Linda Ronstadt is speaking out about her battle with Parkinson’s after the degenerative central nervous system disease robbed her of her iconic singing voice.
A mainstay of the L.A. singer-songwriter scene in the ’70s, Ronstadt has sold over 100 million records over her decades-long career, scoring smashes like “Different Drum,” “Blue Bayou,” “You’re No Good,” and “It’s So Easy.” But today, her hit-making voice has gone silent. “I can’t even sing in the shower,” Ronstadt tells Tracy Smith in an upcoming episode of CBS Sunday Morning set to air on Feb. 3.
She says she first experienced vocal difficulties back in 2000 and the problem became progressively worse. Within a few years, she was forced to shout rather than sing during her packed performances. By 2009 she announced her retirement from the concert stage, and four years later she received her life-changing diagnosis.
“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?’” she says. “You know, what’s happening here? Come help me with this. 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.”
Though she can no longer perform her classic songs, the 72-year-old music legend occasionally appears at events, most recently filling a theater in Los Angeles to discuss her art and her life today.
Through it all, Ronstadt says she remains optimistic. “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. So, they say people usually die with Parkinson’s. They don’t always die of it because it’s so slow-moving. 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.”
RELATED VIDEO: Linda Ronstadt Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame
Ronstadt was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. Though she was unable to attend the salute due to health reasons, a star-studded group consisting of Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, Carrie Underwood, Sheryl Crow, the Eagles’ Glenn Frey and Emmylou Harris sang Ronstadt’s hit “It’s So Easy” in her honor.