GEORGE DENNEHY was born without arms, but that did not stop him from becoming an accomplished musician
By Joan Tupponce
Former drummer Mike Malinin of The Goo Goo Dolls was surprised by the constant bursts of light that erupted from a sea of cameras when the band started playing its hit “Iris” at Musikfest 2012. Flashes of light are normal for the band, but the steady barrage seemed excessive. And the cameras weren’t aimed at the group. Instead, they were pointed at George Dennehy, an 18-year-old musician who plays guitar despite having no arms.
George plays with his toes.
“People were going crazy,” recalls Malinin. “They were so impressed by him, as they should be.” Malinin discovered George’s exceptional talent after a fan sent him a YouTube video taken when George performed “Iris” at the 2012 Ashland Strawberry Faire in Hanover County, Va., where George lives. “It was amazing to see it,” Malinin recalls. “It was a good cover. I was impressed. He did it so well.”
Malinin’s management company arranged for George to play a couple of songs before the band took the stage at Musikfest in Bethlehem, Pa., and then join them for “Iris.” The experience was amazing, George says. “They are one of my favorite bands. Playing onstage with them was incredible. I don’t know what could top this.”
Now 19, George, who was born with no arms, is traveling the country performing his own songs and serving as a motivational speaker. He credits his steadfast determination to Sharon and Mike Dennehy, who adopted him as a baby and, he says, saved his life.