30 March 2012

Rock music and no protection leads to damaged hearing

A high volume is part of the game when you are a rock musician. It is part of the concert experience to feel the bass in the floor and in your body. But these volumes can also be hard on your hearing and have been a part of the music as long as rock has existed.

For some rock bands, high-level volume is a part of their brand, maybe even what they are most known for. A high volume as always gone hand in hand with rock music since bands like Deep Purple, The Who, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath laid the foundations for the future of rock.

Sadly, rock concerts have not only given the public and the musicians joy. Reduced hearing and tinnitus are dangerously close when the volume reaches the 130 decibel (dB) mark. Even sounds over 85db can be hazardous for our hearing.


Heavy metal band Manowar is in the Guinness World Records as the loudest band in the world. They won this title for the first time in 1984 and then again 10 years later, when they reached a volume of 129,5dB. Guinness World Records do not, however, include this category anymore for fear that musicians will damage their hearing as they attempt to break the record. Rumour has it that Manowar have since reached a volume of 139dB at the Magic Circle Festival in Bad Arolsen in Germany.

The Who

Eight years before Manowar's first record, British band The Who were noted for reaching a volume of 126dB at a concert in the sports stadium The Valley in London. This happened while the band was on tour with their The Who By Numbers album.

Led Zeppelin

At a concert by the British band Led Zeppelin in 1969, The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association apparently recorded a volume of 130dB during the song “Heartbreaker”. A year later, Rolling Stone Magazine wrote that Led Zeppelin number “Whole Lotta Love” was the loudest on stage in 1970.

Deep Purple

Even though it sounds like a tall tale, Deep Purple were noted as the world's loudest band by Guinness World Records in 1972. At a concert in London's Rainbow Theatre, which has a capacity of 3000, a volume of 117dB was recorded during the concert. The sound pressure from this volume, combined with the closed room, meant that three people fainted.


When you release an album entitled “Everything Louder Than Everything Else”, you have to play loud otherwise you are not giving the audience what they had been promised. And there is no doubt that Mötorhead keep their word.

Crosby, Stills and Nash

One musician who has suffered from hearing loss because of his music is Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash. For many years, he did not use ear plugs of any kind when he was performing or recording in the studio. Today, on the advice of his colleague Neil Young, he uses hearing aids.

Read more:

Music and noise can cause hearing loss: www.hear-it.org/Noise-and-hearing-loss

Protect your hearing with ear plugs: www.hear-it.org/Earplugs-make-a-difference

Ringing in your ears? It might just be tinnitus: www.hear-it.org/tinnitus--an-individual-condition

Sources: www.meyersound.com, www.gibson.com

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