Born:- Norman Jeffrey Healey March 25th 1966 - March 2nd 2008.
Jeff Healey was born in Toronto, Ontario and raised in the West End of the City. As an infant he had been adopted, his adoptive father was a local Firefighter.
Healey lost his sight to Cancer (Retinoblastoma) when he was only 8 months old, having both his eyes Surgically removed and artificial ones implanted.
He lived for 38 years Cancer free but developed Sarcoma in his legs and despite undergoing Surgery for this the sarcoma spread to his lungs causing his death in 2008.
Jeff started playing at age 3, quickly developing his unique style with the Guitar flat on his lap. By age 17 he had formed a band, Blue Direction, and was playing various local clubs in Toronto, including the Colonial Tavern.
Band mates were:-
Bassist Jeremy Littler, Drummer Graydon Chapman and school friend Rob Quail on second Guitar.
Not long after this he was introduced to Joe Rockman, a Bassist, and Tom Stephen, a Drummer. They formed a 3 piece and soon made their first public appearance at The Birds Nest, located at the Chicago Diner in Toronto.
They received great Write-ups in local NOW Magazine and were soon to be playing almost nightly ion the local Club circuit. It was at the famed blues club Albert's Hall where he was discovered by already Guitar Virtuoso's Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert Collins!!!
in 1988 the band was signed to Arista Records and released their first album 'See the Light' which included the Hit single 'Angel Eyes' and also the song 'Hideaway' which received a nomination in the Grammy's for 'Best Instrumental'.
At the same time as recording this album the band were also busy filming the film 'Roadhouse' with Patrick Swayze and also recording the soundtrack too!!!
In 1990 the band won the 'Entertainer of the Year' Juno Award.
Between 1990 and 1994 they released the albums 'Hell to Pay' and 'Feel This', giving them a string of 10 Hit Singles in Canada, including a cover of The Beatles 'While my guitar gently weeps'. This version included Jeff Lynne and George Harrison on Acoustic Guitars and Backing Vocals!!!
By the release of the 2000 album Get Me Some, Healey had grown weary of the world of rock music and began to concentrate his considerable talents in a direction closer to his heart, hot jazz. He went on to release three CDs of music from this true passion, traditional American jazz from the 1920s and 1930s. He had been sitting in with traditional jazz bands around Toronto since the beginning of his music career. Although he was primarily known as a Guitarist Jeff also played Trumpet during many of these Live Performances.
Jeff was also recognised as an avid Record Collector with an amazing collection of over 30,000 78RPM Records! He had used this collection and his vast knowledge to occasionally host a couple of Radio Shows called 'My Kind of Jazz' on CBC Radio and on JAZZ91FM.
For many years Healey performed at his club, 'Healey's' on Bathurst Street in Toronto, where he played with a rock band on Thursday nights and with his jazz group on Saturday afternoons.
The club moved to a bigger location at 56 Blue Jays Way and it was rechristened Jeff Healey's Roadhouse. (Though he had lent his name to the club and often played there, Jeff Healey did not own or manage the bar.)
Over the years Jeff had sat in and played with many, many legendary Performers including:-
Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, BB King, ZZ Top, Steve Lukather and Eric Clapton to name just a few!
In 2006 he appeared on Ian Gillan's DVD Gillan's Inn.
On Jan 11th 2007 he underwent surgery on both lungs to remove Matastatic Tissue, this was after two other Operations during the previous 18 months to remove the Sarcomas from his legs.
On March 2nd 2008 Jeff died of Cancer in his Hometown of Toronto. He was 41 years old. His death came a month before the release of his new album, Mess of Blues, which was his first rock album in 8 years.
1986: Adrianna/See the Light (private press)
1988: See the Light
1989: Road House Soundtrack
1990: Hell to Pay
1992: Feel This
1995: Cover to Cover
2000: Get Me Some
2002: Among Friends
2003: Live At Healey's
2004: Adventures in Jazzland
2005: The Jeff Healey Band Live at Montreux 1999
2006: It's Tight Like That
2008: Mess of Blues
--Sensible Jones 22:17, 6 February 2009 (CET)