Published Mar 03, 2008Celebrated blues-rock and jazz virtuoso Jeff Healey died yesterday (March 2) after a life-long battle with cancer. In January of 2007, Healey underwent surgery to remove cancerous tissue from his legs, and later from both lungs, then using aggressive radiation treatments and chemotherapy, however, it failed to halt the spread of the disease.
Robbed of his sight as a baby due to a rare form of cancer, retino blastoma, Healey started to play guitar when he was three years old, holding the instrument unconventionally across his lap. He formed his first band at 17, but soon formed a trio named the Jeff Healey Band that went on to earn both a cameo in the Patrick Swayze film, Road House and a Grammy nomination for their debut album, See the Light.
In 1990, Healey won his first Juno as Entertainer of the Year and went on to record four more blues albums. He eventually turned to his true love of jazz, both playing trumpet and guitar in the band Jeff Healeys Jazz Wizards and DJing on CBC Radio using his extensive 30,000-plus collection of 78-rpm records.
At the time of his death, Jeff was on the verge of releasing his first rock/blues album in eight years. Mess of Blues is scheduled for release in Canada on April 22, through Stony Plain, the independent Edmonton-based label that released his three jazz CDs.
Healey is survived by his wife, Cristie, daughter Rachel (13) and son Derek (three). He was 41.
Jeff Healey Band "See the Light