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10 Musicians You Probably Didn’t Know Are Hearing Impaired

Did you know these well-known musical celebrities were hearing impaired?

World-renowned musical artists might appear to be unlikely candidates for hearing loss. But whether because of simple genetics or hearing damage caused by prolonged exposure to loud music during their careers, many musicians and singers struggle with some level of hearing impairment or tinnitus, either during their careers or later in life.
Here's a list of 10 musicians you probably didn’t know were hearing impaired.

1. Beethoven

Beethoven, one of the most well-known composers of all time, started to lose his hearing at age 26. He used hearing aids, including an ear horn, to manage his hearing loss. He almost completely lost his hearing a few years later. When the premiere of his Ninth Symphony ended, someone had to turn him around to accept the audience’s applause and standing ovation, because he was unable to hear it.

2. Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton attributes his tinnitus to prolonged exposure to loud music over his music career. Clapton is known as a member of the band, Cream, as well as for his solo career. He won six Grammy Awards in 1993, including Album of the Year and Song of the Year for Tears in Heaven.

3. Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson, formerly of the Beach Boys, suffers from extremely diminished hearing in his right ear from an unknown cause. There are theories that he may have been born this way, but other theories are that he suffered a blow to the head at a young age. Wilson won his first Grammy in 2005 for the instrumental track, “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow.”

4. Phil Collins

Genesis member Phil Collins announced in 2011 that he was ending his touring career due to hearing loss. His diminished hearing due to chronic noise exposure was impacting his ability to perform, which resulted in his decision. Throughout his career, Phil Collins has won Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe awards and famously wrote the soundtrack for the Disney movie Tarzan.

5. Neil Young

According to the organization Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers, 60% of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are hearing impaired. Neil Young is no exception. Young suffers from the persistent ringing in his ears caused by tinnitus, which forced him to stop recording for a few years. Neil Young has won two Grammys, one in 2009 for Best Rock Song and another in 2010 for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package.

6. Pete Townsend

Pete Townsend, guitarist for the Who, says his hearing loss is caused by long-term, loud headphone use and prolonged exposure to loud practices and concerts. In addition, bandmate Keith Moon used to use explosives to blow up his drum kit at the end of concerts. These blasts were loud and powerful enough to cause complete permanent damage to one of Townsend’s ears. “It hurts, it's painful, and it's frustrating," says Townsend.

7. Huey Lewis

Due to loud music, Huey Lewis suffers from extensive hearing loss and tinnitus. He wears hearing aids in both ears and shares his story routinely to raise awareness about hearing damage among musicians. Lewis won a Grammy in 1986 for Best Music Video - Long Form.

8. Ryan Adams

Alternative singer Ryan Adams suffers from Ménière's disease, a debilitating and incurable inner ear condition that causes spontaneous bouts of vertigo. He was forced to take a two-year break from his music career as a result. Adams has returned to the music scene and earned himself a 2015 Grammy Award Nomination for Best Rock Album for his self-titled album.

9. Sting

Sting is known for both his solo career as well as his membership in The Police. Suffering from tinnitus, Sting has become an advocate for hearing loss awareness and a supporter of the Hear The World campaign. Sting has had an impressive music career, winning his first Grammy Award in 1980 for Best Rock Instrument Performance followed by 15 more Grammys since, the most recent for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals in 2003.

10. Bono

Did you know that the lead singer of U2 got his name from a childhood friend who derived his name from a hearing aid store in Dublin, Ireland? Ironically Bono would later suffer from tinnitus and even sings about hearing impairment in his music. Bono and U2 have won several awards, including a Grammy in 1995 for Best Music Video – Long Form and for U2: Zoo TV Live From Sydney.
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