They say you never forget your first, and while that expression traditionally isn’t referring to making it to the top of the charts, Linda Ronstadt has two such reasons to really romanticize February of 1975, the month that provided her with both her first chart-topping single and album.
Produced by Peter Asher, Heart Like a Wheel was the final album released by Ronstadt for Capitol Records, although it didn’t actually turn up in record store until after she’d already released her first album for Asylum Records, Don't Cry Now. But, hey, these things happen when you’ve got contractual obligations to fill!
Even though Asher was at the helm for all of the sessions, Heart Like a Wheel was recorded at a myriad of studios, with various tracks being laid down at The Sound Factory and Clover Records in Los Angeles, Track Recorders in Maryland, the Record Planet and The Hit Factory in New York City, and Trident Studios and AIR Studios in London. The end result, however, is a myriad of guest musicians and vocalists popping up throughout the proceedings, including - but not limited to - Glenn Frey, J.D. Souther (current and future members of the Eagles), Andrew Gold, Emmylou Harris, Cissy Houston, J.D. Souther and more.
To say that Heart Like a Wheel was Ronstadt’s big breakthrough album is kind of an understatement: in addition to topping the Billboard 200 and spawning the No. 1 single “You’re No Good,” a tune first made famous by Dee Dee Warwick, the album also provided her with the No. 2 pop hit (and No. 1 country hit!) “When Will I Be Loved” (originally by the Everly Brothers), a cover of Hank Williams’ “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You” that was also a No. 2 country hit, and a cover of Buddy Holly’s “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” that hit No. 20 on the Hot 100.
In summation, after Heart Like a Wheel, Linda Ronstadt was kind of a big deal...and still is.