Famous People Who Have Tinnitus

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately 32 percent of the U.S. population has had tinnitus. Other experts say 20%. With that many people experiencing tinnitus, you will not be surprised to know that thousands of famous people have been affected.  From artists to politicians, many historical figures are known to have been sufferers, and dozens of today's celebrities have spoken out about their tinnitus.  Does misery love company?  I'm not sure about that but knowing that people in the public eye deal with tinnitus should encourage fellow sufferers to carry on. Average patients like knowing that famous people with tinnitus have discovered what helps their symptoms and continued to live their lives.


Tinnitus often stems from hearing damage, so many musicians, especially rock musicians, have been affected. Many have spoken out about their tinnitus.

Eric Clapton

Three-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Eric Clapton had a solo career and performed with two well-known groups, Cream, and The Yardbirds. He played electric guitar on stage for years without ear protection, so he lost hearing, and developed severe tinnitus. Clapton says he used to turn up the volume of his guitar amps and blast music loud enough for his fellow musicians to complain. He continues to perform and live his life, but he now wears hearing aids and takes steps to protect his hearing on stage and in the studio. 

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne, the heavy metal musician from the group Black Sabbath, once screamed at 105 decibels for 68 seconds.  He claims all the headbanging during live concerts caused him to develop tinnitus. Whatever the cause, Ozzy reports hearing a constant whooshing in his ears and wishes he had used some earplugs. He continues to perform at the age of 72.

Phil Collins

Solo artist and drummer and singer in the rock band Genesis, Phil Collins was standing in his kitchen one day when he heard a whooshing sound and then – nothing. The hearing loss and tinnitus in his left ear was due to inadequate blood flow to his ear due to stress. He had to retire from touring and performing for a while, but after finding ways to slow down and reduce stress, he resumed touring on a more limited basis.

Neil Young

Neil Young of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby Stills Nash & Young fame suffers from tinnitus. During mixing production on Weld, a live album and concert video by Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Young suffered hearing loss and became extremely sensitive to loud sounds.  His hearing is better but Young still has some painful tinnitus, which frustrates him. 


Barbara Streisand

Tinnitus has affected singers in genres other than Rock and Roll as well. The most famous might be Barbara Streisand, who has lived with it since she was nine. Afraid to find out what the problem was, she spent many years without a diagnosis or help. She thinks the distraction of tinnitus may have led to her irritability and short temper.



Actors and other performers suffer hearing losses that lead to ringing or noise in their ears due to job-related sound. Actor and comedian Steve Martin developed tinnitus in 1986 after a gunshot on the set of the movie Three Amigos. He still lives with tinnitus and says people should make daily life adjustments that help them keep from going crazy. Actor William Shatner, famous for his role as Captain Kirk on Star Trek, started suffering from tinnitus immediately after being too close to a loud explosion on the set.  Shatner says he hears harsh screeching and that lifestyle changes like reducing alcohol and exercising has helped.  He also listens to calming sounds and wears sound maskers. Another Star Trek actor, Leonard Nimoy, also developed tinnitus after an explosion on the set. Robert Redford lost hearing and developed tinnitus while filming All is Lost. In his previous profession as an actor, President Ronald Reagan developed tinnitus on a movie set after someone shot a gun near his ear. 

 While Liza Minnelli didn't develop tinnitus on a film set, she did develop it in 1973 when her father got so excited about her Oscar win for Cabaret that he shouted into her ear. She continues to live with hearing damage and tinnitus in her left ear. Halle Berry lost hearing and started suffering from tinnitus after being beaten by her boyfriend.


Vincent Van Gough cut his ear off, and some historians think he did it after a bout of tinnitus.  Spanish painter, Francisco de Goya, had tinnitus as did Charles Darwin.  American civil rights activist Martin Luther King and composer Ludwig van Beethoven suffered from tinnitus. Astronaut Alan Shephard had an ear operation for tinnitus so that he could pilot Apollo 14 to the moon.

There are famous people from stage, screen and politics who have had tinnitus. Whether caused by occupational hazards like loud music or other causes, they learn to cope with the phantom noise and continue to live their lives.