One-Armed Drummer Reminds Us What It Means to Heal

Photo by Faris Mohammed on Unsplash

I don’t know this dude. Never spoken with him, never met him. Yet, this guy has made me feel something today that hasn’t risen up to the surface for many years… inspiration.

Sure, I get little poofs of inspiration every once in a while, but they come in short bursts and they usually last for about a minute.

In the shitshow of a world we live in right now, this dude and his story were a welcomed divergence.

The fellow’s name is Jack Thomas. Maybe you’ve heard of him within the last few days. A video of him has been circulating on Facebook and other social media outlets all week. I’m not on social media, so I found his story while browsing through “What’s new in metal and rock [music]” stories.

I stumbled upon a headline about a guy with only one arm playing along to a song by the band Slipknot. I clicked on it and it sent me to a Youtube video of his performance. When I had finished watching it, I noticed my cheeks had been in the same position throughout the entire video — smiling. I’m not easily amused, nor am I the type who gets all gaga over a nice lil’ feel-good story, but for some reason, this one resonated.

Maybe I’m still just a sucker for musicians. Who knows…?

For those unfamiliar with their music, let me just give a little sneezer on the band Slipknot: um… they’re intense. Well, at least they were twenty years ago; I haven’t kept tabs on the band in recent years.

Slipknot (Image from Wikimedia commons/ krash44)

The band blasted onto the hardcore rock scene with their first full-length studio album back in 1999. Slipknot was the only nine-member hard rock band I’d heard in recent times, and they had an insane amount of instruments going on. They bounced around like crazed monkeys on stage, banging on whatever would give them percussion (including beer kegs) and they all wore different creepy ass masks that made Jigsaw look like a cuddly baby panda.

Just to hammer home [the amount of energy this band brings]… they’ve suffered broken heels, broken ankles, broken ribs, split heads, and a broken neck — all while performing on stage — and that’s not even close to naming all of the combined injuries acquired by the group.

Besides the visual sideshow act they portray, they are also genius musicians. Apart from speed or death metal, some of their songs are among the fastest pieces of bass (kick) drumming and other instruments in the business. I remember being in awe the first time I heard them.

Needless to say, their songs are hard to play. People who still have all of their limbs and appendages have a bitch of a time trying to cover a Slipknot tune.

Enter Jack Thomas.

I don’t know that much about this guy, but I know all that I need; enough to change my day for the better.

Jack Thomas is 22 years old. He lost his right arm at the age of 17 in a workplace conveyor belt accident… and, he’s a drummer.

He was a drummer before his tragic accident, and he’s a drummer after his accident.

This morning I watched him drum along seamlessly to one of Slipknot’s more popular and catchy songs, ‘Duality’. During the intro of the video, Jack says a little info about himself, and then he sits down at his kit— and lets it rip [on the drums].

Photo by Gabriel Barletta on Unsplash

Towards the end of the video after his set, Jack talks about his journey and conveys pretty much everything I was thinking upon the first minute of this video: “This dude’s determined.”

He gives a little encouraging pep talk about losing his arm while already being an avid drummer. Naturally, he was scared that he wouldn’t be able to beat the hides anymore. Luckily those thoughts didn’t last very long for him.

He drew some inspiration from Rick Allen (Def Leppard’s drummer) and was back to drumming right after his surgery, and as we can see from the video — he’s not missing a damn thing. Not a beat, nor anything else.

Which brings me to my point today. We must persevere and overcome our obstacles. Do you think Jack woke up that day thinking “I need to be prepared for tomorrow, just in case my arm goes bye-bye todayNo. He didn’t know what he was in for when he got up for work that morning. The next day, his life was totally different, yet he didn’t let his crummy circumstance take him down. He could have stopped right there and let this horrible accident be his dream killer… but nope. Jack kept going.

Would an unexpected affliction keep you from continuing life as you know it… or would you be strong and stay positive in the face of such an occurrence?

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

What I do know is… it can be done. Especially if you have determination and heart. Just like Jack.

Today Jack brought something I already knew back up to the forefront of my brain, which is — we heal.

Inside, and out.

It may take a little bit of time, but it will happen.

Jack could’ve very easily woke up after surgery and said “This sucks, there’s no way I’m ever gonna be able to drum again.” But he didn’t.

Instead, Jack used his strength to heal himself on the inside while doctors and science healed him on the outside.

Everybody goes through tough spots, some worse than others. Whether it’s right now or later, as individuals or as a whole planet, bad things will occur. There are some things we just cannot change.

What we can do, is choose how we come out of it.

We may not always believe it, but whatever life throws our way can be worked through. Broken pieces can be salvaged and put back together to make something new.

We could all take a little cue from Jack Thomas.

If we stay buoyant and rise above our own overcast minds, we can prevail and flourish in the aftermath of any calamity that befalls us.

Stay strong,


I write about life, death.... and anything else I need to get off my chest.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store