Thursday, January 15, 2015

Amputee time: First amongst others

Once again, a piece on Viktoria Modesta describes her as

Viktoria Modesta: the world’s first amputee pop star
It's still not right, though.

And not just because it might be a little early to describe Modesta as a popstar.

A letter in the current Private Eye reminds us of Victor Moulton, drummer with the Barbarians, who had lost a hand to an accident with explosives.

Ella Fitzgerald had her knees amputated below the knee in 1993, although this was pretty much after she had stopped performing in public. Sarah Bernhardt, arguably the prototype popstar, had a leg amputated after an onstage accident and carried on performing.

Over in New York, Isle is building a career which is just as solid as Viktoria's.

Tony Iommi carried on in Black Sabbath despite having lost part of his finger.

Now, you could argue all these cases are edge, or obscure, or not-quite-pop-star enough, or maybe even not amputee enough.

But... what about Rick Allen? Continued drumming for Def Leppard after losing an arm in a car crash, drumming his way onto Hysteria and selling over 20 million records.

It's great that Viktoria is doing well, and the support for her is to be welcomed. And, yes, although she might not be the first, pulling together a list of amputee pop stars shows that she's still amongst the first, nearly 100 years after Sarah Bernhardt. But if one of her main messages is about visibility, probably doesn't help to write the other pioneers out of history.

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