Pete Townshend, The Who, Exploding Drum Kits and Living with Hearing Loss

Pete Townshend, longtime guitarist for The Who was born May 19, 1945, has lived with hearing loss for nearly 50 years.

On September 17, 1967, The Who exploded onto the U.S. music scene—literally. Keith Moon, the celebrated and eccentric drummer for The Who loaded a few extra explosives (a few more than usual) into his drum kit before they played on The Smothers Brothers show. It’s possible a stage hand also added extra explosives. The Who, known for theatrically destroying their instruments at the end of each show, set about their task after the song, and that’s when Keith exploded his drum kit—surprising the audience, the network and the entire country (back then, people all watched same show).

Townshend credits that moment for his loss of hearing, though the band was known for very loud concerts. The Guinness Book of Records lists their May 31, 1976 concert at London’s Charlton Athletic Football Club as the loudest concert ever (126 decibels at 32 meters/100 feet from the stage). For comparison, 60 dB is generally a conversation level, 90 dB will cause damage in 8 hours of exposure. 126 dB is between a thunderclap or chainsaw, but a bit less then the sound of a military jet take-off from an aircraft carrier with afterburner at 50ft.

Fortunately, while hearing loss cannot be repaired, Resound technology solutions help many people with hearing loss rediscover hearing.

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