Ballad of Jerry and Linda

N e w s w e e k

April 23, 1979

          You and I travel to the beat of a diff'rent drum
          Oh, can't you tell by the way I run
          Ev'ry time you make eyes at me
                                      -"Different Drum"
Linda Ronstadt and Jerry Brown have been singing that song discreetly to each other for some time now. So when they slipped the reins and traveled to Africa last week, their relationship suddenly began to look more meaningful than ever. Linda's fans wondered. Jerry's aides winced. And from the blue bayou to Timbuktu, gossips, groupies and political gamblers alike started asking the ultimate question: were the singer with a heart like a wheel and the governor with a soul set on the White House getting it all together at last?

The romance began across the street from the Paramount lot in Los Angeles about eight years ago. Linda was sitting dreamily in the second booth from the front door of Lucy Casada's El Adobe café, studying a plate of enchiladas, when in walked Brown, a thin young man with plenty of dreams of his own. Frank Casada, the husband of the café's warm-hearted proprietor, gave his wife a little nudge. "I said to Lucy, 'Why don't you introduce them to each other?' " he recalls. "She made the introductions. They sat there and talked a while- and things blossomed from there."

HITTING IT OFF: Both were Roman Catholics from established families (Linda's father was a prosperous machinery merchant in Tucson, Ariz.; Jerry's had been governor of California for two terms), both loved funky music and ethnic chow, both shared a passion for holing up instead of hanging out. Linda had arrived in Los Angeles at 18 with a steel guitarist, a kit full of heartbreak ballads and a mind set on cracking the Top 10; Jerry was a brainy ex-seminarian and closet political philosopher with his eye on the Statehouse in Sacramento. Their difference seemed to preclude a conventional match. Still, they hit it off. "It's a very, very special relationship that they have," says one of Brown's old aides. "It's a very important thing, and it's not something that either of them takes lightly."

taking pictures of the photograhersWhen they first starting dating seriously, Linda took out subscriptions to The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal so she would have something to talk to Jerry about. Friends say that Brown was impressed enough to take up reading the Journal himself, something he had never done regularly before. Both thrived. Linda's eclectic, folk-country-rock'n'roll riffs ("Desperado," "Love Is a Rose," "When Will I Be Loved?") sold more than 27 million records.

FLIRTY AND FUNNY: They have been seen together often. "They really like each other," says California State Assemblyman Willie Brown, who has spent time with them. "He's a different person when he's with her. There's a side the public never sees. He's flirty, flippant and very funny. And he's as interested in her physically as I'd like to be."

Ronstadt on safari in KenyaThey also take long walks, hand in hand, beside the surf at Malibu; they sometimes go to midnight Japanese movies in West L.A. or country music at the funky Palomino out in the San Fernando Valley. And they are regulars at El Adobe, where Lucy and Frank have become surrogate parents to them. "They talk, eat together and kid around," says Frank. "She gives him a little kiss on the cheek. He gives her a kiss on the cheek. Jerry's kind of an inward guy."

According to friends, Brown once confessed that he couldn't marry Linda because it would cost him the White House. That wasn't exactly a Duke of Windsor approach to love, but then Linda had admitted to experimenting with grass and to using so much cocaine that she had to have her nose cauterized twice. After Jerry made his confession, some friends say, Linda swore to wear basic black and pearls for life if he would change his mind. Others doubt that. "I know she would not like being a political wife" says Ruthmary Ronstadt, Linda's mother. And it was hard to envision the comely rock star pouring tea for Congressional wives or performing other First Ladylike chores.

Will Linda make a husband out of the bachelor governor? "Marrying Jerry is an urge that comes on her periodically," says one confidant. "She wants a sense of stability. She has talked about their becoming hermits on Jerry's land in northern California." Other friends say that Linda, now 32, is not ready to settle down, and her name has been linked with Mick Jagger, comedian Bill Murray and Chip Carter, the President's son. When Jagger breezed through L.A., he called and asked her to meet him in Mexico. "That's the sort of thing I couldn't do if I was married to Jerry," she mused.

KANGAROOS: So whether the courtship of such standoffish lovers would produce roses or rutabagas remained to be seen. Before Linda made up her mind to accompany Brown on safari, she had dinner last week with her parents. In passing, she mentioned that an admirer from Australia, where she had just been on tour, was shipping two kangaroos to the Los Angeles zoo as a gift in her name. "Thank God you didn't go to Africa," her father said with a laugh. "God knows what you would have brought back." This week, he'll find out.

          T O M   M A T H E W S  with  M A R T I N   K A S I N D O R F
          and  J A N E T   H U C K  in Los Angeles

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR concerning this article and the accompanying article on Jerry Brown were published in the May 7, 1979 issue. Here is a sampling of those letters:
Hooray! Let's hear it for Jerry Brown, a politician who doesn't sneak around in his private life or feel that any political decision, once made, is irrevocable. Why does the American public prefer prepackaged, staff-prepped mediocrity to full-fledged human beings? As for Linda Ronstadt, what a historic achievement to have a self-made woman presiding over the White House.

Abington, Mass.
Congratulations on a fine article about Presidential hopeful Jerry Brown. Over-all, it was an interesting, fair and concise picture of this man. However, I was horrified to see an entire page devoted to his love life with Linda Ronstadt. To focus on the subject in this manner could be expected from some sensationalist gossip rag, not a publication of the caliber of Newsweek.

Eastchester, N.Y.
The only way Jerry Brown could get to the White House would be if Linda became President and he married her.

Fountain Valley, Calif.

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