Linda Ronstadt was a founding member of a folk trio called the Stone Poney’s that formed in the mid-1960s. The group was composed of Linda, Bobby Kimmel, and Kenny Edwards and produced three albums with the last one coming out in 1968. Early on in their career it was clear to everyone that Linda was the star, so much so that Capitol Records wanted sign her to a solo contract rather than sign the band. As you can imagine, this was the source of more than a little tension in the band. Their biggest hit was a song called Different Drum that was written by Michael Nesmith of the Monkeys. Let’s listen……
I hope you were watching as well as listening so you can understand why me, and most of the other teenage boys back in 1967, were madly in love with Linda. To be that cute and to have that voice was truly too good to be true.
Linda finally went solo in 1969 signing with Capitol Records but she did not entirely abandon the Stone Poneys. Kenny Edwards became a long term collaborator. (Kenny passed away in 2010 and the music world lost a significant talent. RIP Kenny! If you are interested checkout a band called Bryndle. I will feature them in a future post.).
As a solo artist, Linda started to move toward the country rock sound that was beginning to take shape in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Let’s watch and listen to a couple of TV show appearances from that time so we can see her as we listen to her 🙂 First up is a 1969 appearance on the Johnny Cash show. This video is followed by a 1970 appearance on the Glen Campbell show.
I Will Never Marry (1969) with Johnny Cash
Long Long Time and Carolina In My Mind (1970 Glen Campbell show)
Linda’s first two solo albums on Capitol were named Hand Sown……Home Grown and Silk Purse. The first of these albums did not chart at all while the second album failed to break the top 100 in album sales. Silk Purse was redeemed, somewhat, when the single Long Long Time (one of the songs performed on the Glen Campbell clip above) broke into the the top 20.
While her albums were suffering from a sales perspective, her live performances were much more successful. Trying to build on this success, Linda hired Glenn Frey (from Longbranch Pennywhistle) to put together a new band for touring and for her third album. The band that Glenn put together included Glenn, Don Henley (a drummer from a group called Shiloh) and Randy Meisner (Poco/Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band). While this band would not stay with Linda for long (more about this in a later post in The Southern California Sound Series) they were indeed a kick ass band and their later success would give Linda’s career a boost.
Linda’s third album was self titled and not only included her new band discussed above but other musicians we have discussed in earlier posts in the series: Bernie Leadon (Flying Burrito Brothers), Sneaky Pete Kleinow (Flying Burrito Brothers), and J.D. Souther (Longbranch Pennywhistle). It also included a song from a young songwriter named Jackson Browne, who lived in the apartment below Glen Frey and J. D. Souther when they formed Longbranch Pennywhistle. Let’s listen to Linda’s performance of Jackson Browne’s Rock Me On The Water.
Trying to further capitalize on her live performance reputation, three of the songs on her third solo album were live numbers recorded at Troubadour. Let’s listen to Linda’s live performance of Neil Young’s Birds that was included on the album.
Alas, with her third album Linda was still two albums away from her commercial break through album, Heart Like A Wheel, that would result in her being called the Queen Of Rock and/or the First Lady Of Rock in the mid-1970s. It is a strange twist of fate that her biggest contribution to the world of music, early in her solo career, would end up being her role in the formation of a yet to come supergroup that would come to symbolize the Souther California Sound. Much more about his later.
Before we leave Linda behind lets take a look ahead in her career and watch/listen to her sing a J.D Souther song called Faithless Love that was included on Heart Like A Wheel.
It is worth noting that J.D sang harmony with Linda on the album version of this song. The singer providing the harmony on this live version from 1975 is the late, great Andrew Gold (RIP Andrew). Andrew was another of Linda’s long time collaborators, a solo artists, and yet another member of Bryndle, the group I mentioned above when discussing Kenny Edwards.