Linda Ronstadt is now 67. The once prolific singer and winner of 11 Grammys (so, you know, she’s no slouch) retired from music in 2009. It was kind of mysterious — who willingly turns down rock stardom?
Now we know why.
According to Ronstadt, her voice began to change at age 50. She began suffering symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. It was only 8 months ago that her diagnosis was confirmed. Ronstadt traces the origin of her illness to a surprising source: Tick bites. And she can’t sing a note anymore.
“I can’t sing. I have Parkinson’s disease, which may be a result of that tick bite. They’re saying now they think there’s a relationship between tick bites and Parkinson’s disease — that a virus can switch on a gene, or cause neurodegeneration. So I can’t sing at all.”
Most people are familiar with the disease via Michael J. Fox, whose most obvious symptom is tremors. I had no idea Parkinson’s Disease could effect your voice. Neither did Ronstadt.
“So I didn’t know why I couldn’t sing — all I knew was that it was muscular, or mechanical. Then, when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I was finally given the reason. I now understand that no one can sing with Parkinson’s disease. No matter how hard you try. And in my case, I can’t sing a note.”
But she remains upbeat and determined. She’s written a memoir, titled Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir (available September 17th), and it sounds pretty interesting. Don’t forget that Ronstadt’s back up band became The Eagles, and she rubbed shoulders with the likes of Janis Joplin (“She was a sweet and sincere person”), Brian Wilson (“One of the great geniuses of American pop music”), and Jim Morrison (“There was something very reptilian about him”).
Best wishes to Linda Ronstadt. It’s hard to see these rock greats suffer the ravages of time, but it’s nice to see her maintain her sense of humor and incredible attitude.
Is it better to burn out than just fade away?
Photo Source: Fabio Nosotti/Corbis