Think of the single thing you absolutely most love doing. Now imagine being told that an incurable disease will prevent you from doing that thing—ever again.
That’s exactly what happened to Billy McLaughlin.
I met Billy in passing some 20 years ago, when his career was just taking off. He used to play in downtown Minneapolis sometimes and I’d listen as I ate my lunch.
Before long, Narada records signed him. He was in demand as a studio musician. He was playing concerts regularly. And then, the unthinkable happened: He was told that he had focal dystonia, an incurable neurological disease.
As the dystonia progressed Billy lost his recording contract, his livelihood, his home, his family … his music. By 2002, his career was over. For a lot of musicians the story may have ended there.
But not for Billy.
I had the privilege of hearing him play a benefit concert a couple of weeks ago. And I was astounded to discover how he was able to play. In his own words, here’s his description of relearning the guitar left-handed: