Monday, March 03, 2008

Bluesobit: Jeff Healey

Canadian guitarist Jeff Healey has died of cancer at the age of 41.

Healey was left blind after retinoblastoma claimed both his eyes at eight months old; his adopted parents encouraged his interest in music - his first gig was when he was six years old, but he'd been playing since he was three. His distinctive style of guitar-across-lap was partly because he was self-taught, and partly because a guitar is a hefty instrument for a toddler to cope with.

His first record, See The Light, came in 1988, closely followed by a role opposite Patrick Swayze in Road House; after a couple more albums, Healey gave his career a shake-up, picking up the trumpet and recording some jazz. Oh, and he did the valve trombone, too.

At the same time, he was running a club - Healey's in Toronto - which quickly built a reputation for promoting a range of local and international acts. He also created a jazz programme for Canadian radio, presenting for many years.

Healey continued to tour, but only as far as he wanted to, choosing to spend more time at home with his family - and to avoid airports:

“A tour is a nasty four-letter word in my vocabulary,” he said. “It’s something that I did for many, many years and I hate travelling. I love to play and I love to entertain, so to sort of balance things, get the best of both worlds, I’ll travel away for two or three days or something like that.”


Healey had recently made his first blues rock album since the end of the last century and had been due to tour in support of it this Spring.

It was only in 2005 that Healey discovered that the cancer which had taken his sight continued to threaten his life; last year, he fell very ill indeed. His family and friends expected him to bounce back but, sadly, it wasn't to be.

Healey died in Toronto's St Joseph's hospital yesterday evening. He's survived by his wife, a son, Derek, and a daughter, Rachel.


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The world has lost a truley talented individual that I remember coming on the scene in Roadhouse with Patrick Swayze. I remember hearing that he was discovered by Stevie Ray Vaughn also a talented artist who was a legend in his own time. I'm sure the two of them are jamming together roght now. both are sadly missed.

Anonymous said...

jeff healey was a singer that I hear in the music inside my heart. He was the best blind singer I knew. When youtube found out that he is dead I was shocked. I almost cried. But now I know that he is gone. He will forever live in my heart to his music. Miss you jeff healey have fun in heaven!

Jasmine said...

Jeff is the best singer i know.
He was the best.
I miss him dearly.
His music will always be there.
From my heart I miss him a lot.
And His music will live on in heaven.
I miss you Jeff!

Rock on I heaven.

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