Why Can’t Linda Ronstadt Sing Anymore?

Bad news for Linda Ronstadt fans.

The 67-year-old singer of ’70s and ’80s hits as You’re No Good, Hurt So Bad and Don’t Know Much, has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, and is no longer able to sing:

No one can sing with Parkinson’s disease. No matter how hard you try.

Ronstadt disclosed this information in an article for AARP magazine yesterday, although she diagnosed with the neurological disorder eight months ago. Ronstadt says she mostly likely has had the disease for possibly eight years. Her initial symptoms of hand tremors and difficulty controlling her “singing” muscles were initially thought to be due to a tick infection and a shoulder injury.

Ronstadt now uses poles to assist her when she walks on uneven surfaces and must travel in a wheelchair.

The 11-time Grammy winner will publish her memoir, Simple Dreams, in September.

basal-gangliaParkinson’s Disease (PD) is a brain disorder of the nerve cells (neurons) in the brain that control movement called the basal ganglia. One part of the basal ganglia, called the substantia nigra, produces a chemical called dopamineDopamine is important because it allows for the smooth movement of muscles in the body.

For unknown reasons, in Parkinson’s Disease these brain cells are damaged and stop producing dopamine.  When the level of dopamine drops below a certain amount, noticeable symptoms of PD begin to occur. These symptoms include:

  • Tremor (shaking) of the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
  • Slowness of movement
  • Rigidity (stiffness) of the arms, legs and trunk
  • Poor balance and coordination

Currently, there is no cure for PD. Treatment primarily consists of drugs that either replace or mimic dopamine, which can lessen symptoms. Surgery may be used as a last resort in a selective group of patients.

What’s your favorite Linda Ronstadt song?  Here’s mine:


Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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