Aw, Jeff Healey died. I liked most of his musical phases, and have a funny story.
I saw Jeff once in the biggest bar in a small Ontario town, in his hard-rockin’ See The Light period. It was straight-ahead fast rowdy electric-blues raunch, done well; suitable for drinking beer and getting down, which everybody was.
Now, Jeff was blind, and played sitting down with the guitar face-up on his lap. Late in the evening, he stopped and made a little speech in his distinctive boozy raspy voice along these lines: “Now, those a you who can see mighta noticed that I’ve got the guitar here on my lap so I can get at it real easy with both hands. Those other guitar players hold ’em across their bellies in the most awkward stupid fuckin’ position imaginable. Dunno why they do that.” Hey, it was funny at the time, maybe you had to be there.
Anyhow, some years later Jeff got a radio show on CBC presenting his true musical love, vintage jazz, dating as far back as the twenties. It’s not my favorite music but I thought I’d give him a chance so I tuned in a couple of times. The problem was that he’d had that CBC Voice Regularization Surgery and sound like any other Regularized CBC Voice. I liked the music better than I thought I would, but it didn’t really sound like Jeff.
I’m going to have to pick up one of the records, for the memories.
Comment feed for ongoing:
From: Derek K. Miller (Mar 03 2008, at 21:28)
He was also a surprisingly good trumpet player in his trad-jazz band. From an repeat interview I heard with him on CBC today (from 2006), apparently the same genetic cancer-generating abnormality that caused his blindness as an infant significantly increased his chances of developing further cancers, which did happen in 2006, and eventually killed him. Too bad.
From: Scott (Mar 04 2008, at 00:33)
I hadn't heard this yet. I'm tempted to swear loudly. Actually, I have and will again. But I'll keep it out of your blog.
I could say so many things... it's not quite like when Stevie Ray died, but damn... how come it seems so many guys who can really *play* have to leave us so early?
About twenty years ago I felt so awesome when I figured out the intro to See The Light. It was so perfect... if I could play that I just *knew* I'd be a bad-ass on guitar, especially considering the difference in techniques.
When I finally got it down I didn't even tell anybody. It was one of those little personal moments, and I wanted to cherish it. Instead of bragging about it (which was tempting) I waited for an opportunity to whip it out and impress my friends. Which I did. And it was *good*.
The way he played physically got so much attention, I wonder how many people appreciate what an awesome musician he was. Was. Damn, it pisses me off just to write that. Ok, I guess I'm done now. Thanks for letting us know.
Godspeed, Jeff. We'll miss you.
From: Mark Baker (Mar 04 2008, at 09:10)
That story sounds very familiar. By "biggest bar in a small Ontario town", you wouldn't be talking about the Kee to Bala would you?
From: Andrew (Mar 05 2008, at 09:19)
Well that's a real shame about Jeff. Someone mentioned his name the other day and we (a bunch of guitar players) were talking about how incredible his playing and technique is/was.
In the eighties, I tried to get his style down too but just like SRV, it's not the notes you play but the feeling that your playing emotes. I think I'll have to go out buy one of his albums in honour of his passing.