Jeff Healey dies, age 41
March 3, 2008 3:44 AM   Subscribe

Jeff Healey, the blues and rock 'n roll singer best known for his 80s hit Angel Eyes (YT) has died of cancer at the age of 41.

He had a beautiful singing voice, and was also an accomplished jazz musician to boot.
posted by zardoz (58 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
.
posted by spoobnooble at 3:50 AM on March 3, 2008


.
posted by SpannerX at 3:50 AM on March 3, 2008


He was an amazing musician and human. He will be sorely missed.

.
posted by dbiedny at 3:51 AM on March 3, 2008


.

(Non-YT News Link.)
posted by grabbingsand at 3:53 AM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Awful news.
posted by danwalker at 4:00 AM on March 3, 2008


oops, thanks grabbingsand, I mixed up the links. And

.
posted by zardoz at 4:09 AM on March 3, 2008


didn't see that one coming.
posted by gman at 4:14 AM on March 3, 2008


aww, so young. Such a handsome guy, had no idea Jeff Healey was blind. Loved his voice and Angel Eyes is an excellent song.

He had a looong fight with cancer. And he survived it for 40+ years. That's a major accomplishment considering he had cancer as a baby. wow.

Healey lost his vision as a baby to a rare form of retinal cancer and he battled the disease throughout this life. And then In 2007, he underwent surgery to remove cancerous growths from his lungs. He had earlier had two sarcomas removed from his legs. Glad he had a wife and couple of kids as well as a musical career.

Condolences to his wife Cristie, daughter Rachel (13) and son Derek (3), as well as his father and step-mother, Bud and Rose Healey, and sisters Laura and Linda.

Now he has angel eyes.
posted by nickyskye at 4:15 AM on March 3, 2008


That's very sad.

.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:16 AM on March 3, 2008


Great musician.

.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:28 AM on March 3, 2008


say hi to stevie.
posted by Senator at 4:29 AM on March 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


I thought he was best known for his role in Road House.

.
posted by OmieWise at 4:30 AM on March 3, 2008


OmieWise beat me to it...god speed, Cody, house band leader in the roughest juke joint anywhere.
posted by mrmojoflying at 4:46 AM on March 3, 2008


.
posted by cupcakeninja at 4:50 AM on March 3, 2008


.

Thanks for that zardioz. Great life story I never knew about. The guy lived despite it all.
posted by skepticallypleased at 4:55 AM on March 3, 2008


.

My guitar gently weeps.
posted by jonp72 at 4:55 AM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


.
posted by SNACKeR at 4:55 AM on March 3, 2008


.
posted by benzo8 at 4:58 AM on March 3, 2008


.
posted by chillmost at 5:06 AM on March 3, 2008


.
posted by LN at 5:09 AM on March 3, 2008


Thirding the idea that Road House is Healey's claim to fame. I've never heard Angel Eyes until today, but I've seen Healy play the Double Deuce a dozen times. Despite a lousy, Sam Elliot-less third act, Road House is tremendous fun, and Healy added a lot of character to the film. Although he wasn't the best actor, his roadhouse band was excellent.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:27 AM on March 3, 2008


.
posted by nicolin at 5:29 AM on March 3, 2008


"Angel Eyes" was our song for me and my wife - that first album, See the Light, gonna have to blast that in the car on the way to work today.

Safe home, Jeff.

.
posted by kcds at 5:32 AM on March 3, 2008


Oh man, no, this is terrible news to wake up to! Both my parents have worked with Jeff in the past and they were nuts about him, he was a really fantastic person. So many people are going to be so broken hearted over his passing.

Rest in music, Jeff.
posted by zarah at 5:44 AM on March 3, 2008


Healey fucking rocked! A class act, a humble gentleman. He wore an easy smile that quickly turned bashful if praise (he always deserved) was given. Thanks for the music Jeff.

See the Light
posted by phoque at 5:44 AM on March 3, 2008


.
posted by mattbucher at 5:51 AM on March 3, 2008


Jeff, your music had beautiful heart and depth and brought a lot of warmth to my heart on many a drunken late night when someone would inevitably select your song on the juke box and cause me to immediately serenade whoever (or whatever) was in front of me. Thank you and rest in peace.

.
posted by any major dude at 5:58 AM on March 3, 2008


I think he also held the record for number of times he want Guitar Player Magazine's Best New Artist Award. I think it was 4 years in a row.

