Some of the best musicians in the world have had deafness problems. If you think this is impossible, here are a few names you may have heard of.
The first is Ludwig van Beethoven. You know, that German classical composer and pianist. At the age of 26, he began to lose his hearing because he suffered from severe tinnitus, which made it difficult for him to perceive and appreciate music.
Although there were no high-tech gadgets to help him with this problem, he used a special stick that he fixed to the soundboard of his piano that he could bite down on so that the vibrations would be transferred from the piano to his jaw. This was just one of the many hearing aids he used, even though he was almost completely deaf.
But that didn’t stop Beethoven from composing. To this day, musicians and music lovers still appreciate his work as a gifted composer and pianist.
Let’s go back in time about 200 years, and those of you reading this are certainly familiar with the Beatles. Sir George Henry Martin was an English record producer, arranger and composer who also had a hearing problem.
He is often referred to as the Fifth Beatle, as he produced or co-produced all of the Beatles’ original recordings and played piano on some of their songs. Unlike Beethoven, he retired from music because of his hearing loss.
Another musician from England is singer Peter Townshend. If you watch CSI, the show’s soundtrack is from this rock band. Just like Beethoven, Townshend suffers from tinnitus, which is a direct result of overexposure to loud music through headphones and at concerts.
On the American side, you have Brian Wilson, who happens to be the Beach Boys’ composer, bassist and singer. What makes this man different is that his loss of hearing in one ear was not due to any disease. It happened when he was a young boy and his father hit him on the head with a piece of wood. Like other musicians, this did not stop him from being part of the best recording band in the history of music.
One singing diva, movie star and political activist who also had a problem with deafness was Barbra Streisand. When she was 7 years old, her doctor diagnosed her with tinnitus. But as we all know, she still pursued her singing career and even made a few movies.
Eric Clapton, the famous guitarist and singer also had deafness problems. He, like other musicians, believes it is caused by the loud speakers used during rock concerts. Sadly, whether acute, mild or severe, permanent damage has been done and there is no way to reverse the symptoms.
The good news is that treatments are now available, but with varying degrees of reliability in their success.
The musicians mentioned here were not deaf at birth. They lost that ability later in life, but even with this impairment, it didn’t stop them from writing, producing or playing great music for audiences. If you know someone with a deafness problem, with a little encouragement you can still help them succeed in life.