“I couldn’t even walk, but I thought, ‘At least I can play guitar!’ When I picked one up, I just couldn’t. That was the final straw”: Deryck Whibley had to rebuild Sum 41 after nearly dying – so why is he ready to break up the band?

Deryck Whibley and his 1968 Les Paul
(Image credit: Ariana Whibley)

If there’s anything that sits chief among every guitarist’s list of deepest and darkest fears, it’s the thought of not being able to pick up their favorite instrument ever again. Sum 41 singer/guitarist Deryck Whibley experienced this living nightmare back in 2014, after being hospitalized with severe kidney and liver damage as a direct consequence of alcohol addiction.

He was told in no uncertain terms that one more drink could be fatal, which prompted him to decide enough was enough. He knew he had plenty of music left in him. There was just one problem: he didn’t have the strength to hold a guitar, let alone play one.

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Amit Sharma

Amit has been writing for titles like Total GuitarMusicRadar and Guitar World for over a decade and counts Richie Kotzen, Guthrie Govan and Jeff Beck among his primary influences as a guitar player. He's worked for magazines like Kerrang!Metal HammerClassic RockProgRecord CollectorPlanet RockRhythm and Bass Player, as well as newspapers like Metro and The Independent, interviewing everyone from Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy to Slash and Jimmy Page, and once even traded solos with a member of Slayer on a track released internationally. As a session guitarist, he's played alongside members of Judas Priest and Uriah Heep in London ensemble Metalworks, as well as handled lead guitars for legends like Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols, The Faces) and Stu Hamm (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, G3).