Grammy-winning singer Linda Ronstadt has revealed to AARP that she has Parkinson’s disease.
In an interview to be published next week on AARP.org, Ronstadt, 67, says that she realized something was wrong eight years ago when she found herself unable to sing and didn’t know 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,” she said. Although the interview excerpt didn’t specify the tick-borne illness Ronstadt has, the AARP linked to a page on Lyme disease.
Ronstadt says she also experienced shaky hands, but thought it was because of an operation she had on her shoulder.
“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,” she revealed. “No one can sing with Parkinson’s disease, no matter how hard you try.”
Ronstadt, 67, said that she was diagnosed eight months ago, long after her symptoms first emerged. According to the AARP interview, she now uses a wheelchair when traveling, and has aid poles to assist her when she walks.
The singer has won 11 Grammys, two Academy of Country Music Awards, and even won an Emmy, for the PBS special, “Great Performances: Canciones de Mi Padre.” She first came to prominence in the 1960s as lead singer of the Stone Poneys before embarking on a solo career. Her hits include “You’re No Good,” “When Will I Be Loved,” “That’ll Be the Day,” “Blue Bayou” and “It’s So Easy.”
Ronstadt also made headlines for dating California Gov. Jerry Brown during his 1980 presidential bid. She was later engaged to “Star Wars” creator George Lucas.
The singer’s memoir, “Simple Dreams,” will be published Sept. 17, but she told AARP that it does not discuss her illness.