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Arts and Entertainment

Linda Ronstadt Reveals She Has Parkinson's Disease, 'Can't Sing A Note'

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Linda Ronstadt accepts the Trailblazer award onstage during the 2008 ALMA Awards at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on August 17, 2008 in Pasadena. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
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Grammy-winning singer Linda Ronstadt, now 67, reveals that she "can't sing a note," and that it took her years to figure out why; she was suffering from Parkinson's disease.

In an interview published today on the AARP blog, the singer of such hits as "Blue Bayou" and "You're No Good" said she received the diagnosis eight months ago, but began to show symptoms eight years ago.

She had initially thought that her inability to sing was due to a tick bite and that the shaking in her hands was from shoulder surgery.

She realized "there was something wrong" with her voice, as she tells AARP. "I couldn't sing and I couldn't figure out why. I knew it was mechanical." She says it didn't occur to her to to go a neurologist all this time.

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"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."

Ronstadt who once belted out hits including "Heat Wave," now says, "No one can sing with Parkinson's disease. No matter how hard you try."

She says she now walks with the aid of poles and uses a wheelchair when she travels.

Ronstadt, who lives in Tucson, AZ, made her last major public appearance in 2008 when she traveled to Los Angeles to receive an ALMA Trailblazer Award. Her all-Spanish 1987 album Canciones De Mi Padre, which paid tribute to songs she grew up with, is still the best-selling non-English-language album in U.S. music history, according to Wikipedia. As of 2013, it has sold over 2.5 million U.S. copies.

Her new memoir, Simple Dreams, is due out September 17, but it does not address her diagnosis, or the loss of her voice, according to AARP. The rest of the interview will be published on their site next week.

The singer has earned 11 Grammy awards, two Academy of Country Music awards, and an Emmy. Her albums have gone gold, platinum and multi-platinum.

Ronstadt, who was the highest-paid woman in rock in the '70s, announced her retirement in 2011.