14 Musicians with PD and Their Hit Songs - PMD Alliance

“Parkinson’s patients have a special interest in art and have creative hobbies incompatible with their physical limitations.”
-Professor Rivka Inzelberg 

A few years ago, Rivka Inzelberg of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Sagol Neuroscience Center, noticed something: people with Parkinson disease seemed to have an outsized imagination and capacity for creativity. She and her colleagues devised a study to find out if it was true. 

The results were clear: people with Parkinson’s responded to abstract pictures with a wider range of interpretations and more symbolic meaning than those without the disease. They were brimming with creativity. 

Some theories suggest the surge in creativity is due to medication: there’s a well-established link between dopamine and creativity, and it’s possible the dopamine boost provided by drugs like levodopa propel people with Parkinson’s to uncharacteristic artistic heights. Or perhaps the answer is more subtle: receiving a movement disorder diagnosis may stir the soul to deeper reflection and a profound sense of time, which is the ripe ground for creation.  

Whatever the cause, we believe everyone impacted by a movement disorder not only holds within them the power to create, but the power to find joy, beauty, and a good time in the creations of others, and that includes swaying to the beat of great music or singing along in the shower. 

1. Linda Ronstadt

 I Can’t Let Go and Lose Again 

2. Ozzy Osbourne

Mama I’m Coming Home and Flying High Again 

3. Neil Diamond

Sweet Caroline and Cracklin Rosie

4. Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire


5. Benny Mardones

Into the Night

6. Jean Shepard

The Tip of My Fingers

7. Jimmy Giuffre

The Swamp People

8. Jerney Kaagman of Earth & Fire


9. Martha Johnson of Martha and the Muffins

Black Station/White Station

10. Glenn Tipton – Judas Priest 

Victim of Changes and Breaking the Law  

11. Jeff Cook – Alabama

Then Again and There’s No Way

12. Jimmy Knepper

Primrose Path

13. Johnny Cash (13)

I Walk the Line and Folsom Prison Blues

14. Daryl Dragon – Captain & Tennille

Love Will Keep Us Together 

If the music has you feeling inspired, check out our Watch List, too, featuring replays of our top music-themed online programs:



    I found this subject very interesting, as a veteran harmonica player (50 years+) and with 21 years of living with my Parkinson’s. I have recently started using the typical PD hand tremor I have as a positive distinction to my playing. Having tremor only in one hand, my right, I will hold the microphone with my right hand and the harmonica with my left. The tremor while I play is “allowed” to go wild, not held back. This causes a great vibrato effect that is sought after on many songs (the wah wah sound). It also helps disguise my stage-fright, or simple nervousness I often have when playing before an audience. A shaky right hand is often a sign of that nervousness. But when I use it on stage, people can hear that sound and see the cause, my shaking microphone. Not many use this “technique”, so I think I am using my “disease” to make my sound distinctive. In short, I use the lemons I’m handed (PD) and make delicious lemonade out of them. I am now calling this move my “lemon-squeeze” movement. Now this may or may not be useful to other harmonica players with PD, as some don’t have much control over the hand shaking frequency, or they cannot voluntarily stop the tremor by directing the mind. Right now I can do it, and it works well for me.

  • Jon Woodland says:

    Thanks for this cool article. And thanks for your comment John Giannico. I was just diagnosed with Parkinson’s on Tuesday. I play bass and keys and just built a home recording studio last year as my retirement gig. https://edgetonestudios.com

    It’s still so early for me that I don’t even know if I’ll be able to play bass properly again, even for a period of time. I guess this article gives me some hope that I can still pursue music with this diagnosis.

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