Five years before she was inducted as a solo artist, Stevie Nicks took the stage at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to honor Linda Ronstadt. She was joined by Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, Carrie Underwood, and Glenn Frey — who delivered her induction speech minutes earlier.
“Linda lives in a place where art trumps commerce, where self-exploration trumps self-exploitation, where hard work and integrity trump fame and failure,” the late Eagle said. “She never wanted to be a star, she just wanted to make good music.”
This is part of the reason why Ronstadt didn’t appear at the ceremony: her lifelong aversion to self-promotion. She rarely gives much thought to her own legacy, so much so that she nearly turned down participating in her documentary Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, describing the idea as “too invasive” and “self-absorbed.” Her diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease a year prior also contributed to her absence, making it difficult for her to travel.
Ronstadt not appearing at her induction is far from unusual — Joni Mitchell, Grace Slick, Diana Ross, and countless others have also not shown up — but it marks one of the rare times that the tribute more than makes up for the artist’s absence. Underwood kicked off with “Different Drum,” Harris and Raitt sang a beautiful “Blue Bayou,” and Crow tore through “You’re No Good.” Their triumphant closing of “When Will I Be Loved” is in itself one of Rock Hall’s greatest moments, right up there with Prince’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” solo and a Nirvana reunion.
Nicks bringing her witchy rock & roll charm to the mix only made the evening more special, as her gritty vocals laid down each line of “It’s So Easy” as she swayed in her signature black dress. It’s fitting that she’s backed by guitarist Waddy Wachtel, who has played on many of Nicks’ and Ronstadt’s records.
“I think that when she was 15, 16, 17, she was probably just like me,” Nicks told Rolling Stone following the ceremony. “She was marching through the halls of her high school going, ‘Everybody should be moving aside right now, because: ‘Don’t you know who I am? I’m Linda Ronstadt, future huge rock star.’ It’s just in her.”
Ronstadt turned 75 years old this month. The Sound of My Voice is currently streaming on YouTube for free.