10 famous musicians you know… Who suffer with hearing loss.
Hearing loss is not a rare thing in the rock ‘n’ roll world. We all know how loud it can get out there, at the gigs. This can cause significant hearing damage over time for the performers, such as tinnitus, etc. The good thing is that a hearing problem can’t stop you from playing music in your head. We all know the story of Ludwig van Beethoven, but here are ten more musicians that had suffered from various types of hearing loss.
The U2 lead singer. He even sings about it in his lyrics. Believe it or not… Bono, derived his name from a hearing aid store in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland which had a sign that read ‘Bonavox Hearing Aids’! Ironically, he later suffered from tinnitus and even sings about hearing impairment.
One of the greatest musicians and songwriters of all time, Neil Young, has left an indelible mark on the world of music. He was even elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame not once, but twice!
He has created over thirty unique albums and contributed to countless more. Through all of his astonishing career, Neil has suffered from tinnitus, that is a quite common affliction for rock stars. It involves a persistent ringing in the ears, some times even connected to a loss of hearing.
Young claims that mixing his 1991 album “Weld” really affected his hearing.
“That’s why I really regret it. I hurt my ears, and they’ll never be the same again.”
He also explained, “I made ‘Harvest Moon’ because I didn’t want to hear any loud sounds. I still have a little bit of tinnitus, but fortunately, 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 OK.”
Grammy-winning alternative singer Ryan Adams suffers from Ménière’s disease, a debilitating and incurable inner ear condition that causes spontaneous bouts of vertigo.
Starting with his first solo record in 2000, Adams, 36, has released almost one album a year. He was forced to take a two-year break from his music career as a result. It was unexpected for his audience, as Adams hasn’t stopped writing songs since he traded a skateboard for a guitar when he was 15 years old in North Carolina. Then, in 2009, the rocker announced that he was quitting his band, the Cardinals, and “taking a step back from music.”
He later explained:
‘I did my last live shows in March 2009, but I was really suffering from an inner ear disease called Meniere’s disease and all the stuff that goes along with it, which is a lot of vertigo, balance issues, and problems with depth perception. When I was on stage, with one shift in the lighting, I couldn’t quite see where to put my foot, and it made it really, really difficult for me to just do what I needed to do with my band. Also, I started experiencing tinnitus, which started in 2005, maybe even before. I actually was missing tours and shows, like little tours, from these intense ear infections and basically, they started to graduate into this thing where somewhere around 2006, 2007, I was diagnosed. But the tinnitus was an overwhelming noise that never stopped in my left ear, 24 hours a day.’
Adams has returned to the music scene and has earned himself a 2015 Grammy Award Nomination for Best Rock Album for his self-titled album.
Sting joins a list of famous rockers who have openly discussed their hearing loss. He has also previously advocated for conscious hearing and safe listening practices as an ambassador for the Hear the World Foundation.
The singer remains positive and says:
“I’m fairly deaf and ‘what?’ is my favorite word.”
He won his first Grammy Award in the ’80s for Best Rock Instrument Performance followed by 15 more Grammys since.
The Beach Boys mastermind has been partially deaf in his right ear for most of his life. Some say, that the reason for his illness could be due to the fact that he was beaten by his father or/and the neighborhood kids. In addition to that, Wilson suffers from auditory hallucinations since the mid-60’s, due to his LSD drug abuse. Despite this condition, he orchestrated one of the most sonically gorgeous albums of all time, The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds.”
The singer gave up music in 2011 for medical reasons. Phil Collins developed sudden deafness in one ear owing to a viral infection this year.
Collins chose to walk away from performing, saying:
“In a way, I felt like I was a slave to the thing [his career]. This was like: ‘Sorry man, I can’t do it.’ That’s God saying: ‘Time to stop.’”
The 29-year-old electronic artist once canceled her entire European tour due to a case of tinnitus.
She tweeted: “It’s depressing to cancel more shows, but we have to cancel all Grimes dates in Europe due to health issues 🙁 im having hearing problems and im supposed to limit my exposure to loud noise for as long as possible.”
She even reports she once pressed her ears against the speakers at an Animal Collective gig.
The Coldplay front man revealed his 10-year battle with tinnitus in 2012, saying the condition gives him excruciating headaches. Since he started wearing ear plugs, his tinnitus hasn’t worsened.
In January 2013 the British Tinnitus Association has announced that it created the collection of songs, that were written by musicians with tinnitus (Chris Martin, Wil.i.am, and others) to raise awareness about the disease. The further fate of the collection is unknown.
Due to years of metal and ‘alternate lifestyle,’ Ozzy has suffered significant hearing loss. But surprisingly enough his disease didn’t progress too much. Geneticists are actually studying Osbourne’s genes to determine why his notorious drug abuse and body-ravaging lifestyle haven’t killed him over the years.
Number 10…”Who” could it be? Pete Townshend, that’s “who”.
Being a part of one of the world’s loudest bands gave all four members of The Who lifelong battles with hearing loss. However, Townshend has the most severe, debilitating case. Despite this difficulty, he has persisted, continuing to play extravagant live shows.
“I have severe hearing damage. It’s manifested itself as tinnitus, ringing in the ears at frequencies that I play guitar. It hurts, it’s painful, and it’s frustrating.”
“My right ear, which encounters my own edgy guitar and the machine gun strokes of the drums, has suffered badly. Luckily for me, I still have my left ear, which seems to be less messed up. When I’ve worked solo in the past five years, I’ve not used drums. This has meant I could play more quietly I think. With The Who, there is, of course, no way to play the old songs without drums. I’ve no idea what I can do about this. I am unable to perform with in-ear monitors. In fact, they increase the often unbearable tinnitus I suffer after shows.”
When you think about your own struggles with hearing loss, you may wish to also reflect on the fact that it can affect anyone, as you have read about these famous musicians who struggle just as much as you may be struggling. Hearing loss does not recognize fame or fortune.
Image credit: UltimateGuitar
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