The award winning and legendary singer Linda Ronstadt has had her beautiful singing voice silenced forever by Parkinson’s Disease. She was diagnosed with the disease eight months ago.
The 67 year-old music icon revealed to AARP that she can no longer “sing a note” because of the disease. The performer revealed that she started having symptoms of Parkinson’s around eight years ago. But she thought that being unable to sing was down to a tick bite. She says that her health has not improved since the bite and that other symptoms, like the shaking in her hands, was down to shoulder surgery.
Ronstadt opened up to AARP writer Alanna Walsh in a interview that will be published next week on aarp.org. In the interview, Linda talked about how and when she realised that something had gone awry with her singing voice.
Speaking to Nash, she said, “I couldn’t sing 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.
The singer continued, “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. No matter how hard you try.”
It is tragic that the singer who Christopher Loudon of Jazz Times said had the “most sterling set of pipes of her generation” has had that unique singing voice silenced by Parkinson’s Disease. Linda Ronstadt was also said by Loudon, to be a rare chameleon who “can blend into any background yet remain boldly distinctive.”
Linda Ronstadt became a musical icon in the late 1960s and carried on as one throughout the 1970s and 80s. She earned an impressive amount of awards that includes eleven Grammy Awards; two Academy of Country Music awards; one Emmy Award; an ALMA Award; a plethora of United States and internationally certified gold, platinum and multiplatinum albums.
The singer has worked on collaborative efforts with some of the most famous names in music history. She has been featured on 120 albums and the diverse list of artists she has performed with includes Frank Zappa, Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris, to name but a few.
Ronstadt was instrumental is changing the way folk music was perceived throughout her career. She was also connected with the California Governor Jerry Brown and director George Lucas romantically. The singer is well known for her political activism.
The star now has to use poles when walking on uneven or broken ground and she uses a wheelchair when she travels. Linda Ronstadt’s memoir, titled Simple Dreams, is due for release on September 17 this year and the book does not go into her diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease or the fact that it has silenced that legendary singing voice.
By Michael Smith