R.E.M. & Hearing Loss

Have any members of R.E.M. ever suggested they have hearing loss?

I realize this is an odd question, yet it’s a serious question. Performing with all of those sound systems behind them in all of those live shows over so long probably would have damaged my hearing!

Thanks in advance for any and all replies.

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Not that I’m aware of, but statistically it’s likely there’s some lost at the high end. That just comes with age.

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Thanks Ethan!

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I think it’s become less of an issue for their generation of musicians than it was for the one before them both because amplifier technology has come on in leaps and bounds since, say, Pete Townshend fucked up his ears and because they tend to look after themselves a bit more.

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Makes sense, thanks!

It’s doubtful. They’re not a metal band. Those types of acts I can see how that is a concern. But, not REM.

The loudest shows I’ve ever been to were not metal shows. Have you ever seen Drive By Truckers? Ear plugs are a requirement.


These days the musicians most likely affected by hearing loss are actually classical ones. For violinists and viola players one-sided hearing loss is pretty much an accepted occupational hazard because their sound production takes place right next to one ear and then of course sitting in the middle of an orchestra doesn’t exactly make for a quiet workplace either. Anyone using an amp to make themselves heard are a lot more likely to make it through their career with their hearing unscathed because while you can turn down the volume on a stage monitor, you can’t do the same with a classical ensemble.

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Big DBT fan here. They used to be really loud but have toned it down in recent years. When you can see the sound waves moving off the speakers, it’s time to move on back. The Variety Playhouse was a great venue for them. Loud and Rowdy.

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Loudest show I ever went to was Mission of Burma in Los Angeles. Holy shit.


I loved Huey Lewis, when I was younger. Still do, but not the same. He came to Loufest in St. Louis. Weezer and Snoop were the Headliners on two nights. We got to see Cage the Elephant and Run the Jewels too. Huey performed too. It was just fun. No light show. Just fun. When I heard about his hearing getting so bad, he has to quit performing, I was sad. Even though I got to see him…it just hit hard. He loved to perform and now he can’t.


I’ve wondered if Peter had some high end loss. Maybe he just liked the sound better, but it seemed like his acoustic guitar recordings in the later years were more tinny in sound than the earlier years. For instance, the sound on UBerlin vs. Find the River (I know the latter is actually Mike).

Most certainly, but some of that was they were mixing for how people listened on CIN and Accelerate. For Collapse Into Now mixing in Nashville, playback was often on an iPad on a table, on a set of Apple ear buds, on a phone, on a computer.

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WOW seeing some of these usernames— I remember !

I have been to 2, maybe 3 DBT concerts. They did not strike me as overly loud.

Obviously I’m not the band but I have hearing loss from playing in bands. It’s subtle though. Doesn’t really effect my life much, it’s most pronounced when people are talking to me when they’re not in front of me. I kind of semi lip read without realising and it feels normal until I can’t see their lips move. They most likely have it a bit but not necessarily notice. Think it’s natural most band musicians will have hearing loss to various extents.

Stay away from valve amps in small rehearsal rooms kids :joy: