Friday, May 10, 2013 | Categories: Features
'As It Happens' is a Gabriel Award winner. The Gabriels recognize broadcasting excellence throughout North America, for works that, quote: "uplift and nourish the human spirit". Our Gabriel was granted for a story we did about Jason Becker.
At just 20 years old, Jason Becker was set to stun the rock world. He had just landed a coveted gig as the guitarist for rock superstar David Lee Roth. That's when tragedy struck. Jason was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Within months, Jason lost his ability to move and speak. And he was given just a few years to live.
And yet, more than two decades later, Jason is still here -- still making music. Last year, a documentary of Jason's life, called "Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet" was released.
Carol spoke with Jason -- with interpretive help from his father, Gary. But first, here is Carol's discussion with the film's director, Jesse Vile. Jesse became interested in Jason's story after hearing Jason's music. Jesse couldn't believe how talented a guitarist Jason had been, and became inspired by Jason's personal story, and his refusal to let his condition limit him.
Jason still thrives on making music, and he is able to continue composing via a unique eye language created by his father, Gary. Originally, Gary had the letters of the alphabet on a Perspex board, and Jason moved his eyes to point to a letter. In time, Gary realised that neither he nor his son needed the board anymore - Gary was could just read his Jason's eye movements.
The ability to communicate, along with the support of his family and friends, has kept Jason positive and productive. And because of that, despite what ALS has taken from him, Jason thinks he is a lucky man.