Johnny A. on Flying Blind

“When I was a kid, I had to overcome something that seemed like a terrible obstacle at the time, but that actually would end up helping me later on,” says Johnny A.
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“I had scoliosis—which is a curvature of the spine—and the treatment required spending 14 months of my early high school experience in a full-body cast, and then wearing a back brace for an additional two years. The cast was like a turtleneck sweater with the arms cut off, and it extended past the pelvic bone. Obviously, I couldn’t go outside and play sports with the other kids, so all I did before and after school was practice my guitar. I couldn’t turn my head, however, so I could only see the neck of the guitar using peripheral vision. I even played gigs with my first band wearing that cast. Nowadays, a lot of people come up to me after gigs and ask, ‘How is it that you rarely look at the neck when you play?’ The answer is that being in a body cast during my developmental years forced me to learn how to play without watching my fingers.”