Linda Ronstadt began as the clear-voiced, country-influenced singer for ’60s folk-rockers the Stone Poneys, where she covered tunes by the likes of Mike Nesmith and Tim Buckley. That knack for choosing material served her well in the second half of the ’70s, when she became a pop superstar interpreting songs by everyone from Dave Edmunds and Elvis Costello to Chuck Berry and Roy Orbison. Subsequently, she has shown her diversity by cutting albums of jazz standards, traditional Mexican music, and pure country.
Ronstadt’s first two solo albums -- Hand Sown Home Grown (1969) and Silk Purse (1970) -- accentuated her country roots, featuring several honky tonk numbers. Released in 1971, her self-titled third album was a pivotal record in her career. Featuring a group of session musicians who would later form the Eagles, the album was a softer, more laid-back variation of the country-rock she had been recording. With the inclusion of songs from singer/songwriters like Jackson Browne, Neil Young, and Eric Anderson, Linda Ronstadt had folk-rock connections as well. Don’t Cry Now, released in 1973, followed the same formula to greater success, yet it was 1974′s Heart Like a Wheel that perfected the sound, making Ronstadt a star. Featuring the hit covers “You’re No Good,” “When Will I Be Loved,” and “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore,” Heart Like a Wheel reached number one and sold over two million copies.
Released in the fall of 1975, Prisoner in Disguise followed the same pattern as Heart Like a Wheel and was nearly as successful. Hasten Down the Wind, released in 1976, suggested a holding pattern, even if it charted higher than Prisoner in Disguise. Simple Dreams (1977) expanded the formula by adding a more rock-oriented supporting band, which breathed life into the Rolling Stones’ “Tumbling Dice” and Warren Zevon’s “Poor Poor Pitiful Me.” The record became the singer’s biggest hit, staying on the top of the charts for five weeks and selling over three million copies. With Living in the U.S.A. (1978), Ronstadt began experimenting with new wave, recording Elvis Costello’s “Alison”; the album was another number one hit.
Here is the official music video to “Blue Bayou” performed by Linda Ronstadt:
Other talented ladies who paved the way to make country music what it is today 👇