Last week, legendary singer Linda Ronstadt delivered a bombshell about her health when she announced she has Parkinson’s disease and is now unable to sing. She made the announcement in an interview with AARP. “I can’t sing a note,” she said. “No one can sing with Parkinson’s, no matter how hard you try.”
Though she was recently diagnosed with the neurodegenerative brain disorder, Ronstadt says she believes she may have had it for as many as eight years. During the time she began to notice symptoms, including stiffness, she was suffering from a “tick disease” resulting from a tick bite and assumed the two were related. When her hands began to tremble, she attributed it to shoulder surgery. “When I finally went to a neurologist and he said, ‘Oh, you have Parkinson’s disease,’ I was completely shocked,” she revealed. “I wouldn’t have suspected that in a million, billion years.”
Parkinson’s Disease is a slowly progressing brain disorder that affects more than 50,000 people each year, according to the National Parkinson’s Foundation. Early symptoms include tremors, rigidity of the limbs or trunk, trouble with balance and slowed movement. There is no cure for the disease. Doctors focus their efforts on helping patients manage their symptoms with medication, speech and occupational therapy, and in some cases, surgical treatment.
Linda Ronstadt, who turned 67 this year, is an 11-time grammy winner with a long list of impressive musical achievements including 38 Billboard Hot 100 singles, 30 studio albums and 15 compilation albums with record sales going gold, platinum and multi-platinum. Some of her best known and beloved songs include, “Blue Bayou,” “You’re No Good,” and “Long Long Time.”
This morning on the Today Show, chief medical editor, Nancy Snyderman, delivered more insight behind Ronstadt’s devastating inability to sing. “People forget that vocal chords are muscles, so if Parkinson’s causes stiffness and slowing down of the muscles, there is no reason to think your voice wouldn’t be affected too,” she explains. “If you have to rely on the fine muscle quivering of a vocal chord, that means that a singer can’t do what he or she wants to do.”
Ronstadt joins Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox, among celebrities also battling Parkinson’s. Linda’s memoir, “Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir” is slated for release on September 17, 2013. In the book, she does not discuss her diagnosis or her battle with the disease.