AC/DC made history this week when they replaced front-man Brian Johnson with Axl Rose of Guns ‘n’ Roses notoriety, ahead of their world tour.
The reason? Johnson was reportedly advised by doctors to “stop touring immediately or risk total hearing loss”. (Click here to read his official statement.)
These wisely-followed words, and others advocating hearing protection, are too often ignored by musicians and people who love their music turned all the way up; usually to the chagrin of friends and family.
Take the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl for example. After decades of drumming, strumming and fronting for some of the world’s loudest rock bands, it’s no surprise he struggles to hear his wife.
Grohl once told an interviewer “Any woman who’s going to date a rock musician has to be prepared to repeat herself every 10 seconds. My wife asks me where we should go for dinner and it sounds like the schoolteacher from Charlie Brown.”
Can you relate?
Grohl has candidly discussed his deafness (his left ear is “almost completely gone” and he experiences bouts of tinnitus), and he’s vocally refused to wear hearing protection, because “that’s not rock-n-roll”.
If that’s how he feels about ear plugs I can’t imagine what he thinks of hearing aids…
But when it comes to L-O-U-D music (or prolonged exposure to unsafe levels of any kind of sound, for that matter), it’s either one or the other.
Interviewer Howard Stern once asked Dave Grohl if the prospect of going entirely deaf scares him. Grohl responded “Sometimes”, but it seems he has accepted hearing loss as an inevitable part of being a rock star.
I wonder how long it will be until his doctor advises him to give up touring.
That said, it’s encouraging to see Dave Grohl insists his daughters wear hearing protection at gigs:
The fact remains, if you want to continue to enjoy making and listening to the music that you love, you need to protect your hearing! It’s that simple.
I’m confident that many famous musicians – Lars Ulrick, Jeff Beck, Robert Plant, Pete Towshend, Sting and Bono (and now Brian Johnson), to name but a few – wish they’d done just that. And, although he won’t admit to it, Dave Grohl probably does, too.
The good news is, it’s never too late to take preventative measures to protect the hearing you still have. And there are many solutions available these days to help keep you active and social.
Hearing loss needn’t be a career-ending reality of rock n’ roll.
If, for whatever reason, you find yourself unable to hear and enjoy the music you once loved, I urge you to do something about it. Sooner, rather than later.