CELEBRITIES WITH TINNITUS
Even in the glamorous world of celebrities, the harsh impact of tinnitus symptoms can strike unexpectedly. It is a condition that knows no boundaries, affecting people from all walks of life, including those in the limelight. Whether it’s due to excessive noise exposure during their youth, the explosive environments of film sets, the electrifying sounds on stage, or even something completely out of their control, celebrities are not immune to the persistent ringing, buzzing, or hissing sounds that characterize tinnitus.
SINGERS & MUSICIANS
It may be no shock to hear that musicians commonly suffer from tinnitus, due to their prolonged exposure to loud music and repetitive sound frequencies. The nature of their work often involves performing or practicing in loud environments, whether on stage or in recording studios. Exposure to high decibel levels over time can damage the delicate hair cells in the inner ear responsible for transmitting sound signals to the brain, which can lead to tinnitus. Additionally, musicians may frequently use in-ear monitors, amplifiers, or headphones, which can further contribute to the risk of developing this condition.
While musicians often take precautions, such as wearing earplugs or using soundproof booths, the cumulative effect of noise exposure can still take its toll on their hearing health. It underscores the importance of hearing protection and regular monitoring for musicians to mitigate the risks associated with tinnitus and other hearing-related issues.
The singer, songwriter, and former member of the British band Genesis, sold over 200 million records during his successful music career. However, he made the difficult decision to temporarily retire from touring and performing after experiencing a sudden loss of hearing in his left ear. Collins vividly remembers the moment when his hearing changed—a hissing “sssssh” sound followed by his left ear shutting down as if he was submerged underwater. Fortunately, with the help of hearing devices and a diagnosis that revealed stress as a contributing factor, his hearing has improved. Rather than allowing the setback to defeat him, Collins saw it as a sign to slow down, and he has since resumed touring with a less demanding schedule.
In his autobiography, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ lead singer Anthony Kiedis recounts the moment when he first became aware of his tinnitus. It was during a concert in 1993, and he and the band’s drummer, Chad Smith, noticed a persistent ringing in their ears that didn’t subside. This incident resulted in lasting hearing damage for both of them. Additionally, Kiedis has openly admitted to participating in stunts like jumping from buildings into swimming pools, which could have further exacerbated his ear-related issues.
Since the age of 25, Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay, has been dealing with hearing damage and tinnitus, which he primarily attributes to his past habit of listening to loud music as a teenager. After seeking medical advice, Chris received a warning that his music career could be in jeopardy if he didn’t take precautions to protect his ears during performances. As a result, the band started using specially tailored earplugs for safeguarding their hearing during live concerts.
Ozzy Osbourne, best known for his involvement with the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, has been on his own journey with tinnitus. In an interview with the Sunday Times of London, Ozzy opened up about his experience with tinnitus and its effects on his life. According to Ozzy, he suffers from ongoing tinnitus symptoms, which means he constantly hears a ringing noise in his ears. This persistent sound has also contributed to some degree of hearing loss, which his wife Sharon humorously refers to as him being “conveniently deaf.” Ozzy describes the noise in his head as a “Whee!” sound that he experiences all the time.
Eric Clapton, the guitarist known as “Slowhand,” has been dealing with both hearing loss and tinnitus. Throughout his career with bands like Cream, The Yardbirds, and Derek and the Dominos, Clapton achieved remarkable success, being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times and winning eighteen Grammy Awards. However, his habit of playing his guitar amp at maximum volume, referred to as “turning it up to 11,” led to constant exposure to loud noise and ultimately resulted in permanent hearing loss. Clapton acknowledges his own irresponsibility and belief in invincibility regarding his condition.
Lars Ulrich, the drummer of Metallica, performed many concerts without hearing protection, which led to the development of tinnitus and hearing loss starting in 1988. His condition worsened over time, causing him to experience auditory hallucinations like waking up to turn off a non-existent television. Ulrich now advocates for the use of earplugs during concerts and urges younger musicians to protect their hearing. He emphasizes the permanent nature of hearing damage and encourages young people to take better care of their hearing, highlighting that once hearing is gone, it could be too late.
In an interview with The Sun, will.i.am, the renowned hip-hop artist and member of the Black Eyed Peas, candidly shared his ongoing struggle with tinnitus. The artist revealed that he has forgotten what silence sounds like and finds relief only through music, which eases his pain caused by the condition. will.i.am mentioned that he works extensively to drown out the constant ringing in his ears, acknowledging that his condition continues to worsen. Although he did not discuss specific therapies or treatments he has tried, visits to his audiologist confirmed significant hearing loss and an auditory profile resembling that of an older individual.
