Noel Gallagher recently revealed he suffers from an annoying whine in his ear. No, not his brother Liam – it’s tinnitus, caused by 20 years of cranking up the volume.
Many music fans will be familiar with that ringing sensation in the head after a rock concert; for most this is a temporary inconvenience. Not, though, for 52-year-old Robert McIndoe from Sydenham, Kent, who stabbed himself to death in November 2011, after a concert at Brixton 18 months earlier left him with such bad tinnitus he was unable to sleep. The tragedy was a personal wake-up call: it shocked me into buying ear plugs, after 20 years of going to gigs as both a music journalist and performer had left me with a constant whistling in my right ear.
Tinnitus is an occupational hazard for musicians. Beethoven complained “my ears whistle and buzz all day and night”, and Coldplay singer Chris Martin, Will.I.Am from the Black Eyed Peas and Embrace’s Danny McNamara rank among many artists who live with it. Now that trio are to feature on an album, I Am the One in Ten, which aims to raise awareness about a condition that afflicts not just rock stars, but 10 per cent of the population.