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Linda Ronstadt

Posted by purplemary54 on August 26, 2013

Linda Ronstadt announced over the weekend that she has Parkinson’s Disease, and has lost her singing voice because of it.  I’m heartbroken.  Linda Ronstadt doesn’t get as much attention these days as a lot of the 70s SoCal artists because she didn’t generally writer her own songs, or play any instruments on stage.  She was just a singer, and a pretty one to boot.

Just a singer.

Linda Ronstadt is one of the great vocal stylists of her generation.  She could do rock, country, pop, big band, and just about anything else.  She chose the songs she sang, and made hits out of many songs that might’ve been otherwise forgotten.  She had the best musicians backing her up, and was responsible for launching quite a few careers.  I mean, you’ve heard of the Eagles, right?  They started out as Linda Ronstadt’s backup band.  To hear that she can no longer sing is something of a tragedy.  (It’s almost as awful to me as losing the great Julie Andrews’ voice because of a botched surgery.)

A lot of the attention she got from the press in the 70s and 80s was for who she dated, not her skills as a singer and performer.  (She always did have interesting taste in men, Jerry Brown and George Lucas among the most notable.)  But she continually reinvented herself as an artist.  When she tired of rock and pop, she collaborated with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra for a successful series of standards albums.  She joined friends Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris for the country collection Trio.  She even drew on her cultural and ethnic heritage, and sang traditional Mexican songs on Canciones de Mi Padre. Linda Ronstadt was never one to rest on her success.

Calling Linda Ronstadt just a singer does her, and all female vocalists of her caliber, a huge disservice.  Yeah, she was pretty and sexy (without ever being trashy, something a lot of women performers today should take a lesson from).  But her looks weren’t why she made it to the top of the charts so often.  You don’t have a career as long and varied as Linda Ronstadt’s without talent.

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