Laurence Amery - Guitarist - Serious Hearing Impairment
I'm one of the old guys. I was there in the 70s, playing in bands around London, doing different things. I had a few lucky breaks too, but I was never able, or willing, to push myself forward in the way you need to.
I'm pretty sure my hearing was already fading before I really got going with the bands at around the age of 16 - I'd had some problems with my ears when I was a kid. My brother, who is not a musician, also has some deafness so something else is going on there. But music was the only thing I wanted to do so I just ignored it.
You'd be amazed how long you can go on like that.
By the time I was 27 I was missing a lot of conversations and starting to avoid some situations. I couldn't make out much of the dialogue in the cinema or on TV. Didn't matter though, because night after night I was out with a band, gigging, with the drums ringing in my ears all the way home.
Then at last I went to my GP, who referred me to an audiologist. She said : “You’ve got the hearing of a 70 year old man and whatever it is you're doing, you'd better stop.”
So I did. They gave me two hearing aids in a tin box. In a quiet room the aids were great and I was able to hear a lot better, but music sounded terrible and I still couldn't hear much in the pubs, clubs and bars where so much of my time had been spent. And whenever there were more than two people in a conversation I couldn't follow it. So I got a 'proper' job, sold my gear and turned the page on more than 10 years of real life.
Now you may think that this is a sad story but I liked my 'proper' job, at least for the first few years. I got money for it - money and musicians don't usually spend much time together.
Ten years later: By early 2006 I was songwriting again and since then I haven't looked back. I had the good fortune to meet a couple of new friends and musicians and with their help and encouragement I'm back, pretty much where I left off in 1981. I could write a book about this, but this is obviously not the place - although I will add more if anyone's interested. And I've got a page on Deafness for more specific discussion of the technical, medical and emotional aspects. That's intended to be for those of you who have a direct interest in hearing loss and all the associated issues.
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