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Linda Ronstadt, Queen Of Rock In The '70s, Then And Now

Music | August 6, 2018

Left: Photo of Linda Ronstadt circa 1970 Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images. Roght: Ronstadt on the cover of her 1978 album 'Living In The USA.' Source: discogs.com

They called Linda Ronstadt the "Queen of Rock" in the '70s, but the name is a little limiting. Ronstadt has recorded and performed in just about every genre during her career -- not just rock, but vocal jazz, country, and Latin. The ten-time Grammy Award winner has worked with musicians all acoss the spectrum, from rockers like Neil Young and Frank Zappa to bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs and composer Philip Glass. From more than 30 studio albums, she has placed 38 songs in the Billboard Hot 100.

In 1978, Linda Ronstadt was the highest paid woman in rock, with solo platinum records to her name and sold-out stadium shows.

Is it even possible that the celebrated Linda Ronstadt is in her 70s? Yikes! Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday that she was entertaining audiences on the Sunset Strip. There have been many twists and turns throughout the years of her successful music career.  

Linda Ronstadt grew up with her family on a ranch in Arizona. The Ronstadt family was musically inclined and rooted in tradition, which is where she drew her inspiration. Together, the family listened to and sang a wide variety of music genres including Mexican music, which was said to have been a “staple” in their lives.

Linda Ronstadt Seemed Destined For Success In Music

Ronstadt told Debbie Kruger, “I don’t record (any type of genre of music) that I didn’t hear in my family’s living room by the time I was 10. It just is my rule that I don’t break because… I can’t do it authentically… I really think that you’re just hard-wiring … in your brain up until the age of maybe 12 or 10, and there are certain things you can’t learn in an authentic way after that.”

Music genres that Linda Ronstadt has recorded throughout her career include rock and roll, jazz, R&B, gospel, opera, country, choral and mariachi. These comprise the music she was exposed to up until the age of 10.  

Linda Ronstadt's First Band Was The Stone Poneys

Linda Ronstadt with the Stone Poneys. Source: pinterest

Linda Ronstadt had the world at her fingertips beginning in the mid-60s as the lead singer with The Stone Poneys.

Ronstadt’s life and epic career played out in front of countless audiences and have been defined in the photos chronicling her success. Her career emerged in the mid-60s with her then-signature folksy style of music. Ronstadt was the lead singer in the group, The Stone Poneys, along with vocalist/guitarist, Bobby Kimmel and lead guitarist, Kenny Edwards.

From her early years California’s Sunset Strip, all the way to Retirement, Linda Ronstadt has wowed her audiences!

Ronstadt Owned The 1970s

Ronstadt’s second Solo Album, Silk Purse, was Released in 1970.

After performing with The Stone Poneys from 1965 to 1968, Linda Ronstadt began her solo career in 1969. At the beginning of her solo career, she performed vocals for television commercials. One, in particular, was for Remington Razors, in which Frank Zappa made some successful marketing claims for the brand.

To her credit, Ronstadt has released some chart-topping albums including Heart Like a Wheel, Simple Dreams and Living in the USA.

With these accomplishments under her belt, Linda Ronstadt became one of the highest grossing concert artists of her era. She set records that couldn’t be touched and was referred to as the “First Lady of Rock” and the “Queen of Rock.” During this time, Ronstadt was voted the Top Female Pop Singer of the 1970s.    

Ronstadt Shared The Stage With The Greats Of '70s Rock

Linda Ronstadt toured with the likes of the Eagles, Aaron Neville, the Doors, Jackson Browne, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Neil Young.

Ronstadt is no stranger to success. She toured with many of the groups that were front and center in the groovy era. Although she was also a songwriter, she made a bigger name for herself performing songs written by other songwriters. For this reason, although she has been extremely successful, she cannot claim a huge income from royalties.  

Linda Ronstadt, The Sex Symbol

Interior photo and the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, dated December 2, 1976, in which Ronstadt was profiled as "The Million Dollar Woman" by Cameron Crowe.

At the peak of her popularity in the late '70s, Ronstadt seemed to have the perfect combination. She was a veteran performer who could share the stage with anyone, her voice could tackle just about any musical genre, and her image as a fun rock chick was completely appealing to her fans. To put it in juvenile terms -- she was the pretty girl who could hang with the boys. 

"I don't know how good a sex symbol I am, but I do think I'm good at being sexy," she told New Times in 1977. "The sexual aspect of my personality has been played up a lot, and I can't say it hasn't been part of my success."

The Industry Has Honored Her Many Times Over

Ringo Starr, Linda Ronstadt and Paul Williams attending the Annual Grammy Awards in 1977.

Linda Ronstadt has earned the admiration of many fans and fellow artists over the years and has also been celebrated with many awards. She has 10 Grammy Awards, three American Music Awards, two Academy of Country Music Awards, an Alma Award and an Emmy Award. In addition to that, Ronstadt has many gold, platinum/multi-platinum albums. In 2011, she was awarded the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Linda Ronstadt also dabbled in acting on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in The Pirates of Penzance, in the '80s.

In 2014, Ronstadt was inducted into the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Often, we forget that celebrities are just regular people. Much like the rest of us, they are often faced with real-life and sometimes devastating circumstances. Linda Ronstadt was forced into retirement after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. She struggles with her condition but don’t count her out yet. Ronstadt is a person that sees the glass as half-full. She will make the most of her situation and do the best she can with it.

Linda Ronstadt Is An Icon

In 2019, Linda Ronstadt is on track to receive a joint star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris.

It is a fact that entertainers come and go. It is also a fact that great artists like Linda Ronstadt are definitely fixtures that have shaped the music world.

Tags: Celebrities When They Were Young | Linda Ronstadt | Models | The 1970s | Then And Now

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.