Linda Ronstadt tells a “Divastating” story about her life that nobody knows about

The last time Linda Ronstadt, the highest paid lady in rock & roll, sang live was ten years ago. The world learned why in 2013, when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and had to give up singing. Her career had been a lasting influence on the classic-rock era and had brought her ten Grammy Awards. Her performances of “Different Drum” (with her early group, the Stone Poneys), “You’re No Good” (from her breakthrough album, “Heart Like a Wheel”), “Blue Bayou,” and “Desperado” helped define the California folk-rock sound. Ronstadt’s earth-shaking voice and feisty stage presence catapulted her to fame in the late 1960s. Two of her backup musicians went on to become the Eagles along the way.

Ronstadt, who is currently 73 years old, experimented with a dizzying array of genres rather than resting on her best songs. She recorded a standards album with seasoned arranger Nelson Riddle in the 1980s, and she made her Broadway debut in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance.” She also released “Canciones de Mi Padre,” a compilation of traditional Mexican songs, which went on to become the best-selling non-English-language album in American history. Ronstadt was also brought back to her roots by the record. Her father had serenaded her mother with Mexican folk songs in a gorgeous baritone, and her grandfather was a bandleader from Mexico. Her childhood home was near the border in Tucson, Arizona, which is now a political hot spot.

The eventful career of Linda Ronstadt is the subject of a new documentary titled “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice,” which is helmed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman and premieres on September 6. She made two phone calls from her San Francisco home to The New Yorker. We have trimmed and summarized our interactions.

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