Linda Ronstadt's Timeless Appeal
("GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends" — a special all-star concert honoring The Recording Academy's 2016 Special Merit Awards recipients — will air Oct. 14 from 9–11:30 p.m. on PBS. Linda Ronstadt, who received a 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy, will be among the artists saluted.)
Linda Ronstadt is one of the premier singers of any time, and also a beautiful person. I'm so glad to have her music to listen to. It soothes me on long flights. From her songs with the Stone Poneys and her songs with Nelson Riddle to her mariachi music and Cry Like A Rainstorm — Howl Like The Wind, you can feel every emotion.
I'm thankful that we are on the planet at the same time and it was an honor and a privilege to record with her. She's a strong singer who could belt it out, and then come down to the sweetest most intricate part of her voice. It's like her voice is a painting meant to be here forever, and she made it so easy to sing with her. She told me that our voices were married.
The first song we actually sang together was "Ave Maria" in harmony. The Neville Brothers were playing at Pete Fountain's club during the World's Fair in 1984 in New Orleans. After her show with Riddle, Linda came to see us. Someone told us that she was in the audience and I dedicated a song to her and called her up to sing some doo-wop. She told the press that it was the highlight of her tour. She felt like Cinderella at the ball because we were her favorite band.
When I asked her to come back to New Orleans to join myself and Allen Toussaint for our annual concert to raise money for New Orleans Artists Against Hunger and Homelessness, a nonprofit I founded with Toussaint in 1985, she quickly agreed. We have so much respect for each other's voices.
She and Peter Asher said that we should record together, and now our songs are a part of history. I can remember being at the studio to record with Linda and I couldn't wait. I had fallen in love with the songs that we were going to record; I was ecstatic. It was five years from the night I called her onstage to sing with us in New Orleans. George Massenburg was the engineer and Asher and Steve Tyrell co-produced. Linda and I sang "Don't Know Much" and when we finished I said to her, "Meet you at the GRAMMYs." I was joking, and yet not joking because it was that great a song, and also a great performance. So, like I said, the rest is history.
I don't know much, but I know that Linda deserves to be honored with The Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award.
(A co-founder of the GRAMMY-winning band the Neville Brothers, Aaron Neville has garnered four GRAMMYs, including two with Linda Ronstadt for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for "Don't Know Much" (1989) and "All My Life" (1990). Neville's 1966 solo hit "Tell It Like It Is" was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2015.)