16 Singers Who Suffer from a Disease

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Last updated on August 2nd, 2023 at 02:31 am

It’s always nice when we find out that we’re not the only ones who have problems with our health, and we can’t help but feel comforted knowing even some of our favorite singers can relate. So many of us put celebrities on pedestals thinking that they don’t have the struggles that life throws at the rest of us, but this list proves otherwise.

Here’s a list of 16 singers who suffer from a disease.

1. Selena Gomez

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Selena Gomez was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease, around 2014. The condition is known to cause the immune system to attack healthy tissue throughout the body. Gomez’s struggle with the disease became so life-threatening that, in 2017, she had to undergo a kidney transplant. Gomez’s friend and The Secret Life of the American Teenager star Francia Raisa donated the kidney to her.

Related: Selena Gomez Facts: Networth, Height, Nationality, Salary and more

2. Patti LaBelle

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Patti LaBelle’s diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes came out of a shocking moment. She was performing in New York City in 1995 when she suddenly passed out on stage. To take charge of the condition, LaBelle said she keeps to a regular exercise routine, even working with a personal trainer and changing her diet. Her cookbooks and line of Patti’s Good Life Sauces are just some of the good things that have come out of her diagnosis.  

Related: Patti LaBelle’s Net Worth: Her Big Life as Godmother of Soul

3. Pete Townshend

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Imagine being a musician and not being able to hear correctly. Such is the fate of Who co-founder, lead guitarist, and vocalist Pete Townshend, who suffers from tinnitus. Townshend’s condition has often been attributed to the thunderous performances that the famous band would always put on. He has made the best of it, though, forming the non-profit hearing advocacy group H.E.A.R. (Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers) in 1989.

Related: Long Live The Who

4. Seal

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Seal is the second entry on our list of singers who suffer from a disease to have been diagnosed with lupus. His journey, however, has been less life-threatening compared to Gomez’s. His form of the condition, discoid lupus erythematosus, causes sores and skin inflammation, as well as leaves large scars. The scarring on his face, which began at age 23, led to his diagnosis of the disease.

Related: Seal’s Net Worth: His Beloved Music, His Ex-Wife, and More

5. Marissa Paternoster

Marissa Paternoster, frontwoman of the indie rock group Screaming Females, started suffering from chronic joint pain after a bout with mononucleosis. To help herself cope with the pain, she has shared a series of cartoon sketches with her fans that depict her troubles.

Related: Screaming Females Bring Raw, Howling Energy to Turf Club

6. Willie Nelson

willie nelson on stage playing guitar while wearing a cowboy hat
Arrington, VA/USA – 9/7/2014 : Willie Nelson performs at LOCKN’ Festival in Arrington, VA. Image from Shutterstock.

This is one of the saddest on our list of singers who suffer from a disease, but with the sweetest ending. As an avid guitarist, we can only imagine how carpal tunnel syndrome has affected living legend Willie Nelson. In 2004 he had to cancel several shows after undergoing surgery on his severely damaged wrists. To the luck of fans, we got many more classic original songs from the “On the Road Again” singer, who spent his recovery writing instead of playing.

Related: Willie Nelson’s Net Worth and Other Essential Facts About the Country Legend

7. on the red carpet in an orange shirt and black jacket
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Famous rapper revealed his battle with tinnitus in December 2010. The Blacked Eyed Peas founder said music helps him to drown out the constant ringing in his ears, a symptom of the disease. Unlike Townshend, it’s believed that Will.’s plight with the disease might have developed from other ailments like ear infections, nasal allergies, or another neurological disorder.

Related: The Black Eyed Peas: Their Stellar Career and More

8. Jeff Tweedy

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Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy’s battle with chronic migraine disorder started when he was just a kid (so to speak), forcing him to miss 40 days during one year of elementary school. “There are a lot of different ways migraines have affected my music, and vice versa. Being a musician has allowed me, for lack of a better phrase, to rise above the pain from time to time,” he wrote in an article in The New York Times, addressing the condition which affects 30 million Americans.

