Linda Ronstadt’s new memoir recounts her decades-long career in music and chronicles her current battle with Parkinson’s disease. But the autobiography of the former Stone Poney’s frontwoman is also peppered with references to her former beau, Gov. Jerry Brown.
Ronstadt recounts a time during the winter of 1979 when she was “keeping company” with the then-41-year-old governor when a series of winter storms threatened to wipe out her Malibu Colony home. “The newspapers had begun to speculate on whether the governor was going to spend state money to protect his girlfriend’s house,” Ronstadt writes. “Precisely because of such speculation, Jerry had already decided not to.”
Brown also makes cameos answering the phone when Ronstadt received her offer to star in the Broadway musical “Pirates of Penzance” and reappropriating a bouquet of roses someone had sent Ronstadt to give as a gift to Rosemary Clooney. Ronstadt even offers a brief retelling of the couple’s first meeting at Lucy’s El Adobe Mexican Restaurant in Hollywood, an old haunt the governor still visits from time to time and where pictures of a younger Brown still adorn the walls.
At first blush it’s hard to imagine the woman who was in the middle of the L.A. rock scene of the 1970s, who tells tales of all-night jam sessions with Gram Parsons and Keith Richards in the Hollywood Hills, had anything in common with the philosophical, Latin-quoting former and current governor.
But Ronstadt explains their connection, saying the two “had a lot of fun for a number of years. He was smart and funny, not interested in drinking or drugs, and lived his life carefully, with a great deal of discipline,” attributes she describes as “a relief” from the musicians she hung around with.
“Neither of us ever suffered under the delusion that we would like to share each other’s lives. I would have found his life too restrictive, and he would have found mine entirely chaotic,” she continues. “Eventually we went our separate ways and embraced things that resonated with us as different individuals … We have always remained on excellent terms.”