Jeff Healey: 1966-2008
It was a rare type of eye cancer that robbed guitarist Jeff Healey of his eyesight when he was only one year old, and a cancer that spread to his lungs would eventually take his life on March 2, but the prodigiously talented blues and jazz guitarist managed to fit an impressive amount into his 41 years of life.
Healey was best known to film fans as the house band leader in the Patrick Swayze cult favorite Road House (1989), but the Toronto native found considerable success with the resulting label contract and his hit single “Angel Eyes.” He released a popular cover of “My Guitar Gently Weeps,” played alongside the likes of George Harrison, Stevie Ray Vaughn and B.B. King, and even nabbed a Grammy nomination for the song “Hideaway,” before returning eventually to his first love: vintage jazz. He released several albums on this theme, and in addition to playing a weekly jam session in Toronto, he occasionally hosted the CBC show My Kinda Jazz, which allowed him to showcase his collection of 30,000-plus jazz records. A father of two, Healey was readying the release of Mess of Blues, his first rock-blues album in eight years. As B.B. King told EW, “Jeff’s passing is a tragic loss to the world of blues. His life was cut short. He was courageous throughout his battle with cancer, and his special talent will be greatly missed.”