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Jeff Healey

From Academic Kids

Jeff Healey (born March 25, 1966) is a Canadian blues-rock guitarist.

Jeff Healey was raised in Toronto's west end. His father was a firefighter. Healey is perhaps most notable for his blindness, and his unique style of playing guitar flat on his lap. He lost his sight when he was one year old, due to cancer of the eyes - his eyes had to be surgically removed, and he was given artificial replacements. Nevertheless he began playing guitar when he was only three, developing his unique playing style since his parents had no idea how the instrument was supposed to be held or played, leaving him to figure out his own approach.

When he was 17 he formed the band Blue Direction, also known as Vision. This band was a five-piece band, primarily playing bar-band cover tunes; among the other musicians were bassist Ian McIntyre and a schoolmate, Rob Quail on second guitar. This band played various local clubs in Toronto, including the Colonial Tavern.

Shortly thereafter, he was introduced to two musicians, bassist Joe Rockman and drummer Tom Stephen, and formed a trio, who made their first public appearance at "The Robin's Nest," located upstairs at Chicago's Diner on Queen Street West in Toronto. The new band received a write-up in Toronto's NOW magazine, and quickly were playing almost nightly in local clubs such as Grossman's Tavern and famed blues club Albert's Hall. At this point, Jeff and the band were featured in a movie, "Roadhouse," which was inspired when its creator saw Jeff playing. With the resulting stardom, they soon signed with Arista Records and in 1988 released See The Light, which included the hit single "Angel Eyes." The song "Hideaway" was nominated for the "best instrumental" Grammy Award, and in 1990 the band won the "Entertainer of the Year" Juno Award. Other hits have included "How Long Can a Man Be Strong" and a cover of The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Jeff was never particularly enamored with the world of rock music, however, and soon left it for music he preferred, vintage jazz. Jeff had been sitting in with traditional jazz bands around Toronto since the beginning of his music career.

In recent years he has released two CDs from his true passion, traditional American jazz from the 1920s and 1930s. He is an avid record collector and has amassed a collection of well over 25,000 78 r.p.m. records. Currently, Jeff has his own music-based club in Toronto, "Healey's," where he plays with a rock band on Thursday nights and with his jazz group, Jeff Healey's Jazz Wizards, on Saturday afternoons.

Jeff Healey is also a disc jockey, playing records from his own vintage jazz collection. He can currently be heard on Toronto station CJRT-FM (JAZZ-FM), Mondays at 9-11 p.m. and rebroadcast on Sunday mornings from 7 until 9 a.m.

Discography

  • 1988 See the Light
  • 1990 Hell to Pay
  • 1992 Feel This
  • 1995 Cover to Cover
  • 1998 Very Best Of
  • 1999 Master Hits Remastered
  • 2000 Get Me Some
  • 2002 Among Friends
  • 2004 Adventures in Jazzland

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