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Did Pat Martino Re-Learn How to Play the Guitar?

Pat Martino is an esteemed jazz guitarist that pursued a career in music at the young age of 15. Gaining many awards for his music and having an extensive discography that clearly portrayed his exceptional talent, aneurysm-induced amnesia barely became a barrier in his decision to re-learn his passion. 

After suffering from a brain aneurysm that left him with little to no memory, Pat Martino solidified his decision to re-learn guitar, continuing his musical journey spanning many decades. 

Pat Martino’s Music-Filled Journey

Born on August 25, 1944, in Pat Azzara, South Philadelphia, Pat Martino became an esteemed composer and jazz guitarist, winning many awards within the music industry. Moreover, recognized in his utilization of mathematics in playing instruments, Pat Martino published books that mirrored his intelligence in music theory, such as the textbook Linear Expressions.

After his expulsion from a Catholic High School, Pat Martino pursued a professional career in music early as a teenager. At the young age of 15, he already performed professionally after his transfer to New York. Martino began by performing at many small jazz clubs such as the Smalls Paradise. Before living at a President Hotel’s suite, he stayed with Les Paul, a pioneer of solid-body electric guitar.

Martino continued his musical career at Smalls Paradise for six months before heading onto his next musical job at Atlantic City in Club Harlem. Since then, he’s played with many jazz organists such as Charles Earland, Joey De Francesco, Jimmy Smith, Gene Ludwig, Richard Groove Holmes, and more, earning many awards from 1995 to 2016. (Source: Radio Swiss

Martino’s Exceptional Recovery

Pat Martino encountered reoccurring seizures and headaches during his musical tour for Starbright and Joyous Lake in the late 1970s, similar to the rare occasions he experienced during childhood. In Martino’s autobiography entitled Here and Now, published in 2011, he describes the seizure he had during his performance in France in 1976.

I stopped playing and stood there for about 30 seconds. During these moments of seizure, it feels like you’re falling through a black hole; it’s like everything just escapes at the moment.

Pat Martino

His autobiography Here and Now further includes Martino’s experiences of misguided health treatments, one of which is electroshock. Soon after, Martino stopped touring and pursued a life in teaching at the Guitar Institute of Technology.

Martino was soon diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation. He had a nearly fatal aneurysm, consequentially leading to him waking up in a hospital after being sent to the emergency room in Pennsylvania Hospital. He woke up with almost no memory, not even knowing the identity of his parents.


With the aid of his family, Martino learned his past, excluding his garnered knowledge of playing guitar. Soon enough, he solidified his decision to re-learn the guitar.

Once I made the decision to try, it activated inner intuitive familiarities, like a child who hasn’t ridden their bicycle for many years and tries to do so again to reach a destination. There are moments of imbalance, but it’s subliminal, and it emerges after some mistakes, and then it strengthens.

Pat Martino

During the mid-1980s, he already began playing again, releasing a new musical album, The Return, in 1987. Since then, he’s remained resilient, dying at age 77 on November 1, 2021. (Source: The New York Times)

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