No silencing Linda Ronstadt, Rich Paschall
All through the 1970s, you could not leave your transistor radio on for long without hearing the distinctive voice of Linda Ronstadt. She emerged from her early time with The Stone Poneys from the mid-’60s as broke, from paying for much of their third and final album, but with a solo career emerging. Her cover of Mike Nesmith’s “Different Drum” became a hit and she was on her way.
After assembling a strong group of musicians and friends, she went ahead with both covers of songs from the 50s and ’60s as well as some new songs. The combination brought her hit after hit and made her one of the best-selling female artists of all time. She posted 10 top ten songs and one of her hottest was a cover of the Little Anthony and the Imperials song, Hurt So Bad,” which peaked in 1980.
In a career that lasted until 2011, Ronstadt sold over 100 million records and her voice can be heard on an astounding 120 albums. She has an impressive collection of awards, including 12 Grammys. She remained popular until her retirement in 2011 when she declared herself “100 percent retired.” While some walk away from their careers as they get older, it is always somewhat of a surprise when a famous person retires. You really expect them to come back at some point. That was never going to happen for Ronstadt, at least not as a singer
The problem was she could no longer sing. She was physically unable. In 2012 she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and in August 2013 the news was stated publically. Her induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame came too late in her career. In April 2014, the disease progressed to the point where she could not perform at her induction, or even attend. Her friends took her place on stage, singing out her biggest hits in tribute.
In July 2014, President Obama handed out twelve 2013 National Medals of Arts and Humanities, including one for Linda Ronstadt. This honor was not to be denied to her. She was brought to Washington and wheeled into the East Room by a military aide, but she stood and walked up to the President of the United States to receive her award “for her one-of-a-kind voice and her decades of remarkable music.” After the ceremony, President Obama admitted to the crowd, “I told Linda Ronstadt I had a crush on her back in the day.” It’s OK to admit that. Millions of others boys did too.
In 2019 she received the Kennedy Center Honors and again made the trip to receive the award. Stars paid tribute.
As she has done a few times in recent years, Linda sat down at the Kennedy Center for an interview about her long and illustrious career. It was cut short by disease but she has expressed peace with all that she accomplished.
That same year she contributed comments to the documentary “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound Of My Voice.” She won another Grammy for Best Music Film. It was awarded at the 63rd Grammys in 2021. The presentation had been delayed by the Coronavirus. In 2020 she worked on another documentary. “Linda and the Mockingbirds,” a road trip to Linda’s musical roots in Mexico. This month Linda Ronstadt turned 75.