In April, we are celebrating the annual Juno Awards, a recognition of this nation's finest musicians and performing artists. This year, we are also hoping the Juno Awards can serve as a moment to raise awareness about hearing loss, which affects 1 in 10 Canadians and a significant number of musicians. In fact, Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers (HEAR) says "60% of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are hearing impaired."
"Musicians have always battled hearing damage, particularly having to deal with conditions like tinnitus," says MJ DeSousa, Audiologist and our Director of Professional Practice. "In recent years, we have seen many high-profile rock stars become vocal about how they lost their hearing and what we can all do to better protect ourselves from this health risk. Their endorsement is a vital asset to us as we try to inform Canadians, especially young Canadians, about the prevention of hearing loss."
In honour of the Junos — which take place in Regina, Saskatchewan on April 21 — we are listing five Canadian musicians who have hearing loss and who have spoken out about the condition.
1. Neil Young
Young's hearing was damaged in the early 1990s when he record the live album "Weld," a record he says he regrets making because it led to tinnitus, which causes a ringing in the ears. Young has taken precautions when playing, recording and producing his music. These days, he says, "My hearing's not perfect but it's OK.”
A 25-year-old from Vancouver, Grimes has had to cancel tour dates in Canada and Europe because she was coping with hearing loss. She tweeted that she would need to avoid "loud music 4 a bit" as she recovers. Grimes, whose real name is Claire Boucher, offers evidence of how hearing loss can affect anyone, at any age.
3. Paul Langlois:
The guitarist for the Tragically Hip has written a song to appear on an upcoming solo album about tinnitus, which he has suffered with for several years. Langlois sings about "the ringing in my ear" and has also spoken about the need for musicians to be more cautious about protecting their hearing.
4. Greg Keelor:
The Blue Rodeo guitarist and singer has been dealing with hearing loss for years. The band has augmented its stage set up, helping to curtail any further damage he incurs. "My hearing is better than it’s been for a long time. I can’t play electric guitar on stage anymore, but I can stay up there and play acoustic," he told the Montreal Gazette.
5. Neil Peart:
The drummer for Rush has played thousands and thousands of concerts over the band's 45 years. The pounding on the snares and the crashing of the cymbals has led to serious hearing damage.
Check out this drum solo from the Rush 30th Anniversary show in 2010. Notice the earplugs!