Celebrating Seniors - Linda Ronstadt Turns 69 - Pt 5of5
Linda Ronstadt - Motherhood & Parkinson's
Enjoy this 5-part series celebrating Linda Ronstadt's 69th birthday this week on July 15 . Part Five - her career 1990 - 2011 and performing Poor, Poor Pitiful Me.
50plus Pals Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris in 2009. (Photo: Eric Frommer | Flickr Some rights reserved)
Although she lived up to the words in her song 1970's hit song "I Never Will Marry", Ronstadt did want children. Prophetically, back in 1980, when interviewed by Jean Vallely for Playboy magazine, Ronstadt had this to say:
"I've thought about it a lot, especially as I get nearer to 35. I like children a whole lot, but that's not a good enough reason. The only reason to have children is because you want them more than anything else and if I get to that point, I won't care if I'm married or not. I'd prefer to be with the kids' father, because I think that would multiply the enjoyment and the richness of the experience geometrically, but I don't think it would be impossible to do it alone."
In December 1990 at age 44, Linda Ronstadt adopted a baby girl, daughter Mary Clementine, and moved her home base from San Francisco (where she'd moved to in the 80's) to Tucson, Arizona to raise her family. In 1994 Ronstadt adopted another infant, son Carlos Ronstadt. Linda Ronstadt alternated between homes in San Francisco and Tucson for several years before moving back to live full time in San Francisco with her teenage children in 2005, when she was 55+.
Linda Ronstadt's first album in the 1990's to gather her (3) Billboard Top 100 chart hit singles was 1989's Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind, and included these 3 Aaron Neville duets - Don't Know Much with Aaron Neville, written by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Tom Snow, that went to #2 and won the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1989.
Don't Know Much was quickly followed by the duet All My Life, written by Karla Bonoff, which made it to #2 on the US Adult Contemporary charts and won Linda and Aaron the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1990.
Frenesi, written by Alberto Dominguez and Leonard Whitcup, appeared on Linda's 1992 Mexican/Latin album of the same name, and was a Billboard #7 US Latin chart hit single. The Frenesi album won the 1992 Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album. Ronstadt followed Frenesi up with another Mexican/Latin album in 1993, Mas Cansiones, which won her a second consecutive Grammy Award for Best Mexican-American Album.
Linda Ronstadt was back on the US Adult Contemporary charts in 1994 with the hit single Oh No Not My Baby from her 1994 album, Winter Light.
In 1995 Linda Ronstadt was in the Billboard Top 100 charts 2 more times, with two songs from her Feels Like Home Album - Blue Train, and Walk On. By now a mother of two, her 1996 album of lullabies, Dedicated to the One I Love, won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Album for Children.
With Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt recorded the follow-up album Trio II, which was released in 1999. Their cover of the popular single After The Gold Rush, written by Neil Young, won them a Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals.
Linda's last Billboard Top 100 hit single to hit the charts was High Sierra, from that same album (#90 on the Canadian Country chart).
Although a few more albums and tours followed, by the early 2000's Linda Ronstadt had cut down on her schedule in order to spend more time with her children at their home in Tucson. She was also coping with a loss of energy, a symptom of the auto-immune disorder Hashimoto's thyroiditis that she'd been diagnosed with in 1997. Around 2005 Linda had begun to notice her hands shaking, which she thought was the result of shoulder surgery. By 2007 her singing ability was being affected, she thought from a tick bite. Below, Linda Ronstadt singing her classic song Poor Poor Pitiful Me in 2007, one of her last live performances.
Despite this, she was able to sing on the Chieftain's 2010 song, A La Orilla de un Palmar - Linda Ronstadt's last recorded lead vocal song before announcing her retirement in 2011. Between 2002-2014 she released 6 compilation and "best of" albums; her recent 2014 Opus Collection hit #65 on the Billboard US Album charts.
The 2013 Linda Ronstadt memoir Simple Dreams focused on her musical life vs relating personal or relationship details. In interviews since then, Linda disclosed that she was first diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in late 2012, but that the Parkinson's symptoms had likely started up to 8 years prior - and gradually decreased her mobility, eventually robbing her completely of the ability to sing. In a 2013 interview with Gary Graff Linda Ronstadt talked about her volunteer work with youths in San Pablo, California at the Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Centre, and the end of her singing career:
"I have to say it's a drag; it's the worst thing that's ever happened to me...But I say to myself that I had a really unusually long turn at the trough, and I have to be satisfied with that and I got to live out my dreams musically in a way that a lot of people didn't get to. I was lucky that way and I'm grateful for it, and I have to just look around for other ways to make myself useful. And I will."
Below, a 2014 live interview with Linda Ronstadt:
Linda Ronstadt was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2014 , and in July of that year she received the National Medal of Arts in from President Barack Obama (one of her baby boomer fans, now 50+ or senior citizens). Between 1975-1999 Linda Ronstadt won 10 Grammy Awards for both her solo efforts and group collaborations across a variety of genres - country, pop, Mexican-American, tropical/latin. Despite all her hit folk, rock and country songs in the 70's, Ronstadt's favourite music from her career remains the Nelson Riddle Orchestra "American Songbook" songs she sang in the 80's.
Happy 69th Birthday, Linda Ronstadt - Thank you for your music!