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Eric Clapton has Lived Hard, Rocked Hard, and is now Hard of Hearing

Arguably the most influential guitarist in the world, Eric Clapton was renowned for turning his amp up "to eleven" — an expression that refers to anything exploited to its maximum capacity, such as volume control. 

Clapton would ramp up the volume even in the studio and would declare “That’s the way I play” when anyone complained.

This characteristic, along with moving the mike across the room from the amp (which resulted in feedback and sustain, a way of holding a note), and pure skill quickly gained Clapton an impressive reputation.

It’s also the reason, according to Clapton, why he suffers from tinnitus today. "I probably had two 100-watt stacks at the height of things and I would turn one on for guitar solos. It was just mad!” the 67-year-old has said.

Of course, Clapton’s history of drug and alcohol abuse also possibly contributed to the condition, as old age, disease, infection, some drugs, personal trauma and exposure to loud noise are all factors in hearing loss.  After his recovery, Clapton founded the Crossroads Centre in 1998, a rehabilitation facility for drug and alcohol abuse on the Caribbean island of Antigua.

Fortunately for Clapton, who is the only triple inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and the winner of 18 Grammy Awards (solo and as a member of Cream, the Yardbirds and other bands), his condition does not seem to be worsening. “I started using Fender Deluxe Reverb amps and 50-watt Marshalls around '97, after I started having some problems with tinnitus. It was my own doing — being irresponsible and thinking I was invincible ... Yes, though it has been better lately. Take care and wear plugs.”

Canadians can follow Clapton's advice easily enough, with ear plugs readily available at any Connect Hearing clinic or pharmacy around the country. But to push hearing health "to eleven," Connect Hearing recommends getting a complimentary hearing test at one of its more than 120 Connect Hearing clinics in Canada. From there, one of our hearing professionals can suggest what precautions or remedies are necessary to ensure quality hearing for life.

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