Dave Grohl surprised everyone by revealing he hasn’t been able to hear well for years

The Foo Fighters frontman says he has been reading lips “for like 20 years” and the pandemic has made things worse

Dave Grohl
(Image credit: Rich Fury / Staff)

Rock star Dave Grohl, the former drummer for Nirvana and current frontman and guitarist for Foo Fighters, just revealed a pretty surprising factoid about himself during a conversation on SiriusXM's The Howard Stern Show. Dave told the host that, although he has not had his ears checked by a doctor, he has some sort of hearing impairment.

Dave, who has also penned one of the best autobiographies to read right now, also shared that he is a pro at reading lips, although that's become harder for him throughout the pandemic, while people have been wearing masks.

The 53-year-old artist went into detail about it all, explaining that he actually doesn't use ear monitors while performing live, because he thinks they won't allow him to properly hear what's going on around him. Working with the same sound technician for over three decades helps the situation, he said.

“My ears are still tuned in to certain frequencies,” Dave explained. “And if I hear something that's slightly out of tune, or a cymbal that's not bright enough or something like that in the mix I can f---ing hear the minutiae of everything that we have done to that song, I really can.”

Dave Grohl

(Image credit: Rich Fury / Staff)

The issue becomes a bigger problem when he's not performing, he says. “If you were sitting next to me right here at dinner, I wouldn't understand a f---ing word you were saying to me, the whole f---ing time. There's no way,“ he admitted. 

“In a crowded restaurant, that's worse. That's the worst thing about this pandemic s--t, it's like, people wearing masks. I've been reading lips for like 20 years. So when someone comes up to me and they're like [garbled noise], I'm like, 'I'm a rock musician. I'm f---ing deaf. I can't hear what you're saying.‘”

When asked why he doesn’t go to the doctor to get it checked out, Dave responded, “I know what [the doctor] is going to say, ‘You have hearing damage (Tinnitus) in your left ear, more so than your right ear.’ My left ear is kind of worse than my right because of my snare drum and my stage monitor [being on that side] when I play the drums.”

Of course, hearing loss is a pretty common issue among musicians—especially those that fall within the rock genre. Eric Clapton, for example, has also been candid about his impairment over the years. 

Anna Rahmanan

Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.