You Oughta Know: Nicolette Larson
It’s National Women’s History Month, and if you’ve been checking out Rhino.com since March began, then you know that we’re making a concerted effort to utilize a number of our regular features as opportunities to spotlight female artists. Today, we’re making sure that you’re aware of the late Nicolette Larson, who was far too young when she passed away – she was only 45 – but who nonetheless made a significant musical impact during her time as a recording artist.
A Montana girl by birth, Larson and her family moved around because of her father’s job with the U.S. Treasury Department, so she actually graduated from high school in Kansas City, Missouri, but after a few semesters at the University of Missouri, she decided to move to San Francisco, where she worked at a record store, volunteered for the Golden Gate Country Bluegrass Festival, and – you knew this was coming eventually – started performing. After opening for Eric Andersen, she began to build a reputation as a solid performer and soon picked up a gig with Hoyt Axton and the Banana Band, and – thanks to Axton producing Commander Cody – ended up scoring her first credit as a recording artist on Cody’s 1975 album, TALES FROM THE OZONE.
Fast forward a few years, and not only has Larson racked up appearances on songs by Rodney Crowell, Mary Kay Place, Billy Joe Shaver, Gary Stewart, Jesse Winchester, and Jesse Colin Young, but it was her work on Emmylou Harris’s 1977 album LUXURY LINER that really helped kick her career up a notch. That’s when she met Linda Ronstadt, who got a call from Neil Young when he was in need of a female vocal accompanist, and after Young admitted that Ronstadt was the third person to have mentioned Larson, he came over to Ronstadt’s house to meet Larson. After working on Young’s AMERICAN STARS ‘N BARS and COMES TIME albums, Larson secured her own record deal with Warner Brothers, and that’s when she officially became a recording artist in her own right.
Recently, Rhino put together a digital compilation entitled LOTTA LOVE: FINEST MOMENTS, a summation of the best of Larson’s career on Warner Brothers. Give it a listen, and we think you’ll agree that it’s true: you oughta know her music.