50 Years After Woodstock, Harris Poll Survey Reveals Woodstock Generation Is Feeling the Effects of Their Music-Loving Past

Survey commissioned by Oticon finds 47% of older adults who listened to loud or very loud music when they were young now have hearing loss

SOMERSET, N.J.--()--As the 50-year anniversary of Woodstock quickly approaches, a new survey conducted by The Harris Poll and commissioned by Oticon, Inc. has found an unintended consequence of that generation’s love for hard-charging, culture-changing rock and roll.

The online survey, which was conducted in June among more than 1,000 U.S. adults age 65-80, “The Woodstock Generation,” found a whopping 47% who report listening to loud or very loud music in their youth (i.e., in their teens and 20s) now report hearing loss. For a generation defined by their love of music (71% report music was one of the most important things to them when they were young), hearing loss may now be denying many of them the opportunity to continue to enjoy the music of yesterday and today.

The survey reveals:

  • 36% report their hearing loss now negatively impacts their ability to listen to music at least a little
  • 70% of those with hearing loss wish they could still experience music the way they did when they were young
  • 47% of those with hearing loss say they don’t enjoy music as much as they used to

Time to face the music

Howard Groopman was 18 years old when he made the trek from his home in New York City to Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York to witness music history. “The entire experience was an important chapter in my life,” said Groopman. “I went there for the music and got to see the greatest rockers of all time. To be part of a happening and sharing in peace and love with others of my generation gave me great hope and inspiration for the future.”

Groopman admits he has been to a couple hundred concerts and has been a heavy music listener throughout his life. He even purchased dozens of rock albums from Woodstock musicians after the iconic festival.

Groopman now says he has trouble comprehending some speech, and he often relies on closed captioning to ensure he doesn’t miss any dialogue. In fact, at a recent appointment with a hearing care provider, Groopman was diagnosed with mild to moderate hearing loss.

“As part of the exam, I wore a set of temporary hearing aids and listened to a few songs. It was amazing how much better the notes sounded,” Groopman added. [For an archive of photos from actual Woodstock attendees, including Howard Groopman, click here.]

The impact of hearing loss doesn’t end with music enjoyment. The survey revealed other areas where the Woodstock Generation struggles with hearing:

  • 52% have difficulty understanding what is being said in loud environments like busy restaurants at least sometimes
  • 40% have needed statements repeated in conversations at least sometimes
  • 40% have missed words in a conversation at least sometimes
  • 41% say hearing loss negatively impacts their ability to participate in social activities/gatherings at least a little
  • 38% say hearing loss negatively impacts relationships with family or friends at least a little

“The survey results demonstrate the far-reaching consequences of loud music listening on hearing health,” said Gary Rosenblum, President of Oticon, Inc. “That’s an important message for young people today. Fifty years ago, people thought turning up the volume and seeking out concerts with the biggest speakers made the music more enjoyable. Today, we know the long-term effects of noise on hearing health and the importance of protecting hearing to maintain the ability to enjoy music and conversation. This is vital to your overall quality of life.”

Woodstock Generation missing opportunities to recapture that old-time rock and roll

Despite hearing challenges, many members of the Woodstock Generation have not taken steps to address their hearing loss. The majority of these adults (70%) have never seen a hearing care professional specifically about their hearing. Only around one in 10 (12%) have used hearing aids either currently or in the past.

“Many in the Woodstock Generation could enjoy music again and live fuller lives if they address their hearing loss,” said Rosenblum. “The hearing aids of today are sophisticated, high-performance devices that do more than amplify sound. They allow wearers to experience music, sounds, and life in a natural way. For instance, the Oticon Opn S hearing aid provides wearers with access to a full range of sounds, allowing wearers to enjoy a richer, more authentic music experience.”

Remembering Woodstock

It’s hard to believe that August 16-18 is the 50th anniversary of one of the most iconic cultural events in U.S. history. Woodstock was so much more than a concert. Rather, it was a coming of age for baby boomers. It set the tone for music, fashion, culture, and politics for decades to come. For those who attended, Woodstock was life-changing. For those that watched from afar, it provided great hope that a generation could come together in peace and understanding. Oticon pays tribute to this generation in our unending commitment to improving and enhancing their life, health, and hearing.

For more information on the survey, please visit www.oticon.com/woodstock.

Research Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll between June 5 and June 12, 2019 on behalf of Oticon among 1,006 U.S. adults age 65-80 (“Woodstock Generation”) including 437 older adults with hearing loss. Data were statistically weighted where necessary by age, sex, education, race/ethnicity, region, income, household size, marital status, and employment status to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

About Oticon

Oticon is one of the most innovative hearing device manufacturers with more than 110 years of experience putting the needs of people with hearing loss first. Oticon has spearheaded a number of technological breakthroughs, which have made a significant difference for people with hearing loss. Oticon’s “brain first” audiological focus recognizes that speech understanding and comprehension are cognitive processes that happen in the brain. Oticon’s innovative BrainHearing™ technology is helping to provide better hearing with less effort by giving the brain the clearest, purest sound signals to decode. Oticon designs and manufactures hearing solutions for adults and specialized pediatric instruments. People First is Oticon’s strongest and most valued commitment to empower people to communicate freely, interact naturally and participate actively. For more information visit www.oticon.com.


Denise DiMeglio
Gregory FCA