Related: 38 Best Guitar Solos, From Hendrix to Wilco

9. Watsky

He may be in his upper 30s, but San Francisco rapper Watsky hasn’t forgotten what it was like to be diagnosed with juvenile epilepsy as a teen. He hints at his struggle with the seizure-causing disease in his Nov. 1, 2009, single “Seizure Boy” from his 2010 album, Watsky. 

Related: 14 Best Rappers of All Time

10. Nick Jonas

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Nick Jonas, the youngest of the heartthrob Jonas Brothers, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was just 13. Because of that, he’s most focused on the disease in the group’s joint Change for the Children Foundation. On the website, he writes: “I’ve heard stories about kids who were in depression because after they got diagnosed, they were just so upset about what was going on. That just touched my heart, and I wanted to be able to do something about it. I hope that I can be that positive light.”  

Related: Nick Jonas’ Net Worth: His Cars, Home, and Lavish Wedding

11. Clay Walker

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Country superstar Clay Walker was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative nerve disease, in 1996. He hasn’t let it get him down, though. The “Rumor Has It” singer started his own non-profit charity, Band Against MS, in 2003 and received a Humanitarian Award in 2008 for his charitable efforts related to the disease.

Related: The 22 Best Clay Walker Songs: A Classic Country Playlist

12. Mike McCready

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Crohn’s disease is not an easy one to deal with. Still, like so many others on our list of singers who suffer from a disease, Pearl Jam’s lead guitarist Mike McCready has used his diagnosis to bring awareness to the inflammatory bowel condition. Every year he plays a concert to benefit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America’s Northwest chapter.  

Related: 15 Best 90s Songs

13. Lady Gaga

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Lady Gaga, image from Shutterstock.

Lady Gaga opened up to the world about her struggle with fibromyalgia in 2017, the pain from which has been so bad at times that she’s had to cancel numerous shows. “It’s every day waking up not knowing how you’re going to feel,” she said of the disease. It’s not always easy to keep a “Poker Face” when you’re in so much pain, proving that singers who suffer from a disease are human first and foremost.

Related: Lady Gaga Facts: Birthdate, Networth, & Much More

14. Lil Wayne

lil wayne with a microphone and his hair flying in the wind
Chicago, Illinois / United States – Saturday, August 3rd, 2019: Lil Wayne performs at Lollapalooza in Grant Park, Chicago. Image from Shutterstock.

Lil Wayne doesn’t just have rapping in common with Watsky: he also has epilepsy and has had multiple seizures since his diagnosis. His struggle with the disease made headlines in 2013 when he had more than one episode mid-flight in 2012.

Related: Lil Wayne’s Net Worth, Kids, Height, and More

15. Missy Elliott

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Missy Elliott in 2010 prior to her weight loss, image from Shutterstock.

Here’s one you might not have heard of before for our singers who suffer from a disease list. Missy Elliott suffers from a hyperthyroidism disorder called Graves’ disease, citing it as the reason she was absent from the music industry for a time. Her diagnosis came after severe leg spasms while driving nearly caused her to crash a car. Thank goodness with treatment, her condition stabilized, and she was soon back on the stage.

Related: Missy Elliott’s Net Worth: The Queen of Rap’s Massive Career

16. Avril Lavigne

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Canadian singer Avril Lavigne talked about her battle with Lyme disease during a 2018 interview with Billboard magazine, noting she was diagnosed with it in 2014. Her single “Head Above Water” talks about her journey with the disease, which she said left her bedridden on multiple occasions. 

Related: 16 Crazy Avril Lavigne Facts

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Written by Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth in 2015. She has worked in journalism since 2015, beginning as production assistant and eventual head staff writer of the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Currently, she is a multimedia journalist with the Diocese of Nashville's Office of Media and Evangelization where she writes, does photography, and edits for several types of content, including the Tennessee Register, Catholic Awakenings, and She has also worked as a freelance journalist with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas's newspaper, The Leaven, since 2016.
In her spare time, Peterson enjoys reading, spending time with her pup, Sadie Lynn, singing and songwriting.


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