Linda Ronstadt Opens Up About Living With Parkinson’s Disease, Discusses Her Legacy on ‘CBS Sunday Morning’
In a new interview with CBS This Morning, iconic singer-songwriter Linda Ronstadt is opening up about her life-changing Parkinson's disease diagnosis, and how she has come to terms with living with the disease. The singer and journalist Tracy Smith discuss Ronstadt's life post-diagnosis, her move away from the spotlight and her thoughts on her legacy.
Ronstadt first shared the news of her Parkinson's diagnosis in the summer of 2013; the singer announced in an interview with AARP that she had been diagnosed with the disease and, as a result, "can't sing a note" anymore. In her CBS Sunday Morning interview, which will air on Feb. 3, Ronstadt tells Smith that she "can't even sing in the shower."
Ronstadt began to have problems with her voice a little more than a decade before her official diagnosis, CBS reports, and in 2009, she was forced to announce her retirement. Four years later, the cause of her troubles was revealed -- and, at that time, Ronstadt was finding it difficult to do more than sing.
"When you’ve been able to do certain things all your life, 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,'" she explains. "And then you have to learn to ask people to help, and that — that took a little doing. But I do that now, because I need the help."
Ronstadt says that she is hopeful that research will find a cure for Parkinson's -- a progressive nervous system disorder that affects the bodily movements of those with the disease -- "eventually," noting that researchers are "learning so much more about it every day." If they can't cure her, though, she's come to terms with it.
"I mean, I’m 72. We’re all going to die. So, they say people usually die with Parkinson’s. They don’t always die of it because it’s so slow-moving," Ronstadt shares. "So, I’ll figure I’ll die of something. And I’ve watched people die, so I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of suffering, but I’m not afraid of dying.”
A legend in country, rock and pop, Ronstadt is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. She declined to attend her 2014 induction ceremony but released a memoir, Simple Dreams, and has done sporadic "A Conversation With Linda" events involving a multimedia presentation covering her storied career. Speaking to The Arizona Republic in early 2018, Ronstadt said these engagements "get me out of the house and around the country a little bit."
"I get a little sampling of what’s going on. And I get to tell my side of the story," she adds. "My story was mostly told by journalists or scandal magazines or whatever. So I get to tell my side of the story, and I like that."