Jeff Healey – Blind singer from Roadhouse

** Blind singer from Patrick Swayze’s Roadhouse (1989)

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Jeff HealeyNorman Jeffrey Healey (March 25, 1966 – March 2, 2008), known professionally as Jeff Healey. He was a blind Canadian jazz and blues-rock guitarist and vocalist.

Death of Jeff Healey
Jeff Healey died of cancerat St. Joseph’s Health Centre in his home town of Toronto.
Jeff Healey wwas 41 years old at the time of his death. His death came a month before the release of his new album, Mess of Blues, which will be his first rock album in eight years.

Jeff Healey had a surgery for Lung Cancer last year (Blog Entry: Jeff Healey Lung Cancer)

Patrick Swayze – On March 5, 2008, media announced that the Roadhouse buddy Patrick Swayze is battling cancer. (Blog Entry: Patrick Swayze battling cancer)

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Jeff Healey Biography 

Life and career
Born in Toronto, Ontario, Healey was raised in the city’s west end. His father was a firefighter. Healey lost his sight when he was one year old, due to retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the eyes which he suffered from throughout his life and which ultimately killed him. His eyes had to be surgically removed, and he was given artificial replacements. He began playing guitar when he was three, developing his unique style of playing the instrument flat on his lap.

When he was 17 he formed the band Blue Direction, a four-piece band which primarily played bar-band cover tunes. Among the other musicians were bassist Jeremy Littler, drummer Graydon Chapman, 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, who formed a trio and made their first public appearance at The Birds 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 the famed blues club Albert’s Hall. At this point, Healey and the band were featured in a movie, Road House, which was inspired when its creator saw Healey 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".

Healey was never particularly enamored with the world of rock music, however, and soon left it for music he preferred, vintage jazz. He had been sitting in with traditional jazz bands around Toronto since the beginning of his music career.

In his later years, he released three CDs from his true passion, traditional American jazz from the 1920s and 1930s. He was an avid record collector and amassed a collection of well over 25,000 78 rpm records. For many years Healey played his music-at Healey’s on Bathurst Street in Toronto, where he played with a rock band on Thursday nights, and with his jazz group, Jeff Healey’s Jazz Wizards, on Saturday afternoons. The club moved to a bigger location at 56 Blue Jays Way and it was named Jeff Healey’s Roadhouse. Though he had lent his name and often played there, Jeff Healey did not own or manage the bar.

Though known primarily as a guitarist, Healey also played trumpet and clarinet during live performances. He also appeared on Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan’s CD/DVD Gillan’s Inn. He can also be seen playing the electric guitar with Stevie Ray Vaughan in SRV’s rock video Look At Little Sister.

Healey had, from time to time, hosted a CBC Radio program entitled My Kind of Jazz, in which he played records from his vast vintage jazz collection. He hosted a program of the same name on Toronto station CJRT-FM, also known as JAZZ.FM91.

He had also been touring with a group called the Jazz Wizards, playing American jazz from the 1920s, 1930s and early 1940s.

They had been planning to perform a series of shows in Britain, Germany and Holland in April 2008.

Healey discovered and helped develop the careers of other artists, including Amanda Marshall and Terra Hazelton.

On January 11, 2007, Healey underwent surgery to remove metastatic tissue from both lungs. In the previous eighteen months he had two sarcomas removed from his legs.

Healey was married to his wife Christie with two children

1988: See the Light
1989: Road House Soundtrack
1990: Hell to Pay
1992: Feel This
1995: Cover to Cover
2000: Get Me Some
2002: Among Friends
2004: Adventures in Jazzland
2006: It’s Tight Like That
2008: Mess of Blues