Linda Ronstadt Rocks Warren Zevon

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Ronstadt Touring Band 1977

Ronstadt’s 1977 touring band: (L to R): Dan Dugmore, Andrew Gold, Waddy Wachtel, Ronstadt, Kenny Edwards and Rick Marotta, via waddywachtelinfo.com

So who were the top female classic rockers in the Seventies? Ann and Nancy Wilson for sure. Pat Benatar and Chrissie Hynde just make it since their debut albums arrived in 1979. Patti Smith? You bet. Joan Jett with the Runaways and Debbie Harry of Blondie? Sure. Janis passed away in 1970. Stevie Nicks and Grace Slick? Absolutely. Any list must also include three of the biggest: Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and Carole King.

And then there was Linda Ronstadt.

While her output ranged from a variety of musical genres – heck, she had four #1 Country Albums – when she chose to belt out a rock song, she was truly in a class by herself. At various times her band featured Waddy Wachtel, Andrew Gold, the Eagles, Leland Sklar, and Russ Kunkel, among others. And we’ll leave out the part about how damn sexy she was. (Oops…)

This ad appeared in the Feb. 4, 1978 issue of Record World magazine

Her first hit was with the Stone Poneys with their 1967 single “Different Drum.” (If you knew it was written by a pre-Monkees Michael Nesmith, raise your hand.) Ronstadt, born July 15, 1946, was just 21 years old when the song reached #13 on the Hot 100 in February 1968.

Her first solo album was released in 1969 but it wasn’t until 1973’s Don’t Cry Now (with such covers as “Desperado” and “Sail Away”) that she began to earn chart success. A year later, she delivered Heart Like a Wheel with two back-to-back smash singles: the #1 “You’re No Good” and #2 “When Will I Be Loved.” She was on her way.

Singles like “Heat Wave,” “The Tracks of My Tears” and “That’ll Be the Day” followed. 1977’s Simple Dreams yielded three more hits including the Top 5 singles “Blue Bayou” and “It’s So Easy” plus a cover of Warren Zevon’s “Poor Poor Pitiful Me.”

The latter debuted at #70 on Jan. 28, 1978, on the U.S. singles chart, ultimately peaking at just #31.

Watch our Classic Video of her performing “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta in 1977

Related: Read our rare interviews with Ronstadt, Part 1 about her career, and Part 2 about the Eagles start and the SoCal music scene

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  1. Ronstadt matters
    #1 Ronstadt matters 6 February, 2018, 22:10

    Queen of Rock. Rolling Stone revisionists came close to erasing and marginalizing her Rock ‘n Roll legacy. Woefully underrated by the rock critics but respected in her many other genres. Sold over 100 million records, worth about $120M. Still in the American Top Ten female solo bestselling artists.

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    • Thiinkerly1
      Thiinkerly1 9 May, 2019, 04:31

      Absolutely. She was named the Queen of Rock and Roll by Rolling Stone, Time, People, and other media. Those rags featured scores of articles about her. She sold more records than any woman, and was the first woman to fill stadiums. She was revered by country and rock singers, and asked to sing on dozens of sessions. Several country stars and rock stars wrote songs about her. And yet Rolling Stone hasn’t seen fit to include her in its Top 100 Rock Singers list — because she strayed. She did the American Songbook. Country. And — God forbid — Mexican and other Spanish music. BTW, all of those efforts sold millions of records and garnered Grammys and other awards.

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  2. JCB
    #2 JCB 29 January, 2020, 07:57

    Saw her live in 77, 78 and 99. Her bands were absolutely incredible every time I saw her. Basically R+R legends, each and every one. Nobody sang like Linda before, or after. Her voice has no peer, period. The greatest singer of her generation and it isn’t close.

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  3. The Saguaro
    #3 The Saguaro 3 November, 2020, 09:50

    I saw her at a 1978 Jerry Brown for President concert in Las Vegas where she opened for the Eagles. It was a stunning performance, especially when, for her encore, she introduced her boyfriend, Jerry B., and did the song “My Boyfriend is Back In Town”. Absolutely outstanding (especially since our seats were only 10 rows back).

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