Music creates emotion. Songs like “If Today Was Your Last Day” by Nickelback and “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus are examples of songs that can motivate and inspire. However, sometimes the motivation and inspiration created by music transcends songs, to the musicians themselves. Several musicians have battled unique circumstances, like deafness and lost limbs, to achieve success. These musicians include Ludwig von Beethoven, Bill Clements, Big Toe’s Mark Goffeney, and Def Leppard’s Rick Allen.
Ludwig von Beethoven
Ludwig von Beethoven’s musical talent engraved the Beethoven name into the music history books. Many can justifiably argue that Beethoven is the greatest composer to have ever lived. Ironically, much of Beethoven’s success occurred as the man battled deafness. Beethoven started losing his hearing in his late 20s. As his deafness progressed Beethoven switched from performing music to composing. By his 40s Beethoven encountered full-on deafness.
Bill Clements, inspired by bassists Geddy Lee and Chris Squire, started playing bass guitar at the age of 13. An accident in December 1989 caused Clements to lose his right hand and forearm. An injury which could have ended Clements’ music career barely fazed the bassist. Equipped with a prosthetic, he was back playing bass within three months. In 2005 Clements released a compilation entitled “Undergroundalienbass.” “Undergroundalienbass” includes both live and studio recordings. Clements currently plays with the group Branden Mann & the Reprimand.
A guitarist without arms may seem impossible but Mark Goffeney has proved otherwise. Goffeney, who was born without arms, developed an interest in music at a young age. When his dad brought home a guitar one day, Goffeney decided to learn how to play the instrument with his feet. Throughout high school Goffeney was a part of the band Wicked Misfits, who emulated the style and sound of hair metal bands, like Ratt and Poison. After high school, Goffeney formed a band called Big Toe. In their early days, Big Toe played at Balboa Park in San Diego, California, a popular destination for street musicians. Big Toe and Goffeney have gone on to receive praise from many in the music industry, including Grammy winning producer David Foster and Goo Goo Dolls’ lead singer Johnny Resnik.
Rick Allen, the drummer for Def Leppard, may be one of the better known musicians with a disability. Rick Allen enjoyed life as an able-bodied individual until New Years Eve in 1984. On that day a car accident cost Allen one of his arms. At the time Def Leppard was on top of the rock world. The group was the most requested band on MTV and their album “Pyromania” was second on the charts, only trailing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Determined to continue the success he had enjoyed with his Def Leppard bandmates, Allen created a drum set with foot pedals which would allow him to continue drumming.
Ability Magazine- Armed with Talent
Beethoven: The Immortal by William Lane
Big Toe Rocks Website
Bill Clements Bassist
Spinner- Twisted Tales: Def Leppard Drummer is One-Armed and Still Dangerous