Pete Townshend, renowned songwriter and guitarist of The Who, has faced the consequences of his passion for loud music in both recording studios and live concerts over the years. The damage to his hearing is severe, with complete deafness in one ear, partial hearing loss in the other, and persistent tinnitus. To adapt to his condition, Townshend now relies on computer programs in the recording studio to assist with high-frequency sounds that are beyond his auditory range. During his live performances, he takes precautions to protect what little hearing he has left by using specially crafted hearing protection. Additionally, Townshend actively supports the non-profit advocacy group called Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers (HEAR), contributing to their mission of raising awareness about hearing loss. Townshend attributes his tinnitus to a memorable incident during a 1967 television appearance on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, where drummer Keith Moon’s explosive-filled drum kit caused an excessively loud bang, directly affecting Townshend’s hearing.
Musician and singer Huey Lewis began experiencing tinnitus in his late 60s following a concert in Dallas. He described feeling as if a jet engine was right beside him in his hotel room, and he struggled to hear his bandmates. Unfortunately, this led to the cancellation of their remaining 40 concerts that year. Eventually, Lewis was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, which resulted in his retirement from performing.
Other singers such as Bob Dylan, Bono, Sting, and many more have also shared their struggles with tinnitus. Despite their tremendous talent and success, they have faced the relentless intrusion of ringing in their ears. Their stories serve as a powerful reminder that even amidst the challenges of tinnitus, the passion for music can endure, and the ability to inspire and connect with audiences remains unyielding.
Sylvester Stallone, the iconic action star, has starred in a number of films that frequently immerse him in intense action sequences filled with powerful blows and explosive scenes. Unsurprisingly, his extensive involvement in such movies eventually led to the development of tinnitus. In fact, the impact of this condition on Stallone’s life became so significant that it was even depicted in one of his films, Cop Land. This movie took the bold step of illustrating Stallone’s character grappling with the challenges of tinnitus and hearing loss, skillfully capturing the debilitating effects these conditions can have on individuals. Stallone’s personal experience with tinnitus undoubtedly influenced his desire to authentically portray these struggles on the silver screen.
Steve Martin, a renowned comedian, actor, and former regular host of Saturday Night Live, has been coping with tinnitus since 1986. His exposure to loud music and performing in front of noisy crowds, combined with a gunfight scene during the filming of his movie The Three Amigos, contributed to his hearing loss and tinnitus. However, Martin has managed to adapt to the condition, expressing that “You just get used to it.” In 1992, he acknowledged the potential challenges of dealing with it, but he has taken the proactive step of using hearing devices to assist in managing his symptoms.
Following a loud explosion during the filming of Star Trek, William Shatner experienced persistent tinnitus for several years. This condition was triggered by standing too close to a special effects explosion while shooting the Star Trek episode “Arena.” Shatner described the sound as resembling television static and endured feelings of agony and torment until he sought treatment. He visited an audiologist who was able to replicate the sound of his tinnitus and developed a personalized therapy plan. With time, Shatner successfully managed his tinnitus and reached a point where it no longer bothered him, similar to others who have achieved habituation with the condition. Today, he rarely thinks about his tinnitus unless someone brings it up.
Liza Minnelli experiences tinnitus and attributes it to her father. This celebrated actress and singer holds her father responsible for her tinnitus, which developed during a momentous occasion. During the 1973 Academy Awards, where she received the Best Actress award for her remarkable performance in the musical drama film Cabaret, Liza Minnelli and her father were seated together. When her name was announced as the winner, her father’s overwhelming excitement led him to shout directly into her ear, resulting in lasting damage. As a consequence, she currently deals with tinnitus in her left ear.
Gerard Butler developed a serious ear infection at the age of 10, leading to tinnitus and partial hearing loss in his right ear. This affected his smile, resulting in a slightly crooked smile. Interestingly, he discovered that others with similar smiles also had hearing difficulties in one ear.
Barbra Streisand, a well-known actress and singer, has been dealing with tinnitus since she was nine years old. However, she didn’t seek treatment for a long time, which caused significant challenges in her personal and professional life. Eventually, as an adult, Streisand visited an audiologist who provided her with a proper diagnosis and helped her take measures to reduce stress and alleviate her tinnitus symptoms.
Other actors such as Halle Berry, Keanu Reeves, Whoopi Goldberg, Rob Lowe, David Letterman, Alex Trebek, and even former president Ronald Reagan have also grappled with the challenges of tinnitus. Despite the unseen burden of tinnitus, they have continued to grace our screens, entertaining and inspiring audiences with their talent. These actors serve as a poignant reminder that behind the glitz and glamor of the entertainment industry, there are individuals facing real-life obstacles, including the impact of hearing health. Their experiences shed light on the importance of understanding and supporting those with tinnitus, highlighting the need for increased awareness and research to find effective solutions for this widespread condition.