At least, that's what a 45-year-old Princeton University music professor claims in his lawsuit against the Chicago-based band, after he allegedly sustained permanent hearing damage while taking his 12-year-old son to a January 1997 Pumpkins concert at Connecticut's New Haven Coliseum.
Peter Jeffery, a scholar specializing in Gregorian chant and folk music, says the Smashing Pumpkins performance was the first live rock show he'd ever attended. And despite wearing ear plugs for protection, Jeffery claims he now suffers from chronic tinnitus, the telltale ringing in the ears that denotes permanent loss of hearing--a ringing that also interferes with his sleep, the suit attests.
"It's definitely the worst thing that ever happened to me," says the plaintiff. "I didn't know you could get this for life from one single concert. I hope and pray it doesn't get any worse."
His Connecticut Superior Court suit, which seeks unspecified damages, names band members Billy Corgan, James Iha and D'Arcy Wretzky-Brown (recently reinstated drummer Jimmy Chamberlin wasn't around at the time), as well as Virgin Records, the city of New Haven, the Coliseum and opening acts Fountains of Wayne and the Frogs.
Jeffery, who claims the ear plugs actually caused more harm because they dulled the pain while his ears were getting pummeled by "Cherub Rock" and "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," is also suing the manufacturer of the plugs, North Safety Products, as well as the Oregon catalog retailer who sold them to him.
The lawsuit charges that the bands' amps were definitely pushed to Nigel Tufnel's mythical "11" setting, far exceeding a "safe decibel level."
"There's definitely a breach of duty by either the bands or the coliseum, so I think we've got a good case," plaintiff's lawyer Anthony Wallace tells Reuters.
Precedence for legal success exists, with an Arizona judge gaining a monetary settlement several years ago for tinnitus allegedly sustained...at a Barry Manilow concert!?!
All defendants have so far refused comment.