May 31, 2024

Keith Moon. Head Case.

Keith Moon, the legendary drummer for The Who, was famed for his excessive behaviour and untamed talent. But there’s one Moon anecdote that particularly raises an audiologist’s eyebrows – the headphones he wore, gaffer taped to his head, during The Who’s iconic performance at Shepperton Studios. WATCH IT HERE.

As you’ll see during “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “Baba O’Riley” Moon did indeed sport a pair of massive headphones (similar to those now worn by Gen Z’s on trains). The reason was, perhaps, fair enough. The tracks featured famous pre-recorded keyboard arpeggios that Moon needed to follow for timing and, bearing in mind his highly vigorous drumming style, he obviously required the sense of security only gaffer tape plastered to his cranium could offer!

Now, The Who were not exactly known for their sonic subtlety. Their one-stage volumes were immense so, one can only imagine the aural assault happening inside Moon’s head as the backline volumes of Townshend and Entwistle fought with his own drums… and the headphones (powered, it’s rumoured, by a Marshall 100-watt amp)!

It’s a marvel Moon could hear himself think, let alone keep time.

In Ear Monitoring and Hearing Conservation rather than Protection

But here’s our conclusion and it’s a serious one. Back then, hearing protection for musicians wasn’t a priority. Loud was good, and tinnitus a badge of honour.

Thankfully, today’s musicians have access to bespoke in-ear monitors that allow them to hear what they need at safe listening levels without turning their brains into mush.

So, to all aspiring rock stars out there: sure it’s OK to crank it up a bit but today you can do that safely with active electronic in ear ear monitors and custom-made passive hearing protection. And unlike Keith, you won’t require industrial-strength adhesive to keep your headphones in place.

Keith Moon died at 32 but, if he had lived, like his bandmates he would certainly now be paying the price for the audio excesses of his youth.  Pete Townshend and  Roger Daltrey are both on record describing how their ears have been scarred by music induced hearing injuries sustained from sixty years of being on the road. More importantly they wear advanced hearing aids and are able to happily engage in daily life and continue to perform live at 79 and 80 years respectively.

If you’re a musician or no longer can appreciate music sounding as it used to sound and you would like to know more about our bespoke hearing solutions or our specific hearing conservation programme designed for musicians, please get in touch by CLICKING HERE.