Gordie Johnson feared he’d come to the end of the road. Permanently. The guitar hero of Big Sugar underwent surgery earlier this year. “I actually lost the use of my left hand in January,” says Johnson. “It was a carpal tunnel thing and a circulatory thing. It was pretty bad. My hand was numb most of the time. I couldn’t feel it; I had to be looking at what I was doing. By the time I got done with the last Big Sugar tour and got home, I couldn’t hold a fork. I started thinking, ‘It was a good thing I went on that nice long tour to play for everybody one last time.’ ”
He knows his condition was caused by decades spent playing guitar. Doctors gave him two prognoses: “They said, ‘Well, you could definitely not ever play again — or just maybe not ever play again.’ I said, ‘I’ll take the maybe option. What’s that one?
In February, doctors sliced the transverse ligament in his wrist “and give everything room to breathe again.” He knew he was in good hands when he found his surgeon listening to banjo music before the operation.
The difference was immediate, he says. “I could feel it the minute they did it — it was like, ‘Wow, that’s what it’s supposed to feel like. Now, the feeling has all come back. I’ve got a big old scar from the surgery – it’s a pretty rock ’n’ roll scar. And I don’t play quite the same yet. It doesn’t feel the same. I think it’s probably going to take the rest of the year until I’m all the way back.”
Johnson’s latest combo — his fourth after Big Sugar, Grady and Wide Mouth Mason, in which he plays bass
Big Sugar play the London Music Hall, Queens Avenue between Clarence and Richmond November 22nd.