Last night we attended an amazing performance called the "Acoustic Archery FTG" featuring Andy McKee and Billy McLaughlin at the Northern Lights Theater. We arrived late for the performance which provided us with an added bonus; the opportunity to meet Billy McLaughlin in person. He was standing in front of the theater's entrance with his ear to the door listening to Dean Magraw . He said, “This is the first time I’ve heard this guy. It seems almost sac religious to enter while he’s playing” My husband looked at him and said, “Your Billy McLaughlin.” It was, and DH began telling him how we had discovered him on public TV about ten years ago when his performance of "Fingerdance" was featured as a filler. We were so enamored with his innovative guitar playing we went out and bought not one but two of his CD's. He talked about his new DVD and an upcoming documentary to be aired on PBS. He was extremely personable and sincerely thanked us for coming.
During his performance he kept referring to how happy he was to be performing his music. Why was he so happy?
In 1997, he had suffered a hand injury resulting from a fall. He began having difficulties playing solo guitar. His performances received poor reviews; he was even accused of playing while under the influence. Finally in 2001, he was diagnosed with focal dystonia (a neuromuscular disorder with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease) which had afflicted his hand. His doctors advised him to look for a different career; his career as a virtuoso guitarist was over. Billy refused to give up. In 2006, he began a comeback. He had relearned to play the guitar one note at a time left-handed. His documentary describes this retraining as learning how to speak every word in reverse - phonetically. His story is phenomenal. Watch it here.
“Many people fail because they quit too soon.”
Quote taped to Billy's dashboard