No matter how you put it, exposure to loud music for long amounts of time is dangerous. Hearing damage is often permanent and hard to cure, thus hearing protection is key!
Of course, you know this already. But it doesn’t only apply to you. The people playing the music are also at risk – usually even more so.
Still, a lot of those artists managed to fuck up their ears! All because they didn’t use hearing protection. Check it out – you’ll be surprised how many you recognize! Make sure not to join this club though…
Famous artists with tinnitus
“When I first started playing in bands I never wore hearing protection and we played as loud as we could. One night I came home from a punk rock show and my ears were ringing, as they often did. And they were still ringing the next day. And the next. Ever since then I’ve always worn some sort of hearing protection when exposed to very loud music. Because I realised that once my hearing is gone it will never return.” Wise words from Moby himself. He found out the hard way how important ear plugs are!
Hip-hop artist and Black Eyed Peas member Will.I.Am. revealed he suffers from tinnitus in 2010. “I can’t be quiet, as that’s when I notice the ringing in my ears,” he describes. “There’s always a beep there every day, all day. Like now. I don’t know exactly how long I’ve had this, but it’s gradually got worse.”
Musical millipede Neil Young is also a victim of hearing damage. “I made ‘Harvest Moon’ because I didn’t want to hear any loud sounds. I still have a little bit of tinnitus, but now I’m not as sensitive to loud sounds as I was for a year after the mixing of ‘Weld’. My hearing’s not perfect but it’s okay.”, he says.
Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath)
Once upon a time, the bat-eating King of Darkness himself had a magazine column called “Ask Dr. Ozzy”. When someone wrote they had developed an intense ringing in their ears after listening to Black Sabbath, Ozzy writes a response in which he says:
“I suffer from permanent tinnitus because of all the headbanging I’ve done. Which means I’ve got this constant ringing in my ears, which has also made me somewhat deaf (or “conveniently deaf”, as Sharon calls it). It’s like this WHEEEE!! noise in my head all the time. Should have worn earplugs, I guess. I still headbang, mind you.” It’s sometimes said that tinnitus makes it difficult to stay sane… but it seems that ship sailed a long time ago when it comes to Ozzy anyway.
Another legendary name on this list. He has said his tinnitus was “a sign from God that it’s time to stop”. One of his ears went deaf in 2000 because of a viral infection. A professional musicians’ nightmare. Yet, he was relieved. “In a way, I felt like I was a slave to the thing,” he says, meaning his career.
Regarded as one of the most influential guitarists of the world, Eric Clapton has been rocking for years. He was known for playing loud and “turning his amp up to eleven”. It’s also the reason, according to Clapton, why he suffers from tinnitus today. “I had two 100-watt stacks at the height of things and I would turn one on for guitar solos. It was mad!” the 67-year-old has said.
Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis talks about tinnitus in his autobiography. He says years of touring with his band is the cause of the permanent ringing in his ears. Anthony has also admitted he used to jump from buildings in to swimming pools… which isn’t exactly good for your eardrums either! Once, he even broke his back doing this.
Pete Townshend (The Who)
Pete is a member of The Who, the famous rock band. With a career that spans over 50 years, his ears have suffered quite some damage. Townshend suffers from tinnitus as a result of his extensive exposure to loud music. It’s no surprise: The Who’s concert in London on 31 May 1976 was listed by Guinness Book of Records as the “Loudest Concert Ever” at that time. The volume level was measured at 126 decibels 32 meters from the stage.
Chris Martin (Coldplay)
Five years ago, the Coldplay star revealed he has been suffering from tinnitus for more than a decade. He only began to wear earplugs and protect his hearing after doctors warned him. Luckily, he now makes sure his own children are always protected when it comes to loud noises and music. He also warns other youngsters to avoid the same fate and use earplugs as hearing protection!
Brian Johnson (AC/DC)
A very recent case. About a year ago, longtime AC/DC leadsinger Brian Johnson announced he had to stop touring with the band. Fans thought there were issues within the band itself. Until Johnson released a statement in which he clarified the situation. Doctors advised him to either quit performing live or face “total hearing loss.” “That was the darkest day of my professional life,” Johnson said of the diagnosis in the statement.
Thomas Bangalter (Daft Punk)
In 2002, one half of Daft Punk announced that he would not play in clubs anymore to protect his hearing. He had started to develop tinnitus and even potential deafness. It was later stated that Bangalter had recovered from the condition. It was stated that “he had a bit of a scare and thought he’d damaged his ear and had to obviously take drastic steps to see how bad the damage was.” It seems harder is not always better!
Even though she has been recorded calling her tinnitus “super-sonic hearing”, Mrs Streisand had had a ringing in her ears since she was 9 years old. She says she was afraid to find out what it was, but has learned to live with the constant ringing in her ears.
Protection is important
How many of these artists with tinnitus did you recognize?
Whether you’re a musician yourself or just a music enthousiast, hearing protection is very important! Think about these guys and gals next time you head out to a party or festival. Get a quality pair of ear plugs. It might just save your ears! Not sure what makes for a great pair of earplugs for musicians? Let us help you out!
Do you like to party?
If your answer was “yes”, you are probably exposed to loud music on a regular basis. And why is that? Because our brain loves loud music!