Rondstadt has the best voice this side of heaven I have ever hear. No straining like the starlets of today. Her and Aaron Neville together are without doubt in my book the best duo ever!!!
    Randy Hall

  52. W.H.:
    June 28th, 2013 at 3:48 am

    Linda Ronstadt has a beautiful voice and she made a ton of good music. There is a reason why her fans are so devoted and I am certainly one of them. It’s impressive if singers are talented at songwriting as well but it certainly isn’t a requirement. Linda’s live recordings sound as good as studio recordings and that is rare.

  53. What took so long:
    March 23rd, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Well, it’s 2014 and after she went public with her Parkinson’s Disease, the Rolling Stone crowd is finally inducting her into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. 46 years after her first hit, the folk rock classic “Different Drum .” It took them so long that Ronstadt can’t even sing anymore.

    Hopefully, that won’t be the case with other 1970s superstars who still are not in the Hall of fame like Stevie Nicks (solo), Pat Benatar , Carly Simon, Joan Jett, Carole King, Sonny & Cher, Tina Turner ( solo), Bette Midler, and pop-rockers Olivia Newton-John, Rita Coolidge, Diana Ross, and Helen Reddy.

  54. What's taking so long?:
    April 6th, 2014 at 11:11 am

    I have no problem with non-conventional rock singers like Aretha Franklin, Donna Summer, ABBA, Madonna et al being in the RRHOF, nor later artists like U2 and Nirvana. But I have a problem with rock queens Stevie Nicks (solo career), Pat Benatar, Joan Jett, Tina Turner and even other pop rock females like Cher, Olivia Newton-john, Carole King, Diana Ross not even being nominated. What’s worse is that Ronstadt, was at a time the biggest rock star of the 1970s, and is still in the top best- selling female singers of all time. And yet, it took the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and Rolling Stone 47 years after her first hit to nominate her, only after she announced her Parkinson’s diagnosis. It took so long that she can’t even sing anymore. I hope Stevie, Pat, Joan and others have better luck than Linda Ronstadt and Donna Summer did.

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