Skip to main content

Rock Hall and Linda Ronstadt marching to a different drum

Linda Ronstadt is a household name in many countries, but her success has not translated into recognition from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Linda Ronstadt, one of the most popular and versatile artists of the Rock & Roll era, has yet to hear from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

(No. 17 in a continuing series on artists who should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but are not)

By Phill Marder

She has been called the “Queen of Rock.“

She has been called “The First Lady Of Rock.“

She has earned 11 Grammys, two Academy Of Country Music awards, an Emmy, an American Latino Media Arts award and she has received Tony and Golden Globe nominations.

She ranked No. 1 female singles seller in 1975 and 1977.

Combining albums and singles, she is one of the highest ranking artists in the history of recorded music.

All told, she has posted 38 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching the top 10 on 10 different occasions, No. 2 three times and the top spot once. On the Billboard top album charts, she has 36 entries, including 10 that reached the top 10 and three that hit No. 1.

She has reached the UK top 40 with five albums and three singles, including a No. 2 single in 1989.

Between 1969 and 1994 she has had 20 singles reach the Canadian top 40, including two that peaked at No. 2 and two that reached No. 1, and nine top 20 LPs, including the "Trio" album, which hit No. 4, and "Simple Dreams," which topped the Canadian charts.

On the Country charts, she has had solo albums and a single reach No. 1 in addition to a No. 1 collaboration with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris.

She is considered the first female solo artist popular enough to pack large concert arenas.

She was named top female artist of the 70s by Cash Box magazine.

She was the first female to have three consecutive platinum albums and her “Living In The USA” became the first album to ship double platinum. In addition, her “Canciones De Mi Padre” is the best selling non-English language album in United States history.


This has to be some kind of sick joke.

She is, of course, Linda Ronstadt.

Linda Ronstadt is a great singer. Pitch perfect, she lets the song be the avenue of pleasure, enhancing it not swamping it. Whitney Houston once bragged how she sang the *#$! out of "I Will Always Love You." She did. That's why Ronstadt's version is so much better. She showed off the song, not how many notes she can hit.

There’s no better ballad singer than Linda Ronstadt and she has more than held her own on hard rocking material, from classic to punk. In addition, Ronstadt has been a major force in Country music and she also has recorded albums of standards, Mexican favorites, rock classics as lullabies, cajun and jazz offerings and Christmas favorites.

With that said, it's a puzzle that Ronstadt has been ignored so far, though maybe her abandonment of Rock has a lot to do with it as she spread her wings to embrace recordings outside the world of Rock. It’s Ironic that artists who maintain the status quo are criticized for not growing musically, while those who do branch out are criticized for abandoning Rock.

Still, from 1967 when she first broke onto the scene with The Stone Poneys until 1983 when she began to branch out with Nelson Riddle, Ronstadt fairly dominated the charts with tasteful covers of everyone from Betty Everett to Billy Joe Royal. To further add to her credentials, Ronstadt sang backup on Neil Young’s two biggest hits, “Heart Of Gold” and “Old Man,” Andrew Gold’s No. 7 “Lonely Boy,” and Warren Zevon’s “Excitable Boy” and many others. And, in 1971, her touring band was Bernie Leadon, Glen Frey, Randy Meisner and Don Henley, who did fairly well as The Eagles after polishing their chops behind Ronstadt.

Perhaps Ronstadt has been shunned because she’s been outspoken on different topics. For instance, take this quote on the Ramones: “I couldn’t understand the words. I like power but it has to have some intelligence. This was so constricted I would call it hemorrhoid music.“

The Ramones are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, by the way.

“I didn’t set out to be a star, said Ronstadt. “I don’t think of myself as a star. I set out to become a singer. I would have sung no matter what. I finally learned how to sing. It’s too bad I had to do all my learning in public.”

On critics, Ronstadt has said, “I’m tired of being victimized by people who are dedicated to a snappy phrase.”

Well, I’m not dedicated to a snappy phrase. I just like music. And, obviously, I’m not alone in my admiration for Ronstadt. It’s time for those responsible for who gets nominated and who gets inducted to start studying those who are eligible. The joke has worn very, very thin.