Linda Ronstadt, an iconic singer in the 60s and 70s, revealed in an interview with AARP that she has Parkinson’s disease. Ronstadt, 67, received the diagnosis eight months ago, providing a sad answer to a question she had: why she could no longer sing.
"No one can sing with Parkinson's disease," she told the AARP, “no matter how hard you try.”
Parkinson’s disease eats away at the functioning of the central nervous system by attacking dopamine-producing cells. Parkinson’s disease is most noticeable in how it makes people tremor and move haltingly, but as it progresses, it affects cognitive abilities and can eventually result in dementia. Parkinson’s disease is most common in the elderly, but early-onset Parkinson’s disease can strike younger people, as happened to Michael J. Fox.
Ronstadt enjoyed a long and successful career, earning eleven Grammy’s, two Country Music Academy Awards and one Emmy. She is best known for hits “You’re No Good,” “Blue Bayou” and “Don’t Know Much.”
Ronstadt had symptoms of Parkinson’s disease for a while, but attributed them to other sources. Her difficulty singing she chalked up to a tick bite, and the tremor in her hands she thought resulted from shoulder surgery. Now that she has received the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, Ronstadt believes she has had the condition for close to a decade:
“I couldn’t sing,” she told the AARP, “and I couldn’t figure out why. I knew it was mechanical. I knew it had to do with the muscles, but I thought it might have also had something to do with the tick disease that I had. And it didn’t occur to me to go to a neurologist. I think I’ve had it for seven or eight years already, because of the symptoms that I’ve had. Then I had a shoulder operation, so I thought that’s why my hands were trembling.”
Ronstadt retired in 2011 and Parkinson’s disease is not uncommon among people her age, but it’s hard not to be sad about the physical decline of one of the great singers of the last generation.