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Linda Ronstadt Has Parkinson’s Disease

Legendary singer Linda Ronstadt, 67, told AARP today that she “can’t sing a note” because she suffers from Parkinson’s disease. Diagnosed eight months ago, Ronstadt began to show symptoms as long as eight years ago. But she ascribed her inability to sing to a tick bite (“my health has never recovered since then”), and believed the shaking in her hands resulted from shoulder surgery.

In a wide-ranging interview with AARP’s music writer Alanna Nash to be published on aarp.org next week, Ronstadt revealed how she discovered that “there was something wrong” with her voice.

“I couldn’t sing,” she told 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.

“Parkinson’s is very hard to diagnose, so when I finally went to a neurologist and he said, ‘Oh, you have Parkinson’s disease,’ I was completely shocked. I wouldn’t have suspected that in a million, billion years.

“No one can sing with Parkinson’s disease,” Ronstadt said. “No matter how hard you try.”

Ronstadt walks with the aid of poles when on uneven ground, and uses a wheelchair when she travels.

Although Ronstadt’s new memoir, Simple Dreams, will appear on September 17, it does not discuss her diagnosis, or the loss of her voice.

Ronstadt, who dated high profile men such as California Gov. Jerry Brown and George Lucas, helped shape the folk-rock music scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s. She started as lead singer of the Stone Poneys, then went on to achieve fame as a solo performer. She has earned 11 Grammy Awards, two Academy of Country Music awards, and an Emmy. Her albums have gone gold, platinum and multi-platinum.

by Anonymousreply 608/25/2013

Very sad. She has an amazing voice. How frustrating it must be to no longer be able to sing.

by Anonymousreply 108/25/2013

Sad to hear this.

Hers is one of the most beautiful, expressive and haunting voices of the rock era. She was always a terrific interpreter of other people's songs.

From the pop classic "Diff'rent Drum" to her amazing covers of the Eagles' "Desperado" and Elvis Costello's "Alison" to the whole MAD LOVE album and then on to her her work with Dolly and Emmy Lou and the albums of standards...good work, Linda.

by Anonymousreply 508/25/2013

I wouldn't wish Parkinson's on anyone.

That said, Linda Rondstadt has a terrible, much-deserved, reputation in the industry. She lost her looks early, which is why she started doing Great American Songbook and Spanish-language albums.

She stopped touring because she was such a terror, no one would work with her anymore. She still acted like a superstar, but promoters struggled to fill small theaters.

As Robert Christgau once said: "This is how Ethel Merman would do Elvis Costello, only Ethel Merman has a better sense of humor."

by Anonymousreply 608/25/2013
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