I've always been a fan of early jazz recordings, especially those of Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Billie Holliday, Stéphane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt and others of that era.
I've known that Reinhardt's hand was injured and deformed by a fire, but I hadn't actually seen a clear video of him playing the guitar by chording with just two fingers until I saw the video below. I played guitar when I was younger, so I have some appreciation for what it takes to finger the frets. It's hard for me to believe what I am seeing and hearing when I watch Reinhardt's left hand.
On the night of 2 November 1928, Reinhardt was going to bed in the wagon that he and his wife shared in the caravan. He knocked over a candle, which ignited the extremely flammable celluloid that his wife used to make artificial flowers. The wagon was quickly engulfed in flames. The couple escaped, but Reinhardt suffered extensive burns over half his body. During his 18-month hospitalization, doctors recommended amputation for his badly damaged right leg. Reinhardt refused the surgery and was eventually able to walk with the aid of a cane.
More crucial to his music, the fourth finger (ring finger) and fifth finger (little) of Reinhardt's left hand were badly burned. Doctors believed that he would never play guitar again. Reinhardt applied himself intensely to relearning his craft, however, making use of a new guitar bought for him by his brother, Joseph Reinhardt, who was also an accomplished guitarist. While he never regained the use of those two fingers, Reinhardt regained his musical mastery by focusing on his left index and middle fingers, using the two injured fingers only for chord work.