Oh, what a feat (pun intended)! Music-lover Mark Goffeney 46, from San Diego, was born without arms but was determined to fashion himself a career in his dream industry.
Mark was raised by a musical family and by the age of nine was already working on his own music, as well as acting as a poster child for several charities.
Musically, Mark started out by playing the trombone in a school band until his father brought home an old guitar that was missing two strings. Deciding that it would be a challenge to learn, Mark took up the instrument and began practising. While teaching himself the basics, Mark kick-started his life as a musician on the streets, performing for and entertaining both locals and tourists.
He has now gone from street to stage and plays in a successful rock band. His solo performances have taken him across Europe and Asia.
Mark, who goes by the stage-name ‘Big Toe’, has even opened gigs for world-famous acts including Tom Petty, Def Leppard, Journey and Rush.
‘I like rock and can draw a crowd and get people singing. I don’t do what I do as a way of asking for help – I am here to entertain.’
It is estimated that the musician raised more than $13M (£8.5M) for children’s charities between 1973 and 1985 when he appeared on telethons for the Variety Club and the March of Dimes.
Influenced by the likes of the Beatles and Kiss, whose records his parents had around the house, Mark and a friend began working on a technique that would allow him to play the guitar.
Using an object to stabilize the instrument’s head, Mark would place the guitar on the floor, strumming with his left foot and creating chords with his right.
‘I was goofing around and my friend said that I would need to learn chords if I was going to be a good guitarist,’ said Mark. ‘It was hard – scruffy and noisy to begin with – but I could play a whole song within about a month.
‘People started talking about it in my neighborhood pretty quickly. I knew that I wanted to be in a band right from very beginning.’ By 1996 Mark had founded his own band ‘Big Toe’ along with another musician, James Neal.
At the end of the decade, in 1999, he produced his first album – the self-titled ‘Big Toe’ – and began work as a speaker in the early 2000s.
Perhaps his most surprising gig during this time was in an advert that aired during the 2000 and 2001 NFL Super Bowls.
He said: ‘I only want people to tip me if they feel entertained – it’s a tip, not a donation.’I know how to work a crowd of 10 to 10,000 and would love the opportunity to play in some big venues. I feel qualified to and those turning up would have a good time.