As a young man, South African Ian Pierce played the guitar in bands, but his life changed dramatically when he lost his right arm in an accident while working on the railways. Since then, he has tried unsuccessfully to devise a means that would help him to once again play the guitar by automatically strumming the instrument for him. Here's Ian's story in his own words:
"I am a Capetonian, born here, and my musical interest really got a jump-start in 1956 when I was 12 years old and Elvis and Rock 'n Roll came onto the world stage. I saved my money and bought my first guitar. At 15 I was playing lead guitar with a 4 piece band and then I left South Africa for Rhodesia(Zimbabwe) There I started my own band, Eldorados, playing and singing.When I was 18 Eldorados won the Best Rock Band competition, and a recording contract with it, but regretfully, we only cut one LP which I still have. at 22 and a bit years I lost my right arm in a railway shunting accident which put paid to my guitar playing days. But the desire to play again never left me.Nowadays I work part-time as a maintenance man for a large organisation's headquarters."
Ian's partner Glenda, contacted the show after doing some research on one armed guitarists, eventually discovering Ben's Guitar Hero foot pedal build that he made back in 2008. She had the inspired idea that Ben could create some kind of device that would solve Ian's long standing problem and allow him once again to become the rock God she knew he once was! In a two part episode aired in November this year, Ben accepted the challenge and created the Accessibility Guitar for Ian. The element14 team then arranged for it to be sent to him at his home in Cape Town, South Africa.
After receiving the guitar and spending some time practicing, Ian has now kindly uploaded a video to Youtube where he performs "Streets of London" and "Lonesome Town". The results in the video below. Are you ready to rock?
Ian contacting us afterwards said:
"Just to hold the guitar and get to strumming it again is a thrill. I still have a long way to go before I get a more polished action but it's a good journey that I'm enjoying. And there is a tremendous amount of interest and encouragement from family and friends. Thank you one and all over there, especially Ben for giving me this new start on my old love, music."
His partner Glenda also had this to say:
"What this has done for Ian is nothing short of a miracle. He cannot wait to go and practice on his guitar every day. The years have rolled off him and to see the pride and joy of his children is something money can never buy. We might be in the autumn of our lives but we are rocking as if it is summer."
Ian (and Glenda)... WE'RE NOT WORTHY!
Below are both episodes that show how the guitar was made.