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Musicians with disabilities

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by The Bassmaniac, Sep 3, 2004.

  1. This excerpt from the interview with Bob Gollihur in the current TB newsletter has me wondering how many of us have had to overcome a disability in order to be able to play bass.

    "One big-time downer that interrupted my musical (and other) enjoyment... I went
    hoarse in late 1989, and my docs couldn't figure out why - it turned out to be
    throat cancer. Strange, as I'd never been a smoker, but I lost my voice box to
    cancer in July 1990. As singing was a big part of my performances and musical
    interest, it was quite a blow. Not long after that I suffered from undiagnosed
    fibromyalgia, which affected my ability to play... even to type! I really didn't
    join a band again until around 1997, though I did continue to play a bit. It was
    very painful to play and not also be able to sing, as I had done for so many
    years. A special prosthesis allows me to speak and have somewhat of a normal,
    albeit froggy, voice - so I don't have to use the electrolarnyx (those buzzing
    devices laryngectomees put to their neck to speak). No complaints, I'm lucky to
    be a cancer survivor these last fourteen years. My bass is my musical voice
    these days."

    With me, I was born with profound deafness ( runs in my family ) and have worn hearing aids all my life. Without them I can't hear speech at all.
    I take one out when I play though as they cut out too much bass frequency and I can't properly balance my volume otherwise.
    Something that really amazes me ( and others ) about my ears though, is that I can tell when someone else in the band is playing an instrument that's out of tune - even when no one else can hear it. :eyebrow:

    My other disability is that I have a transplanted tendon in the ring finger of my fretting hand due to an old work injury. I find that I can't use that finger very much except in the upper register where it falls naturally on a fret. None of this can keep me away from a bass though. I read and transcribe notated music and give lessons as well as playing in church.

    Anyway, enough about me. Anyone else with a story to tell?

    Here's a link to the site of a drummer friend of mine who overcame the set-back of Cerebral Palsy to play at the Sydney Opera House.
  2. Dude, that's amazing. :jaw drops:

    No story here, though. I'm in awe of people who overcome things like that. There's a kid at my school who's intelectually disabled but plays guitar - he's not fantastic but he does a good job, he tries hard and loves playing. His teacher was telling me how amazed he was that he wanted to learn - apparently kids that have what he's got (can't remember what it is) aren't patient in nature, so that's pretty impressive.
  3. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    I've been lucky and healthy so far... as far as no big injuries, no cancer, etc.
    I only have asthma and allergy, weaker bones, bad eyes, very unmuscular body, etc, but I'm not complaining because there are people with far worse illnesses or injuries doing what they are doing - luckily I'm all right compared to them
  4. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    I just found out that Victor Bailey is ill and suffers from ms. I asked Tom Barney about this and he confirmed this to be true. I asked him how is he still playing and Tom told me " Victor is a strong determined brother".
  5. leanne


    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    I have a good friend who is blind since birth (keys/lead vox), and another friend who has become mostly blind over time (sax). Two of the baddest musicians in the area, by far. Much respect...
  6. My friend Mike is a little slow mentally, but he's a pretty good bass player and drummer. It's awesome just to be around him and have him be the happiest he is when jamming with people.
  7. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Stevie and Ray easily come to mind. I'm legally blind, but I don't know if it really affects my playing other than having a hard time seeing the position markers on my neck and not being able to read music when playing because I need it to be about two inches from my bifocals to be able to read it.

    It's certainly hindered my being able to join bands, as I'm not allowed to drive because of it.
  8. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    WInter Garden, FL
    Beaver Felton, he was in an accident back in the 80's and is a parapalegic. He lost the use of his legs, but not his arms, hands, heart, and mind.

    One of the best players I've ever heard, don't think for a second that chair slows him down either. The rest of us at BC have a hard time keepin' up with him.
  9. Joey3313


    Nov 28, 2003
    How about Rick Allen? The drummer from Def Leppard. Lost his arm and is still playing...now that's sweet.

    What has 9 arms and sucks?

    Def Leppard
  10. Evelyn Glennie is one of the world's finest percussionists - she is also deaf - check out what she says about her disability.

    - Wil
  11. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Beaver's who came to mind, when I read the subject line.
  12. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Rick Allen. I don't like the band, but man! I can respect him for doing what he loves, despite his disability.

    My only disability is my skinniness. My bass literally weighs 10% of what I do, and just one of my cabs weighs more than me. Load in can be a bit of a bitch.

    Kudos to all you dudes who overcome challenges and continue playing. I'm sure that if I lost an arm or something I'd just quit, sell all my gear, and travel the world.
  13. I do have a nasty back injury. That can suck as far as load in or playing for long periods of time standing.

    Other than that, my major disability is I suck.
  14. BassGod


    Jan 21, 2004
    I really respect those with disabilities, who keep doing the things they like. There was an advertisement on TV for War Amps, and in the ad a kid with a prosthetic (sp?) are was playing violin. It was amazing how good he was, I couldn't beleive it. I have no disabilities of my own though.

    Graeme :bassist:
  15. carpal tunnel syndrome in my wrists and minor arthritis in my fingers inhibits my playing alot, so there are some days where I don't play - I simply don't have the strength.
  16. With me, although my playing's fine, as soon as they learn I can't talk on the phone, I get dropped from consideration regardless. Only makes me more determined though. :bassist:
  17. Joey3313


    Nov 28, 2003
    Wow, I never knew that...although her signature cymbal (made by Sabian) is called a garbage, which is what it sounds like...she's lucky she can't hear it...ewww.

    She's amazing though.
  18. Damn, musicians w/ disabilities are hardcore. My pinkies are really crooked for some reason, so I don't use them, but I guess I'm pretty lucky otherwise.
  19. :rolleyes:


    - Wil
  20. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Hey there Bryan, ltns! I remember you saying a while back that you're legally blind. I'm interested to know, what does this mean, exactly? Obviously you can see well enough to use a computer (well enough to post on TB, anyway) - how much can you actually see? Does it stop you from reading books? Can you see well enough to find your way around places without help, or a white stick? Sorry if my questions seem like a piss take, they're not - I am genuinely interested to know.

    Oh, and in answer to the original question, I was gonna mention Evelyn Glennie but it seems Will got there first. To listen to her, you'd have no idea she was deaf - she talks and plays perfectly.

    Beethoven went deaf, too. How much music he made while he was deaf, I don't know...