After fifty plus years of playing the drums for Big Brother and the Holding Co, Country Joe and the Fish, It’s A Beautiful Day and dozens of other bands and artists I have lost about 90% of my hearing in my left ear and about 30% of the hearing in my right ear. I am still playing drums and have continued to play with Big Brother and a few small jazz combos, but loud music- being in clubs and venues with lots of noise- has become a serious problem for me. Simple things like talking to people at social gatherings, sitting with friends in a restaurant or going to a movie are no longer things I can do naturally. I have to consider wearing a hearing aid and I have to have a hearing aid that works in the various music situations in which I spend and have spent much of my life.
About 25 or 30 years ago I was told that I was starting to lose some of the range of my hearing. You could say that I was warned that playing extremely loud music could cause damage, but for the most I just kept touring and playing with guys that cranked their amps up to ‘11’; I didn’t stop or try to take greater precaution and I told myself that my hearing was fine. About two and a half years ago in a moment that I will always remember, I noticed a sudden and very drastic drop-off of sound in my left ear. It seemed like someone had suddenly turned down the volume from 7 to .05. It was a life altering moment and you realize after a few weeks of denial and hoping that it’s just temporary that things will never be the same.
I have started this ‘Go-Fund-Me’ campaign to help raise the money to buy the hearing aid that I need (a Widex ‘440 Fusion’, cost: about $6000) and also to raise awareness in the world of drumming and Rock music that this is something musicians need to think about early on in their careers rather than thinking ‘this won’t happen to me’ or that ‘it’s too far in the future to worry about’. I came up in a time when we didn’t even have monitors; In the early days of Big Brother and Janis I played so hard that I broke drumheads and drumsticks all the time trying to be heard. Today there is a lot of good sound technology to protect the ears and what’s inside them; no reason not to use it if you’re going to play loud.
I was the drummer and one of the original members of one of great bands of the 1960s: Big Brother and the Holding Co with Janis Joplin. I was part of the creation of all the music that we produced and I’m proud that that music is still listened to today. I think the majority of people that listen to our music these days get that music for free (Facebook, Youtube, etc) I understand that because I do it myself. If you are someone who has enjoyed the music of Big Brother and has appreciated my drumming, my beat then I am happy that I have given you something. I hope that you will think about giving a donation to my Go-Fund-Me campaign.
Of course for every level of donation I will send you something personal that I have created; the details will be on my Go-Fund-Me page.