In an interview with AARP.org, folk-rock singer Linda Ronstadt revealed that she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease eight months ago and that she can no longer “sing a note.”
“I couldn’t sing,” she told AARP’s music writer Alanna Nash, “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.”
She was completely shocked when she finally went to see neurologist and he told her it was Parkinson’s disease. She said, “I wouldn’t have suspected that in a million, billion years.”
Parkinson’s Disease causes Dysarthria, a condition which makes it difficult to use or control the muscles of the mouth, tongue, larynx, and vocal cords. It also causes Hypophonia, limiting vocal pitch and loudness it makes the voice to sound breathy, jittery or harsh. “No one can sing with Parkinson’s disease,” said Ronstadt. “No matter how hard you try.”
With a music career spanning over four decades, Ronstadt, now 67 years old, is widely considered the “First Lady of Rock.” During her career she was awarded with 11 Grammy’s, two Academy of Country Music awards, and an Emmy. She has had a number of hit singles such as “You’re No Good” and the Aaron Neville duet “Don’t Know Much.” Her albums have gone gold, platinum and multi-platinum. She was the first female solo artist to sell out concert arenas and was considered the highest paid woman in music during the 1970’s.
Ronstadt made several guest appearances in pop-culture references including The Simpsons episode “Mr. Plow” in which she voiced herself and sang a duet “Funny How Time Slips Away” with Homer Simpson on The Yellow Album. In 2011 Ronstadt announced her official retirement.