It’s not a pleasant thought, but most people opt not to use earplugs, a very simple and inexpensive way to prevent damage to your hearing. If you’re a hardcore concert-goer, you’re putting yourself at risk of damaging your hearing or developing tinnitus, which is a permanent ringing or buzzing in the ears.
In fact, according to Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers (H.E.A.R.), 60% of all inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have some sort of hearing loss.
But you don’t have to take our word for it—just read about what some of the world’s top musicians, including Sting and Coldplay’s Chris Martin, have to say about their own hearing loss and how they protect their hearing during concerts.
Plan B, also known as Ben Drew, is a British artist who has his hand in a few creative pots. He’s a chart-topping hip hop artist, as well as an actor, writer, director, and new dad. His creative career is especially impressive because he’s still a young man in his early 30s.
But in spite of all his success, his hearing suffered—Plan B has tinnitus that he describes as loud and high-pitched.
“When I first developed it, I thought it was trains rushing by my house as I live near a railway line,” he has said. “I had to see an ear specialist as I couldn’t get rid of this ringing noise, I didn’t know what it was, and I was told it was tinnitus.”
Now, he wears special earplugs to bed to stop the sound, but he notes that the condition was caused by his years performing. “There’s no doubt it’s been caused by years of being on stage and subjected to very loud decibels of music. So if you’re listening to music a lot, producing music or performing live, then always wear earplugs. You’re not Superman and your hearing matters!”
As the only three-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and one of the greatest guitarist of all time, according to Rolling Stone, Eric Clapton is one of the most critically acclaimed musicians alive.
Unfortunately, Eric Clapton, like many other musicians, has a tinnitus. While he has acknowledged that any number of factors may have contributed to his tinnitus, he was exposed to the loud sounds of live concerts as well as loud music in-studio. Clapton was apparently known for cranking up the volume as high as possible in studio and ignoring any complaints from band members about the noise levels.
As he said to Connect Hearing “It was my own doing — being irresponsible and thinking I was invincible … Yes, though it has been better lately. Take care and wear earplugs.”
Seven-time Grammy winning band Coldplay is a household name, thanks to their beautiful lyrics and the group’s catchy tunes. Chris Martin, the British band’s lead singer, has risen to fame from the release of the band’s first album in 2000, and with this fame much of his life has become public fodder. But, what you might not know about this lead singer is that he has had tinnitus for a decade.
As told to the Daily Mail “Looking after your ears is unfortunately something you don’t think about until there’s a problem. I’ve had tinnitus for about ten years, and since I started protecting my ears it hasn’t got any worse – touch wood. But I wish I’d thought about it earlier. Now [the band] always use moulded filter plugs, or in-ear monitors, to protect our ears.”
Not only is this rock star protecting his own ears, he’s taken it one step further by ensuring that his two young children are always wearing ear protection when exposed to loud music.
As a 16 time Grammy award winner, Sting has had a very accomplished musical career on his own and with The Police. But this best-selling musical artist has more than a few gold trophies as reminders of his career—he also has a noise-induced hearing loss.
To spread awareness and try to prevent hearing loss for others, Sting has participated as an ambassador with the Hear the World Foundation. He has also has paired up with the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary to spread awareness, even lending a voice to its public safety announcement “I hope that with The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary as a partner, I’m able to remind people of the critical need to protect their hearing,” says Sting.
Paul Stanley is one of the founding members of the American hard rock band KISS, but his hearing loss started at birth—he was born with microtia, a condition that results in the underdevelopment of the outer ear. But, he grew up in a household full of music and grew to love the rock classics, so becoming a musician was a natural choice for him.
Because of his condition, he only has hearing on his left side and has been a long-time user of ear plugs in order to protect the hearing that he has left. In 2011 he told the NY Daily News, “If I want to listen to music loud, I slip in earplugs under my earphones. I can still turn my brain into a milkshake without melting my ears.”
Stanley partnered with House Research Group in order to help warn teens about protecting their hearing while they’re still young. “I think what young people don’t realize is that when you lose your hearing you don’t get it back and there are easy ways of preventing that from happening,” he told the Daily News.