In an in-depth and oftentimes touching interview with CBS Sunday Morning airing on Sunday, February 3, singer Linda Ronstadt opens up about what her life has been like since she started having problems with her voice in 2000 and, nine years later, feeling that she was “yelling rather than singing” during concerts, retired from music. At around this time, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and has been dealing with its debilitating effects ever since.
“When you’ve been able to do certain things all your life,” the 72-year-old explains to correspondent Tracy Smith, “like put your shoes on and brush your teeth, or whatever … when you can’t do that, you sort of go, ‘What’s this?’ You know, ‘What’s happening here? Come help me with this.’ And then you have to learn to ask people to help. That took a little doing, but I do that now because I need the help.”
Previously, she had explained to AARP The Magazine, “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.”
Linda, who was born on July 15, 1946, in Tuscon, Arizona, has had an extraordinary career that saw her reign as the Queen of Rock/Pop during the 1970s and 80s, with great success well into the 90s. And not only in terms of her album and single sales, but her incredibly successful arena concert tours as well. With a style that moved back and forth between rock, country, light opera and Latin, she earned 11 Grammy Awards, three American Music Awards, two Academy of Country Music awards, an Emmy Award and an ALMA Award — not to mention (though we will) Tony Award and Golden Globe Award nominations. Plus she is the recipient of the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (given in 2011) and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (in 2016) and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Over the course of her career, she’s released over 30 studio albums, 15 Greatest Hits albums and, this coming week will see the release of her first live album, Live in Hollywood, which features a dozen songs from an HBO concert special that aired back in 1980.
Other celebrities who are currently struggling with Parkinson’s Disease include MASH star Alan Alda, who has commented on Twitter, “I decided to let people know I have Parkinson’s to encourage others to take action. If you get a diagnosis, keep moving.” Michael J. Fox, whose many credits include the sitcom Family Ties and, of course, the Back to the Future trilogy, manages to keep a sense of humor about the whole thing, saying, “As long as I play a guy with Parkinson’s, I can do anything.” And then there’s Neil Diamond, who only last year released the following statement: “It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring. I have been so honored to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years.”
In her interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Linda says that she does hold out hope that there will someday be a cure. “I’m sure they’ll find something eventually,” she says. “They’re learning so much more about it every day. If not, I mean, I’m 72. We’re all going to die. They say people usually die with Parkinson’s. They don’t always die of it, because it’s so slow-moving. So, I figure I’ll die of something. I’ve watched people die, so I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of suffering, but I’m not afraid of dying.”
Linda’s interview on CBS Sunday Morning airs Sunday, February 3 at 9 a.m. ET/PT.