Brandon Mendenhall, of Pryor, Oklahoma, has proven that people with cerebral palsy can accomplish things that others thought would never happen—–such as being the lead guitarist in an incredible rock band that’s slated to play at Rocklahoma this weekend.
Tulsa World reports that Mendenhall was told by his doctors and even his grandfather that he would never be able to play an instrument. This was crushing news to him as a child. He grew up idolizing musical greats, such as Johnny Cash, Michael Jackson, and Prince.
Mendenhall was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was just a small child. His doctor told his late grandfather, who was a musician himself, that there was no way Mendenhall would ever be able to play the guitar and it would be best to discourage it early, so that the boy wouldn’t get his hopes up. And that’s just what Mendenhall’s grandfather did.
Mendenhall became obsessed with music at a young age and when his grandfather told him to forget it, it “lit a fire in his soul” that still sparks today when he plays guitar.
And it worked because it lit a fire in my soul to want to be a guitarist and want to be a musician — not only to prove him wrong, but it really set the tone for me to prove the whole world wrong and go out there and be a voice for people with disabilities.”
Mendenhall admits that learning and playing the guitar was especially difficult. To help himself learn, he found a method that worked best for him and stuck with it. It paid off. In 2008, he formed a band called The Mendenhall Experiment, a hard rock and metal band with a positive message.
We have a positive message. We want to inspire others to perceive people with disabilities in a positive light.”
Mendenhall said it’s unfair that others have a perception that people with cerebral palsy can’t play instruments. He said he runs into many people whose first reaction is to feel sorry for him, something he’d rather not happen.
And that’s not right. I would like to see society embrace people with disabilities instead of immediately giving them sympathy.”
Mendenhall and his band are performing at Rocklahoma this weekend, in Prior, Oklahoma. He hopes to meet the drummer of rock band, Def Leppard, who has been playing drums with just one arm for decades. Mendenhall said that the drummer, Rick Allen, is proof that people with disabilities can excel at music despite their limitations. Allen lost his left arm after a car accident in the 1980s.
Meanwhile, the lead guitar player is amped up for the concert festival, and hopes to be a voice for people with disabilities.
The reward we get out of it is we get to live our dreams of being in a rock band and being able to play with all the bands we grew up listening to and playing all these cool festivals.”
Check out The Mendenhall Experiment below, with their hit song, “Seize the Day.”