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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – She was a teenage folk singer from Tuscon, Arizona, who left home to find her voice in L.A.’s burgeoning music scene in the late 1960’s. She would earn the title of “Queen of Rock,” collaborated on smash hits, she even blew up music charts singing in Spanish.

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Thirty-one albums, one-hundred million records sold, 11 Grammies, an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, all over five decades.

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Today, you can find Linda Ronstadt living in the heart of San Francisco, her singing voice now silenced by Parkinson’s disease.

“You don’t get any juice from your brain to hold up your spine for instance, so my spine is collapsing a little bit, so I get a lot of back trouble,” explained Ronstadt.

Asked what her voice would sound like today if she tried to sing? The rock icon was blunt.

“It wouldn’t sound like anything. I can’t get to the note, I can’t make any quality sound, arrage pitch. I might aim for a note and hit another one,” said Ronstadt. “It sounds like shouting. But there’s nothing I can do about it, you know?

Ronstadt makes up for the loss of her voice, With stories about her musical journey and the legends she met along the way.

“It was just a great lively scene and then there would be evenings at the Troubador after that you’d go to somebody’s house and jam all night and that’s the way we lived,” Ronstadt recalled.

Different Drum was her first  hit in 1967 with the Stone Poneys.

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“By the time I found out it was going to be a hit we’re on our way down to Capitol Records to have a meeting. We had one car for the band,” she recalled. “That car broke down on La Brea leaving us stranded at a service station. And then all of a sudden I heard the intro to a Different Drum and I knew the song was on KHJ and if it went on KHJ it was a hit! KHJ was the biggest station in L.A. and L.A. was the big happening deciding if you had a hit or not.”

When the Stone Poneys parted ways, Ronstadt formed a new band with a drummer named Don Henley and a guitarist named Glenn Frey, who’d later form a band of their own, The Eagles. Ronstadt even covered one of the Eagles most famous songs titled Desperado.

In 1977, Ronstadt hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with her signature hit Blue Bayou.

“I thought I just have to sing that song or I’m going to die.”

She was voted top female pop singer of the 1970’s and her rock and roll image appeared six times on the cover of Rolling Stone and Time magazine.

About that said Ronstadt, “It didn’t matter. The music is what counted.”

She said she doesn’t kiss and tell but admits to a certain relationship with a certain California Governor Jerry Brown.
As Ronstadt approaches 70, she says she’s resigned to her diagnosis and the loss of her famous voice.

“So you have to say, ‘I had a good ride!”


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