Band Member and Burn Survivor

By: Scott Wingender

On Dec. 7, 1981 my whole life changed. I fell asleep with a cigarette. By the time I woke up, the room was engulfed in flames. I made it to the door before I passed out from smoke inhalation. Shortly afterwards, my cousin opened the door to my room and pulled me out. But by that time, I was already 75% 3-d degree burned.


I was rushed to a small local hospital. Then life-flight flew me the burn unit at Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas, where I spent the next 6 months.

There was nothing left of my nose and upper lip. Under my eyes was a patch that had to be graphed. My neck, back, chest, arms, hands, and half of my left leg was also graphed. The doctor did a procedure on my forehead and made a flap to create a new nose. A piece of my neck was used to make a new upper lip as it had hair follicles in it.

On my left hand, 2 fingers are hyper extended and the other 2 fingers, the bones had to be fused due to the fact that the ligaments were totally lost. My thumb is the only finger on that hand that functions normally. I had to have six operations on my left hand. Despite that I relearned a new way to play guitar. I had been a guitarist before I was burned so I had the knowledge. I had played in a band with Melissa Ethridge in the late 70's.

The fingers on my left hand play the notes, chords and stuns. The other guitarists that see me play are so happy that I can plat with 2 partially working fingers. I also play Bass guitar, keyboards, and have written countless songs.

I have been on the road twice with Shawn Dale Barnett who is the "world famous deaf drummer." He learned how to play by visual, and feeling the speakers to get the rhythm. He sits on my amp when he plays. We played and gave talks in Detroit and California. Shawn is still currently touring.

Thinking back, I never thought I would go this far. I spent so much time wearing a full body Jobes body suit. I also wore a facial mask, had splints on both hands and fought staff infection. I am glad to say that I have come this far, play in a band again and help other burn survivors. Below is a picture of Wade Hayes and me "famous country musician" when my band opened up for his.