Music: Full Volume

Singer Johnnie Ray, 31, stood at the microphone in Philadelphia's Latin Casino, opened his mouth wide, and slid into a number he has sobbed to audiences the world over: The Little White Cloud That Cried. To club patrons, it seemed the same old lachrymose wheeze, but to Johnnie the effect was like "the first atom bomb, exploding in pieces everywhere." Singer Ray had abandoned his familiar hearing aid, for the first time in his career was able to hear his own caterwauling at its painfully natural decibel count.

Once before in his career, Johnnie underwent surgery to clear up the deafness he...

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