Linda Ronstadt Struggling With Parkinson's Disease After Resurfacing in the Public Eye
You may know Linda Ronstadt as one of the most popular singers in the late 60's, who has earned 11 Grammy awards, 3 American Music Awards, 2 Academy of Country Music awards, an Emmy award, and an ALMA awards, among many others. Throughout her prestigious career, she found success performing in multiple genres, including jazz, light opera, country, rock, and Latin music. Many of her albums have been certified gold, platinum, or multiplatinum both in the United States and abroad.
Her lifelong trajectory has also earned her an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award by The Recording Academy in 2016. Despite enjoying a long career in both music and film, it was cut short in 2013, when she received her Parkinson’s diagnosis and was no longer able to sing. Parkinson's is the reason why she officially announced her retirement, and slipped away from the public eye to receive her treatment.
She has been struggling with her symptoms for more than 12 years. The first signs she experienced date back to 2004, when she was had a difficult time singing. At that time, there were no hints as to what could have been causing this. Shortly after, she would lose her voice completely, and only regain it after straining herself. This lasted until around 2006, where the loss of her singing abilities became permanent.
“I knew it was something systemic,” she says. “I knew it wasn’t age. Doctors looked at my larynx and said it was in perfect condition, that I had a teenage larynx.”
She went on to record her last two records in 2004 and 2006, with what she referred to as “a limited palette.” Additionally, her last album, “Adieu False Heart,” had to be recorded with a collaborator, Ann Savoy. The year 2009 was her last live performance before she shifted her focus to be on her personal health, struggling with her mystery illness. Her retirement, as she says, was marred with frustration as she still did not know what had stolen her voice.
At first, she attributed her symptoms to a tick-borne disease and blamed the tremors on her hands to a shoulder surgery. It wasn’t until 2013, when Linda visited a neurologist, that she received her formal diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
Before dropping out from the spotlight, she had an interview with AARP, where she told the reasons behind why she needed to retire. “No one can sing with Parkinson’s,” she told AARP. “No matter how hard you try.”
After a 5-year silence, however, Linda has made a return to the spotlight, and it's evident that her disease had not been easy for her to deal with.
Despite not having any symptoms that can reduce someone's life expectancy, Parkinson’s can significantly reduce the person’s quality of life, and even indirectly increase their risk of death through either falls or injuries. It is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the progressive destruction of the patient’s dopaminergic neurons located in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra. Due to the shortage or absence of dopamine in their brain, they begin manifesting symptoms such as tremors, involuntary movements, muscle rigidity, stiffness, and general instability.
Read on to see how Parkinson's disease turned Ronstadt's life upside down.
Photo source: Photo taken by Justin Hoch