Stories of Famous People with Tinnitus to Share with Your Child

Tinnitis can vary in severity among children, but as with any health condition, it can be hard to cope with it, especially when you’re a child. When I visited a school for the deaf on my East Coast book tour for my children’s book, Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy, I connected with the kids on a very special level and began to conduct research in the areas of deafness and hearing problems such as tinnitus. One of the most interesting discoveries I made had to do with how common tinnitus actually is, and how many great artists and celebrities must cope with this disorder as well. Share with your child some inspiring stories about artists who have learned to cope with and bring awareness to this complex condition.

In fact, with an estimated 50 million Americans suffering with some degree of tinnitus, according to the American Tinnitus Association, it’s not an uncommon condition, as it affects more than 15% of the population. The severity of the condition varies, ranging from hardly noticeable or mildly annoying to debilitating. Your child’s tinnitus could have been set off by an ear or sinus infection, earwax buildup, medication, or an ear injury, among many possible causes. There are several recommended treatments and therapies, and according to experts, it’s likely that children with tinnitus will eventually outgrow the condition. One of the recommendations by the American Academy of Otolaryngology is to reassure that your child isn’t alone. What better way to do this than to share with your child the fact many artists and musicians have had or currently have tinnitus?

Despite their tinnitus, some famous figures from history were able to accomplish many great things in their fields. Such figures include the most famous reformer in history, Martin Luther, philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Vincent Van Gogh, and Jean-Jean-Francois Champollion, who deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphs on the Rosetta Stone. American presidents with the condition include Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.

Many musicians have suffered from tinnitus as well, including Ludwig Van Beethoven, Eric Clapton, Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, Ozzy Ozborne, Huey Lewis, and Bono. Songs about tinnitus include “Call Letter Blues” by Bob Dylan, “Turn the Page” by Bob Seger, “Something I Can Never Have” and “The Becoming” by Nine Inch Nails, and “Staring at the Sun” by U2.

Several celebrities have tinnitus caused by damage done to their ears during their careers. According to, actor and comedian Steve Martin developed tinnitus from a gun shootout during the filming of Three Amigos! Pete Townsend of The Who sustained severing damage to his ears from playing music as well as an incident on stage when drummer Keith Moon blew up his drum set, which caused permanent deafness in one of Townsend’s ears. William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy both experienced damage to their ears from their work on the set of Star Trek during mid 1960’s. Other celebrities with tinnitus include Sylvester Stallone, Leslie Nielson, and David Letterman, who has had tinnitus in one ear for a long time, according to

Your child is not only not alone with tinnitus, but he or she has the company of many great individuals who have learned to cope with their condition and sometimes channel their feelings into their work, creating musical pieces and contributing to their respective fields. Share some of these stories with your child and listen to some songs about tinnitus, and I bet your child will not only feel not alone but even a little special.

Tina Turbin


American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery: Fact Sheet: When Your Child Has Tinnitus

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