“Legendary singer Linda Ronstadt, 67, told AARP that she ‘can’t sing a note’ because she suffers from Parkinson’s disease,” the AARP reveals in an exclusive story on its website. [AARP is now the official name of the organization formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons.]
The story continues, “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.”
Ronstadt told AARP music writer Alanna Nash, “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.”
Ronstadt 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.”
The story adds: “Ronstadt walks with the aid of poles when on uneven ground, and uses a wheelchair when she travels.”
Ronstadt, one of the bestselling female singers of all time, was named the top female singer for the decade of the 1970s by the music trade publication Cash Box.
Known for singing beautiful ballads and for having perfect pitch, here are some facts about Ronstadt that were once compiled in an article for Goldmine by Phil Marder:
● She has earned 11 Grammys, two Academy Of Country Music awards, an Emmy and an American Latino Media Arts award, and she has received Tony and Golden Globe nominations.
● She ranked as the No. 1 female singles seller in 1975 and 1977.
● Combining albums and singles, she is one of the highest-ranking artists in the history of recorded music.
● All told, she has posted 38 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching the top 10 on 10 different occasions, No. 2 three times and the top spot once. On the Billboard top album charts, she has 36 entries, including 10 that reached the top 10 and three that hit No. 1.
● She has reached the UK top 40 with five albums and three singles, including a No. 2 single in 1989.
● Between 1969 and 1994 she has had 20 singles reach the Canadian top 40, including two that peaked at No. 2 and two that reached No. 1, and nine top 20 LPs, including the “Trio” album, which hit No. 4, and “Simple Dreams,” which topped the Canadian charts.
● On the country charts, she has had solo albums and a single reach No. 1 in addition to a No. 1 collaboration with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris.
● She is considered the first female solo artist popular enough to pack large concert arenas.
Here are two videos from YouTube that show off Ronstadt’s talent. If you are too young to know her work, please watch them. She’s an extraordinary singer. The first video is her rendition of The Eagles’ “Desperado,” live, in a 1977 concert.
Here’s the second video. It’s a 1999 live duet with Emmylou Harris from the “Today” show of Linda Thompson’s “Telling Me Lies.” (Ronstadt is the brunette.)