Linda Ronstadt: ‘Nobody Wanted’ Collaboration With Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris
Linda Ronstadt has covered a wide spectrum of music over the course of her long career, but she looks back with a special fondness on two albums she made with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris.
Speaking to Matt Wardlaw from Ultimate Classic Rock, Ronstadt says it was obvious that the three singers had a special vocal blend from the first time they sang together one day at Harris' house.
"We were just hanging out together and Emmy picked up her guitar and we started singing a Carter Family song. That’s what musicians always do. They’ll always start to jam," she recalls. "We were shocked by the sound. It surprised all three of us. We immediately said, 'Well, we have to record.' That wasn’t even remotely on my mind when I went over there that day.”
Though all of the singers were stars in their own right, Ronstadt says a collaboration between them was anything but an easy sell.
“Nobody wanted it. Nobody else thought it was a good idea except for us. They called us the Queenston Trio,” she recalls with a laugh. “The record company didn’t want it, none of the managers wanted us to do it, because it would take time out of our individual schedules to do it, and none of the record companies wanted us to do it, because we were on different labels, so we’d be competing with each others'. Three different labels. Finally, we just said, ‘We’re going to do this, whether anybody likes it or not!’”
Released in 1987, Trio was a runaway hit, scoring four hit singles and selling four million copies. The album won a Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, and it also won the 1987 Academy of Country Music Award for Album of the Year, as well as Vocal Event of the Year at the 1988 CMA Awards.
The singers reunited in 1999 for Trio II, which went gold and won Best Country Collaboration With Vocals at the 42nd Grammy Awards.
“I think they’re good. I really liked them," Ronstadt says of the albums. "We made something that was different from the three of us as individuals, so I can look at it more objectively. I just talked to Emmy today, and we were saying how proud we were of those records. They were really musically satisfying, because I’ve jammed with a lot of other singers and it usually sounds pretty good, because we’re all professional singers, but we were all shocked when we heard that sound for the first time at Emmy’s house."
Though Ronstadt had to give up her singing career after announcing that she has Parkinson's disease in 2013, she and Harris were both on hand on Feb. 8 when Parton was honored as the 2019 MusiCares Person of the Year in Los Angeles.
See Pictures From Dolly Parton's MusiCares Person of the Year Ceremony