One of the mightiest – and most beautiful – voices in the history of Rock and Roll has been silenced. Linda Ronstadt has disclosed, in an interview with AARP that was posted on their page earlier today, that she has lost the ability to sing due to an undiagnosed Parkinson’s disease. What a horror – not knowing what’s ailing you, or misdiagnosing yourself (her hands began trembling soon after a shoulder operation years ago, which she assumed was the cause).
This is sad for those of us who have been fans of her perfect, clarion voice for decades. The scope of her work spans more than just the Rock and Country genres she’s excelled in starting in the late 1960 lasting through the early Aughts – from Opera to Broadway; from the traditional orchestrated Pop of Nelson Riddle to her roots-based, familial Mariachi collections; from the classic collaborative “Trio” albums (where Ronstadt’s supernal gift was matched with the supreme vocals of Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris) back to the top of the Pop charts with Aaron Neville; from her “Western Wall: The Tuscan Sessions” (with Emmylou again) to her recent wonderful allying with folk singer Ann Savoy (2006’s “Adieu, False Heart”) – her canon is rich with superlative, archetypal work. (Her 2000 Christmas release, “A Merry Little Christmas” is one of the most haunting holiday releases and is on replay at my home during the season.)
The half-talents and harlots of today aren’t worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as Ronstadt. But if there is anything good that can come from this awful news it’s that hopefully a new generation will rediscover her extraordinary body of work and revel in the voice that has thrilled and enchanted millions for decades.