Monday, March 03, 2008

Let's take a moment to mark the passing of a Canadian giant as Jeff Healey has died of cancer at the young age of 41. Jeff's been battling cancer for a long time, blind since he was just 1-year old. He was known for his distinct guitar-on-the-lap style of playing and was a world class blues guitarist, not to mention playing jazz clarinet and trumpet. Jeff Healey was also a huge fan of jazz, and owned one hell of a record collection of 35,000 rare and obscure albums, which formed the basis of his radio show, My Kinda Jazz. He was a constant presence in his contributions for charitable foundations, the accomplishments of the Jeff Healey Band, and he also ran the popular Toronto jazz/rock/blues bar Jeff Healey's Roadhouse where he frequently could be found playing.

Jeff has been battling a resurgence of cancerous tissue for the past year, but still managed to perform, booked a tour through Canada and Europe, and was planning to release his first rock/blues album in eight years, Mess of Blues, recorded in studios in Toronto, in concert in London, England, and at the bar that bears his name, Jeff Healey's Roadhouse. It goes on sale in Europe March 20, and in Canada and the U.S. April 22.

Toronto Star: Jeff Healey obituary

Official website of award-winning artist Jeff Healey.

In his memory, I'm reprinting a funny excerpt i originally published in August 2006 "I need to learn Braille". Here's to you Jeff:

A few years ago, Grant invited me to meet him and Glenn at Jeff Healey's bar in downtown Toronto. Glenn is a blind co-worker of Grant's, a real stand-up guy. Well, apparently Glenn went to a blind school with Jeff Healey.

I go to the bar, meet the guys, sit through a set by Jeff and then meet him after the show. Hell of a nice guy, reputed to have one of the best vintage jazz album collections in the country, just great to be around him. I'm having the time of my life, Jeff is buying a round. Jeff and Glen are telling school stories. You assume when you're blind, that you act a little more carefully, like when you're sighted and the lights go out, you move slow so you don't stub a toe. Not Jeff and Glenn: "Remember when you fell off that roof that time?" "Yeah, how about when you jumped off that bridge?"

It's all good. I get up to go to the washroom. There's a step-up to reach the bathrooms and I trip on it as I go in. I return to the table and mention to Jeff how I almost tripped on the ledge. He laughs and tells me that the banister (the railing on the staircase) on the way down to the club has Braille written under it, so when if you read Braille and feel it under the rails you walk down, it will read: "Don't tell the sighted guys, but there's a step up to reach the washrooms. They'll trip and we'll have a laugh." Glenn laughed and said "Oh yeah, you didn't notice."

I believed that story for 3 f$#&ing years. I'm told Glenn still laughs about it.

*sigh* good thing i'm so pretty, 'cause stupid don't pay the bills.

Jeff Healey: world class blues-rock guitarist. Funny guy.

PS If anyone remembers me telling a story about how Jeff Healey showed up at a gig and jammed on trumpet, email me. I can't remember the damned details, but I remember him joining a band onstage and playing horns at either Montreal Bistro or The Rex. I know I saw him do this, I just can't remember for the life of me where.

Jeff Healey - Wikipedia
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Anonymous said...

yeah I remember hearing about his death on the radio on Monday, but nothing since, I figured there would be some sort of memorial.

I still love that story about you at the Roadhouse - crackes me up every time -

talk to you later