Celebrities are idolized and venerated by millions of people. However, what most of us are not aware of is that some of these celebrated artists suffer from tinnitus… Tinnitus is a physical ailment which does not discriminate. It can affect everybody and everyone. No exceptions. Ironically enough, artists are usually the most vulnerable, as they are particularly exposed to incessant heavy sounds.
The sporadic or uninterrupted presence of ringing sounds in one’s ears without any apparent external source is medically defined as tinnitus. Some people experience huge difficulties dealing with tinnitus. Tinnitus can be occasional, discontinuous or even continuous. Presbycusis and sound traumas are often cited as the most common causes. This article lists 10 prominent musical artists and their daily hearing struggles.
It’s like a young sports player getting an injury. I feel sorry for athletes, being 24, 25 and they have an injury. I’m 68. And I’ve had a pretty good run. I’ve been in one of the best bands in the world.
AC/DC’s Brian Johnson has declared suffering from tinnitus since he attended the racetrack Watkins Glen International in New York State in 2008. He believes his tinnitus was caused by ignorance. Not believing it at first he expresses, “I felt a little ‘pop’ in my ear. I was like, what the heck was that? But it was fine. All that happened was I had suffered tinnitus for about six or seven months. But it cleared up and then I was fine again”.
His hearing issues resurfaced at the band’s Winnipeg gig in 2015. The band, playing outside during a rainstorm, caused water to creep into the sinuses around his ear. Following this circumstance, he decided to go see a Sydney-based specialist who quite frigidly told him that the fluid present inside his ear had crystallized. As a consequence, the crystals had been eating away his eardrums. Logically this made hearing anything at all very difficult.
Johnson’s doctors attempting to break down the formed crystals, soon realized that he would never regain his hearing completely. His hearing issues ultimately led to his departure from the band’s world tour Rock or Burst.
We did think that perhaps we should turn down the sound but we also knew that – both to play and to listen to – music is far more exciting when it is loud.
Dire Straits’ bass guitarist John Illsley has recently admitted suffering from a 30% hearing loss as well as from tinnitus. He explains that his present hearing issues were provoked by general naïveté as monitors were turned up to the maximum during the band’s gigs.
As a result, he legitimately recommends the use of attenuating earplugs which filter sound but do not block it altogether whenever confronted with loud music which can be perceived as too loud.
I don’t know what silence is anymore. Music is the only thing which eases my pain. I can’t be still. Work calms me down. I can’t be quiet, as that’s when I notice the ringing in my ears.
Will.I.Am, one of the founding members of the Black Eyed Peas and a famous DJ, has also painstakingly announced suffering from tinnitus. The only thing that eases his pain is listening to music as that enables him to not hear the shrill, sonorous ringing.
When I went to have my hearing tested, I had supersonic hearing. I hear more. It’s annoying because I long to hear silence.
Contrary to John Illsley and Will.I.Am, Barbra Streisand’s hearing issues were not caused by heavy sounds. She has had tinnitus since she was aged nine. She recommends wearing earplugs or protective headphones when listening to music to avoid hearing loss.
Jeff Beck, according to some the fifth best guitarist of all time, also suffers from tinnitus in his left ear after having been exposed to heavy sounds without wearing any earplugs.
Eric Clapton, a former member of Cream and a legendary guitarist, also suffers from tinnitus and hearing loss due to performing loud concerts without wearing earplugs. To keep the hearing he has left, he now prefers listening to classical themed music compositions.
In 2011, Phil Collins, the former singer and drummer of Genesis, announced that he wanted to leave the music scene due to health issues, more particularly, because his hearing had dangerously diminished over the years. Collins now relies on hearing aids provided by his doctors.
Neil Young has most certainly had a huge impact on the music industry considering his 30 albums. He’s been suffering from tinnitus since the early 90s and was unapologetically forced to stop recording for a few years. Not wanting to hear loud sounds anymore, he devoted himself to creating soft sounds. This personal stance is epitomized by his most recent songs such as “Harvest Moon”.
Townsend is mainly known for being both songwriter and guitarist of the rock band The Who. He’s been suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus in both ears due to the loud noise exposure concert performances imply.
Because of the unbearable nature of tinnitus, he decided to initiate the conception of the non-profit hearing advocacy group H.E.A.R. (Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers). He makes use of custom in-ear monitors so that he can go on playing concerts.