Dangers of loud music

Loud music has damaged the hearing of some of the world’s biggest rock stars – and you could be at risk, too…

It reads like a who’s who of rock royalty: Neil Young, Ozzy Osbourne, Phil Collins, Noel Gallagher, Liam Gallagher, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, will.i.am… But this isn’t the line-up of a music festival; it’s a list of world-famous musicians who have talked about having hearing problems due to loud music.

Some complain about tinnitus, but for others the issue is far more serious. In an interview with Larry King on CNN, legendary guitarist Eric Clapton said that he was partly deaf. ‘One ear is almost gone,’ he told King. The reason, he said, was simple: ‘Just loud, loud music.’

Pete Townshend, main songwriter for The Who, is another who blames loud music for his hearing difficulties. Although The Who once entered the record books (for the wrong reasons) for performing the loudest ever gig (in London on 31 May 1976, measured at 120 dB from 50 metres away), Townshend believes his hearing loss is due to ‘using earphones in the recording studio’.

Statistics presented by Cochlear show that hearing loss begins after just seven and a half minutes in front of a speaker at a rock concert. Plus, 60 per cent of musicians in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have some form of hearing loss.

It means even amateur musicians (and anyone who is exposed to loud music for long periods) should get special earplugs to protect their hearing while preserving sound quality, and everyone needs to take care when listening to music through earphones.

Are you at risk of hearing loss?

This article is written for information purposes only. None of the people mentioned in it have any connection to Cochlear or endorse any Cochlear product.