Two for Tuesday: Jeff Healey

It’s one month until my birthday (March 25), and thought it might be fun to feature artists who share my birthday for the next month.

Today’s artist is Canadian guitarist Jeff Healey. Jeff went blind when he was a year old, the result of retinoblastoma (a cancer of the eyes). His eyes were removed and he was fitted with artificial replacements. He took up the guitar and developed the method of resting the guitar on his lap and playing it like a lap steel. He formed his first band when he was seventeen, and with bassist Joe Rockman and drummer Tom Stephen formed The Jeff Healey Band in the Eighties. Signed to Arista Records, they released five albums in the late Eighties and Nineties. He also appeared in 1989’s Road House with Patrick Swayze.

Starting in 2000, Jeff took his playing in a different direction, jazz. He had been an active collector of 78 rpm records from the Twenties and Thirties, eventually ending up with over thirty thousand, and released three albums of traditional jazz as well as hosting a CBC radio program, My Kind Of Jazz. In 2005, cancer returned, this time in the form of sarcomas in his legs which had metastasized into his lungs. He died of cancer in 2008 at the age of 41.

You can see Jeff’s style of playing in these two videos. The first track here, “See The Light,” comes from his album of the same name, released in 1988. He’s accompanied here by Doctor John on piano, Marcus Miller on bass, and Omar Hakim on drums. The second track, “Lost In Your Eyes,” comes from the Jeff Healey Band’s second album, 1992’s Feel This. Released as a single in 1993, it charted at #15 in Canada and #91 in the US.

We’ll continue with other musicians born on March 25 next week.

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