Django Reinhardt

A google image search for "injured hand" was more than enough to stop my complaining. And it brought up some good stories.

At the age of 18, Django Reinhardt was injured in a fire that ravaged the caravan he shared with Bella, his first wife. She made imitation flowers out of celluloid and paper for her living. Consequently, their home was full of the highly flammable material. Returning from a performance late one night, Django allegedly knocked over a candle on his way to bed. While his family and neighbors were quick to pull him to safety, he received first and second degree burns over half his body. His right leg was paralyzed, and his left, or fretting, hand was badly burnt.

There followed a long period of terrible suffering. For a year and a half Django was bedridden and became increasingly frantic not about the serious condition of his leg but about the hand which refused to heal, threatening to put an untimely end to his musical ambitions. Whenever his mother who never left his bedside, asked him “What are thinking about, Django?“ he would reply, “My hand.” Seeing this, his young brother brought him, some time later, a brand new guitar in an oilcloth case and with this the injured man began an astonishing programme of self-reeducation which left the staff of the St-Louis Hospital gasping. By long, painful and lonely exercise the young guitarist succeeded, against all expectation, in overcoming his terrible handicap and inventing an instrumental technique that was entirely his own.