Linda Maria Ronstadt was born in Tucson, Arizona to a German-Mexican father and a Dutch-English mother. Ronstadt began her career in the mid 1960s singing in Los Angeles, California clubs with the folk-rock group, the Stone Poneys. She scored her first hit single in 1967, as singer for the Stone Poneys, with the song "Different Drum," written by Monkees member Michael Nesmith.
Her first solo hit single came in 1970, with the country rock crossover single, "Long Long Time." She achieved her greatest commercial success during the 1970s, with a string of platinum albums, as she branched out from the earlier country rock sound to include more conventional rock, often covering early rock classics from the 1950s and early 1960s. Her breakthrough year was 1975, when she released a series of hits beginning with the single "You're No Good." She hit #1 on the Billboard magazine charts with her 1974 album Heart Like a Wheel, and followed that up with the #1 albums Simple Dreams in 1977 and Living in the U.S.A. in 1978.
Ronstadt dated Jerry Brown, then Governor of California, in the late 1970s.
In addition to pop-rock hits such as her popular version of the Roy Orbison hit, "Blue Bayou" and duets with Aaron Neville that received much critical acclaim, her long singing career has been filled with an eclectic mix of recordings, including Big Band sounds, Mexican canciones, an album of old-time country music, an album of Latin music, and an album of rock classics redone as lullabies.
After appearing in the Broadway play, in 1983 she co-starred with Kevin Kline and Angela Lansbury in The Pirates of Penzance, a motion picture based on a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.
Showing her versatility yet again, in 1996 Ronstadt released Dedicated to the One I Love, an album of children's music. In a career spanning four decades, she has recorded more than forty albums, her latest a return to her roots in pop-rock ballads.
Ronstadt bought a home in Tucson several years ago, after having spent more than 20 years in Los Angeles and 10 more in San Francisco. Having adopted two children--a boy and a girl--she wanted to return to where she was raised and where her family resides. In Tucson, her brother was once police chief, her cousin a city official, and her nephew a city council member. The downtown bus pavilion is known as the Ronstadt Transit Center.
Ronstadt is the single mother of two young adopted children, Carlos and Mary.