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Biography of Linda Ronstadt

Quick Facts

Linda Ronstadt
Birth Date 
July 15, 1946
Place of Birth 
Tuscon, Arizona

Linda Ronstadt is a 11-time Grammy Award winner and superstar of both pop and country music. Her 1974 album, Heart Like a Wheel, sold more than 1 million copies.


Born in Arizona in 1946, Linda Ronstadt found success with her 1974 album, Heart Like a Wheel, which included such hits as "You're No Good" and "When Will I Be Loved." The album went platinum—selling more than 1 million copies—as did her next few projects, establishing her as a music superstar during the 1970s. She continued to experiment with different styles, such as in Adieu False Heart (2006), a Cajun-inspired work.In 2013, Ronstadt revealed that she could no longer sing because she had Parkinson's disease. She also published her memoir Simple Dreams that same year.

Early Life and Career

Singer Linda Ronstadt was born on July 15, 1946, in Tucson, Arizona, and grew up surrounded by music. One of Ronstadt's early musical influences was the Mexican songs her father taught her and her siblings. Her mother played the ukulele and her father played the guitar. Following in her father's footsteps, she learned to play guitar. She also performed with her brother and sister as a trio.

After graduating from Catalina High School, Ronstadt enrolled at the University of Arizona in Tucson where she met Bob Kimmel. The pair left college to move in Los Angeles where they formed the Stone Poneys with Kenny Edwards. This folk trio released their first album in 1967. The group enjoyed a modest success with their second album Evergreen Vol. 2, which was also released in 1967. Their only hit was "Different Drum," which was written by Michael Nesmith of the Monkees.

Hit Singer of the 1970s

By the end of the 1960s, Ronstadt had become a solo act. She put out several albums before finally landing on the charts with Heart Like a Wheel (1974). The album had several hits, including "You're No Good" and "When Will I Be Loved." The recording went platinum—meaning it sold more than one million copies. Ronstadt quickly became one of the music superstar of the 1970s.

In 1975, Ronstadt continued to enjoy success on the album charts with Prisoner in Disguise. The recording featured the Neil Young cover "Love Is a Rose" and her take on the Smokey Robinson classic "The Tracks of My Tears." With 1976's Hasten Down the Wind, Ronstadt took on the Buddy Holly classic "That'll Be the Day" and "Crazy" by Willie Nelson. Simple Dreams (1977) featured the Roy Orbison-penned "Blue Bayou," which became a major hit, along with her popular covers of Buddy Holly's "It's So Easy," Warren Zevon's "Poor Poor Pitiful Me," and The Rolling Stones' "Tumbing Dice."

Later Career

In the 1980s, Ronstadt tried her hand at pop standards. She worked with famed arranger Nelson Riddle, with whom she put out three albums: Lush Life (1982), What's New (1983) and For Sentimental Reasons (1986). She also explored her Hispanic heritage by recording a Spanish-language album, Canciones de Mi Padre (1987), which was filled with traditional Mexican songs like the ones her father loved. Two other Spanish-language albums followed: Mas Canciones (1990) and Frenesi (1992). In 1989, Ronstadt won a Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding individual performance in a variety or music program, for her work on the television series Great Performances (1970), which has been airing on PBS since the early 1970s.

Ronstadt continued to experiment with different musical styles. In collaboration with Ann Savoy, she took on Cajun music in her latest album Adieu False Heart (2006). Since then, Ronstadt has focused more on her personal life, choosing to spend more time with her family. She adopted two children, Clementine and Carlos, when she was in her early forties. For many years, she lived in her hometown of Tucson with her kids. She now lives in San Francisco. Despite relationships with former California governor Jerry Brown and filmmaker George Lucas, Ronstadt never married. She told The New York Times that "I'm very bad at compromise, and there's a lot of compromise in marriage."

In August 2013, Ronstadt revealed the reason she had been absent from the music scene in recent years. She has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which she says has prevented her from singing. "I couldn’t sing and I couldn’t figure out why," Ronstadt explained to "I think I’ve had it for seven or eight years already, because of the symptoms that I’ve had. Then I had a shoulder operation, so I thought that’s why my hands were trembling."

That fall, Ronstadt delved into other aspects of her life in her autobiography, Simple Dreams. The book follows her journey to becoming a music legend, but it does not touch on her illness. Despite the physical challenges she faces with Parkinson's, Ronstadt went out on a book tour to promote her memoir. The book provides readers with an inside look at her youth in Arizona, her early days in the L.A. music scene and her life as a pop star in the 1970s and 1980s.

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