Diane Sawyer's Exclusive Interview With Linda Ronstadt

Rock star discusses her secret battle that as silenced her singing voice.
4:27 | 09/13/13

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Transcript for Diane Sawyer's Exclusive Interview With Linda Ronstadt
Finally tonight here, a rock and roll legend. For the first time, talking about the secret battle that silenced her singing voice. Linda ronstadt's memoir takes us on an extraordinary ride through her megahit career, through the glory days of rock. But tonight, right here, she's talking about her biggest challenge yet, with a message as strong as those number one hits. Here's diane with her exclusive, linda ronstadt, our "person of the week." ♪ Because everything I know ♪ ♪ to make you mine ♪ Reporter: That voice filled with so much power, so much yearning. And she was most golden in the golden age of rock. They all wanted to sing with her. Dolly parton an emmy lieu haou her ris. Even kermit the frog. ♪ When I've grown too old to dream ♪ Reporter: She had a way of making everybody their best. After all, her backup band became the eagles. Was it as great a ride as we all imagine, "almost famous." Oh, that movie? Well, my life wasn't -- I'm kind of, you know, got to send me a valentine, the girls doing hookups now? I feel like my own victorian grandmother. I mean, hookups, come on. I wasn't into hookups. But I was quite busy out there. I had lots of very nice boyfriends. Reporter: She was born in arizona, mexican on her father's side, and at 4 years old, she already had the voice that would earn her 11 grammys. The first woman ever to have four platinum albums in a row. She says about a decade ago, she felt something was going wrong. Instead of the joy, the strain. And I knew it was mechanical and muscular. Takes a tremendous amount of effort to make the vocal chords vibrate. My elevator would go to the wrong floor all the time. But there was no diagnosis. She sang publicly for the last time in 2009. Toward the end, I really was just shouting. I was trying to recraft the way I sang, for years. And I was, I found it, kind of like a broadway belt. ♪ The sun will come up tomorrow ♪ which I can't even do now. Reporter: And after the singing, the physical exhaustion. It was hard to comb mill hair. It was hard to brush my teeth, wash my hair. Hard to get my hands up over my head. You go to a doctor, tell them you're tired? He's tired, also it was the last thing I suspected it was parkinson's disease. Reporter: Even grandmother had parkinson's, it wasn't until she got the classic tremor in her hands. A doctor said the words. Did the floor drop out from under you? Yeah, there was a kind of holy moment, where you go, oh, this has happened. So, it's just, you know, somebody said to me, another parkinson's person said, life after death isn't the question. It's life before death. So, what are you going to life? Reporter: What do you do with anger? You must get angry. Oh, I get plenty angry. Especially when I look at the immigration laws. Angry that you're deeming with this. Deeming with parkinson's. Oh, what can you do? I wake up in the morning, I can walk and talk. It's a good day. There will will probably come a day when I can't do those things. Reporter: A life today of reading and loving other people's music since she's lost her own. I can't sing at all. I used to sing in the shower all the time. 90% -- 99% of my singing was private and personal. Very tiny percentage of it was done on the sage. Reporter: But as she writes in her book, there are so many ways to leave behind a song. Someone asked me while people sing. I answered that they sing for many of the same reasons the birds sing. Perhaps more than the birds do. Humans hold a grudge. They sing to complain about how they have been wrong and how to avoid it in the future. They sing to is generations won't forget what the current generation endured or dreamed or delighted in. And so we choose linda ronstadt. Bravely sharing her struggle with us.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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