I almost never have stage fright. In fact, the more people that are out in the crowd, the more energy I feel, and it rubs off on me, always in a good way. It loosens me up and makes me believe I can “swing for the fences”. I probably don't actually play any better, but I sure do feel like I do.
Joe Satriani once said a great comment about stage fright. He said that almost everyone in the audience wants you to succeed. They really hope you play well and bring the house down, so don't be afraid to be up there. They're all pulling for you. And even if you're not playing your best, most people don't really notice when you hit a "clam" or two, as Les Paul used to call them.
That's not to say that I have never gone down in flames. Example: A broken string on a guitar that has a whammy bar causes all the other strings to go out of tune. When it breaks in the middle of a song, well, that's not a good thing. Or, if a mic cable decides to fail, suddenly your vocals are not getting out. Embarassing.
Or, a “Nick Jonas moment". I'm not sure who he is, but I know he's famous. A few years ago, there was a viral YouTube video of him blowing a guitar solo onstage at an awards show. Personally, I don't think it's all that bad, but I will say that it is a pretty good example of Guitarist Brain Freeze. Check it out:
I'm no stranger to hitting the wrong note, though I can usually slide up or down the fretboard to make it seem like I meant to be there in the first place. But sometimes it just doesn't work out. About a month ago, I was playing a song by the Zach Brown Band called “Where The Boat Leaves From”, and on that magical day, I made Nick Jonas sound like a musical prodigy. I started out on the absolute worst wrong note possible, and it went downhill from there. I never found the right key. At one point, I completely stopped playing for a few seconds, then started playing again, and once again, started out on the wrong note followed by a flurry of many others, all of which were also wrong. I never recovered.
I've played that song's guitar solo hundreds of times, but on that day, for whatever reason, every neuron in my brian misfired, and I somehow couldn't manage to find my footing. It was so bad that I broke out laughing and could barely sing the second verse. I mean, it's no big deal; it's just one song after all. And if there's anything I know, it's to never take this stuff too seriously. Besides, even though I couldn't find the right note, at least I had it surrounded!
I am pretty sure that I was recording my audio at the time (as I often do), but I can't find the recording. If I ever find it, I will post it here. Legendary.