In 1974, Tom was involved in a traffic accident that caused the permanent spinal injury and started his life as a tetraplegic. This put paid to his guitar playing exploits because Tom has no movement in the fingers of his left hand and a very primitive claw movement in the right, but he recalls playing guitar all the time. ‘In my head of course; not literally, but it was there. I would listen to music as I always had, and start to work out the guitar parts, chord structures or accompaniments in my head. It was just something I did – in silence’.
With the tenacity and creativity of a new explorer, finding ways to work around his limits of hand movement, Tom has discovered how to return to being a musician. He has developed absolutely new and unique techniques for playing slide guitar, with a sensitive touch and full of feeling.
As a tetraplegic, Tom has astounded the music world and achieved world wide recognition as an incredibly talented musician. He is a man who has overcome his disability and continues to inspire both able-bodied and disabled people, showing the incredible truth that, where there is a will, there is a way.
Sometime around 1980, Tom took a previously redundant guitar off the wall hanger and placed it on his lap. He used a tube on his forefinger which he dangled on the strings. Soon, he adapted picks with twists and turns in them to hit the strings at the correct angle, raised the nut, put weight into the tube and embarked upon, which was for him, a totally new approach to guitar playing.
In 2003, Tom released his first album ‘The Bell’ to critical acclaim, 2006 saw his second CD ‘Running Free’ and by late 2008, ‘Have a Taste of This’ was released to major interest at home and abroad. All of Tom’s records have been featured on National and local radio in the U.K. and abroad. His albums are refreshingly different and both his song writing and composing skills are respected and enjoyed by audiences and listeners alike.
‘Defining Tom as a Blues performer is too small to convey the depth and variety of his music. Partly because of his physical challenges, he is taking the acoustic slide guitar to another level and finding fantastic new sounds and techniques that until now he remained silent. Tom is like the Django Reinhardt of Slide Guitar’
Tom Doughty's music can fill you with emotion, but his courage, skill and personality fill us with respect, admiration and inspiration especially to fellow tetraplegics and Regainers.