Musicians Who Have Hearing Loss

It is not unusual for musicians to spend hours practicing their craft and being exposed to high levels of noise—often resulting in hearing loss or tinnitus (or both). With no hearing protection (or inadequate hearing protection), hearing loss is a natural result of damage to the ear. Let's take a look at some popular musicians who have spoken out about their hearing losses.

Chris Martin singing on stage
Clemens Bilan / Getty Images

Eric Clapton Has Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

The guitarist Eric Clapton, also known by the nickname "Slowhand", suffers from both hearing loss and tinnitus. Since his roles in the bands Cream, The Yardbirds, and Derek and the Dominos, Clapton has been a three-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has won eighteen Grammy awards. He had a reputation for turning his amp "up to 11," which means always playing at the maximum possible volume. This constant exposure to loud noise, especially in smaller studio spaces, lead to a permanent hearing loss. 

Ozzy Osbourne Has Tinnitus

John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne is best known for his membership in the heavy metal group Black Sabbath. Like Clapton, he also suffers from tinnitus. Osbourne opened up to the Sunday Times of London about his condition: "I suffer from permanent tinnitus . . . which means I've got this constant ringing in my ears, which has also made me somewhat deaf (or 'conveniently deaf,' as Sharon [Osbourne, his wife] calls it). It's like this Whee! noise in my head all the time. Should have worn earplugs, I guess."

As well as performing with Black Sabbath, Osbourne also recorded music on his own starting in 1978. He was also a reality television star on the show The Osbournes, featuring a large part of the musician's family, from 2002 until 2005.

Chris Martin Has Tinnitus

The frontman of the British alternative rock band Coldplay is yet another musician who suffers from tinnitus. Like Ozzy Osbourne, he has spoken out about his own condition: "I've had tinnitus for about 10 years, and since I started protecting my ears it hasn't got any worse—touch wood. Looking after your ears is, unfortunately, something you don't think about until there's a problem. I wish I'd thought about it earlier."

Coldplay released the album A Head Full of Dreams in December of 2015, and Martin plans to contribute a track to an album called "I am the One in Ten". The album aims to spread awareness about the number of people in the United Kingdom estimated to have tinnitus and benefit the British Tinnitus Association.

Evelyn Glennie Is Deaf

Evelyn Glennie is perhaps the best known deaf musician internationally. Glennie, an award-winning percussionist, has performed almost everywhere and has her own website. She has even released albums. On the official Evelyn Glennie website, she offers samples of her music and video clips, her concert schedules, an online newsletter, a photo gallery, and even a scholarship for hearing impaired students studying music. A well-known cochlear implant recipient, Caitlin Parton, was one of the Glennie scholarship winners.

There has been enough amazement on the part of reporters that a musician could be deaf, that Glennie was compelled to add an essay on her hearing loss by her husband to her website. There is no mention of her hearing loss in the press pack, the press cuttings, or her biography on the site. The remainder of the site offers information on various products associated with Glennie.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Artists Talk About Tinnitus (2015). Healthy Hearing Foundation.

  • editors. Ozzy Osbourne Biography.

  • Eric Clapton Biography (2016). Eric Clapton.

By Jamie Berke
 Jamie Berke is a deafness and hard of hearing expert.