Django: A Life on the Move
Moi Aussi, Rue d’Alésia, 1928

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Django Reinhardt 03

Django returned to his caravan late one evening to find it full of celluloid flowers that his young wife, Bella, had made to sell the following morning at the cemetery. When he picked up the sole candle, its wick fell onto the flowers and the interior was soon an inferno. Although the couple both escaped, burns to his left hand and the right side of his body were thought potentially life threatening. He was rushed to Lariboisière hospital where the surgeon, fearing gangrene, decided to amputate his right leg. Django refused. Instead, the family moved him to a nursing home in Rue d’Alésia, and very slowly the leg began to heal. (ChD p.43)

Reinhardt had recorded Moi Aussi [968-A] with accordionist Victor Marceau, the month before his accident. A doctor in the nursing home suggested that a guitar, which required a lighter touch than the banjo, be brought in to encourage the use of his damaged left hand. The injured third and fourth fingers were effectively paralysed, and so Django set about relearning the instrument, resulting in the development of his unique playing technique.