Pluck of a guitar man

It is the stuff music legends are made of. People battling against physical disability to let the world hear their talent. Now a new Norfolk name is set to join them.

It is the stuff music legends are made of. People battling against physical disability to let the world hear their talent.

Jazz guitar ace Django Reinhart suffered a badly burned left hand in a caravan blaze but went on to find world fame.

Grateful Dead front man Jerry Garcia lost a middle finger as a child during a wood chopping accident on a camping trip but mastered many stringed instruments.

Def Leppard drummer, Rick Allan, had his arm amputated after a New Year's Eve car crash, yet still carried on in the band.

And now one new face is set to join them.

Norfolk student Darby Dorras, 16, was born without a fully formed hand, just a series of small buds instead of fingers - but fell in love with playing the guitar.

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And his father has helped him by devising a special plectrum to fit his disabled arm.

“When I started playing the guitar a couple of years ago I realised I could only strum or pick tunes, when I wanted to be playing hard and getting really involved,” explained the talented teenager.

Darby refused to give up and kept playing, literally practising until his hand bled.

It was then his father realised how determined Darby was, and decided to find a solution.

Teacher Max Dorras, 63, was opening a box of sticking plasters after he cut himself, when he got the idea for making a plectrum from a section of the box, bolted to a wristband.

The cardboard prototype was not strong enough and did not last long - but a new version using plastic video cases has proved a success.

It sees the family visiting charity shops to buy tapes, handing back the cassettes and keeping the cases!

The result is helping Darby's music career in an up-and-coming band called The Sharps.

The group describe their music as “Indie funk rock with a strong strand of Brit pop”.

Having started at Aylsham High School, and now continuing at Paston College, the 16-year-olds have attracted a large following throughout the county

Alongside guitarist and vocalist Darby is Sam Evans on drums, and twins Callum (bass and vocals) and Kieran Morgan (guitar, keyboards and vocals).

The musical talent is clearly genetic as Mr Dorras and the twins' father Tim Morgan used to play together in a band called - the Spice Gits.

While studying for A-levels at Paston, The Sharps, perform regularly at pubs as well as taking part in competitions, including reaching the regional finals of the Liquidisco contest promoting young talent.

But despite all the success in the face of adversity, Darby remains unfazed by the attention - and makes light of his handicap.

He said: “When I'm up and playing it doesn't even cross my mind that people might be looking.

“We're just so involved in the music. I don't think people are that bothered about it anyway as most people in the audience know us.

“And those that don't should be more interested in the music.”

He added: “I've never felt put at a disadvantage because of this, and it would certainly never stop me from trying to do anything.”

Among their influences are two other legends who overcame problems - though rather less drastic in nature - to reach the top: Jimi Hendrix, a left hander who turned his guitar upside down to be able to play, and the Beatles, whose bassist Paul McCartney had the same problem.

The Sharps also cite major influences as wide-ranging as the Clash and Simon and Garfunkel. They write and perform their own music, as well as having recorded several albums.

Their next gig will be on Saturday, February 10, at B2, at the Brickmakers pub on Sprowston Road, Norwich.

Their music can also be heard on www.myspace.com/thesharps.

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