An 11-time Grammy Award winner, Ronstadt said she was diagnosed eight months ago but had symptoms for the past eight years. She believes her condition was caused by a tick bite, saying “my health has never recovered since then”. She also attributes the shaking in her hands to shoulder surgery. The 67-year-old singer whose voice was once one of the most familiar in popular music, now has to use poles to her help walk and a wheelchair when traveling.
Ronstadt first gained fame as the 20-year-old lead singer for the Stone Poneys, after the band released “A Different Drum” as a single in 1967. Although the song written by Michael Nesmith only reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, it was popular enough to set the stage for her to leave the L.A.-based folk-rock band to embark on what would eventually become a very successful career as a solo artist.
But it wasn’t until late 1974, when she released “Heart Like a Wheel” that made her a superstar. Within a few months, the album went to number one on the Billboard 200, on the strength of two hit singles – her first number one hit, “You’re No Good” and “When Will I Be Loved”. The album gained widespread popularity and stayed on the Billboard Hot 200 album chart for 51 weeks. Her next four albums all made it to the top five, including 1977”s “Simple Dreams” and 1978’s “Living in the U.S.A.”
During the 1970s, Ms. Ronstadt was the highest paid female singer in rock music, particularly in 1978, when her records earned over $60 million. At one time, she dated Governor Jerry Brown and later filmmaker George Lucas. Over her long career she released 29 studio albums, 63 singles and numerous music awards, including 11 Grammy Awards, two Academy of Country Music Awards and an Emmy Award.
A more extensive interview with AARP's Alanna Nash will be released next week on AARP.org. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. Although there is no cure, medications can help improve symptoms.