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Left Coast / Right Coast: Linda Ronstadt and other powerful women recording artists

Linda Ronstadt was admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 – about 20 years after she was eligible. Frankly, to me, this was an outrage. I think she should have been admitted in her first year of eligibility.
Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Frank Hammer.

By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur "living the dream in the Pacific Northwest."

Linda Ronstadt was admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 – about 20 years after she was eligible. Frankly, to me, this was an outrage. I think she should have been admitted in her first year of eligibility.  

Linda had one of the most powerful voices for a woman singer. While she did not write many of her own songs, she had the knack of selecting songs that she could “make her own.” In other words, the sheer power of her voice and style would make the recording a hit. 

One excellent example is her hit “When Will I be Loved.” In fact, the song was a hit for the Everly Brothers (circa the 1950’s). To me, no comparison. It is a perfect example of her taking a song, which was already a hit a decade or more earlier and just singing the hell out of it.

During her inauguration ceremony, they had a group of well-known famous women singers perform her hits as an homage to her. Here is Carrie Underwood performing it at Linda’s inauguration ceremony.

At this ceremony, Cheryl Crow “covered” her monster hit: "You’re no good." Now Cheryl also has a monster voice. But when you listen to her version, you can tell the difference – her hitting the high notes appears a bit of a strain – while Linda’s version of the song she just belts it out almost effortlessly. Here is Linda – in her prime in the 1970’s

Similarly, here is Stevie Nicks covering Linda's (in my opinion) best hit, "It’s so Easy to Fall in Love. Ms. Nicks, in case you don’t recognize the name was the lead singer of Fleetwood Mac.

Also on stage during these homage performances is Bonnie Raitt – a well known folk and blues singer, and Glenn Frey – who is one of the founders of The Eagles. In fact, The Eagles recorded a version of the great ballad “Desperado.” Linda Ronstadt also recorded her own version. You tell me which version you like better. The Eagles version or Linda Ronstadt’s version. To me the power and tone of Ronstadt’s voice makes the recording more poignant.

Unfortunately, Linda was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. She decided that she was not only no longer able to sing, but physically she doesn’t have the energy (at age 73) to even spend time in public.

At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, she was unable to make an appearance. One of the treatments for the disease is the use of steroids – which Linda is taking. One of the side effects of the use of steroids is having one’s face get fatter. Here is a relatively current photo of her post treatment. 

There is both a movie and a documentary about Laurel Canyon. A place in Los Angeles. Seems many of the powerful groups that relocated to LA to pursue record contracts (many recording labels were and still are based in LA.) Here is the link to the movie: "Echo in the Canyon." The movie features Jacob Dylan – (yes Bob Dylan’s son). He has put together a very good “cover” band and during the movie they perform hits from each of the groups chronicled in the movie.

The “made for TV” documentary "Laurel Canyon" covers several generations of groups. Among the first are the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield. The later groups include The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and many others. 

The film also covers the Manson murders – which occurred in a rented house in Laurel Canyon – just doors away from some famous bands.

David Crosby talks in the film about how after the murders he went out and purchased his first gun.

You can tell watching the film that both the filmmakers and the groups hated the loss of innocence post Manson that changed the gestalt of the area. Sad.

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