blues news, Canada
Guitar Giant Dies in Toronto at Age 41
Canadian guitarist Jeff Healey has died in Toronto Sunday after a battle with cancer at the age of 41. His website said Sunday that he died with his wife, Cristie, at his bedside in Toronto’s St. Joseph’s Hospital.
One of Canada’s premier blues and jazz musicians, Jeff Healey died on the eve of his latest CD release, Mess of Blues, his first blues release in eight years. The album is due for release in Europe in March and in Canada on April 22.
Healey is perhaps best known for his 1988 album See The Light, which included the hit single Angel Eyes. He was also nominated for a Grammy for the song Hideaway and won a Juno for Entertainer of the Year (1990).
The blind musician lost his vision as a baby to a rare form of retinal cancer and battled the disease throughout this life. As a toddler he picked up a guitar and placing it on his knees, began developing his distinct sound and style.
As a teenager, Healey formed a four-piece band called the Blue Direction and was playing in clubs throughout the Toronto area. Several years later he formed the Jeff Healey band with bassist Joe Rockman and drummer Tom Stephen. The group packed houses across Canada and sold over a million albums in the U.S.
Over the years, Healey shared the stage with such music greats as Stevie Ray Vaughan, George Harrison and B.B. King.
One of Healey’s greatest passions was jazz from the 1920s and ’30s. He collected over 25,000 78’s and formed a traditional jazz band with whom he released several CDs. He also hosted a radio show featuring the music of the Golden Era at Toronto radio station CJRT.
Healey had a long fight with cancer. In 2007, he underwent surgery to remove cancerous growths from his lungs. He had earlier had two sarcomas removed from his legs.
Healey is survived by his wife and two children, 13-year-old Rachel and three-year-old Derek. Other survivors include his father Bud and stepmother Rose, and two sisters, Laura and Linda.
Funeral and memorial arrangements are pending.
for more info visit www.jeffhealey.com