Great musician, seemed like a gentle soul.

.
posted by psmealey at 6:05 AM on March 3, 2008


This is tragic. I wailed "Nooooooooo!" when I read the story last night on The Globe and Mail site. I had no idea Healey had cancer.

What with Healey being Canadian, I seemed to often run into people who knew or met him, and no one ever had anything negative to say about his character.

A college classmate of mine went to high school with him. He didn't know him well, just as "the blind guy with the bad hair" and he was chagrined to see Jeff Healey on Letterman a few years later when he himself was still just a student and an unknown musician.

A guy I met off a dating system worked on one of his albums as a technician and described Healey as a great and talented guy and... as an extremely energetic person who constantly barged into studio equipment full tilt.

Another guy I met off a dating system had dated an ex-girlfriend of Healey's. This girl had told him how Healey was very into her perfumes and liked her to wear clothing with soft textures such as velvet. And that the reason she broke up with Healey was because he was an alcoholic. Not that he ever treated her anything but well, but she knew as a borderline alcoholic herself she could not be with one without slipping over the line into addiction herself. But he'd still call her sometimes, late at night when he'd had a few, and want to come over. She'd say, "Jeff, the guy I'm with MIGHT mind...."

A friend of mine, Mark, saw him at the Ex one year. They were playing some sort of game that involved shooting at ducks or bottles. Healey's date would aim his gun for him, and he was doing better than Mark was. Heh.
posted by orange swan at 6:08 AM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Aw, man. There's going to be a really, really sad edition of Randy's Vinyl Tap coming up soon.


.
posted by Shepherd at 6:12 AM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just in case anyone was wondering what that jam session sounds like today when Stevie finds out that Jeff just showed up...
posted by any major dude at 6:29 AM on March 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Just saw the headline, and it sucks.

.
posted by bwg at 6:34 AM on March 3, 2008


Apparently I'm in the minority on his singing voice... I didn't care much for it. However, I absolutely loved his guitar work. Sublime. First time I saw him play I was absolutely floored! He held the guitar on his lap and played southern style (like a lap steel guitar)!

My personal favorite (I guess I'm a sucker for this song) is "While My Guitar Gently Weeps".

Lastly, I knew of him before I saw the awesome "Road House". That movie is the perfect combination of a lot of things, and Jeff Healey was one of them.


.
posted by e40 at 6:37 AM on March 3, 2008


20+ years ago I knew Jeff. He was dating my girlfriend's best friend. I remember we were at a Canada Day party and some idiot was manning the fireworks. I was sitting right beside Jeff and we were talking and out of the corner of my eye I saw the fireworks pipe that had been stabbed into the ground--it sorta fell to a 45 degree angle and was pointed right at us.

A couple bursts shot out of it and everyone ducked and screamed. Everyone except Jeff who just kept talking. The flames missed his head by just a couple inches and collectively the crowd instantly became silent. Jeff stopped mid-sentence and leaned to me and ask, "What just happened?" I said, "A ball of flame just missed your head." Jeff paused a second and said, "So... I could have been blinded," and everyone burst out laughing.

RIP.
posted by dobbs at 6:56 AM on March 3, 2008 [14 favorites]


.
posted by mike3k at 7:17 AM on March 3, 2008


I was lucky enough to see him perform live several times over the years. I had no idea he'd been battling cancer all this time. A great talent and an incredible example of rising above adversity.
posted by rocket88 at 7:22 AM on March 3, 2008


.
posted by Lucy2Times at 7:23 AM on March 3, 2008


It always kind of bothered me that Healey's biggest hit should be called "Angel Eyes," (from the album "See the Light," no less) but yeah. Shitty news.

There was a news item on the CBC a few years ago, along the lines of "Hey, what's Jeff Healey up to these days?" Turns out he was an avid collector of jazz records. He had a huge room that rivalled the CBC's own record vault, with everything filed meticulously and, of course, labeled in braille.

"Angel Eyes," incidentally, was recently covered by one of the competitors of Australian Idol. It was a huge hit.

.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:41 AM on March 3, 2008


He had a huge room that rivalled the CBC's own record vault, with everything filed meticulously and, of course, labeled in braille.

He could identify his favorite records by feeling the grooves in the vinyl.
posted by dobbs at 8:08 AM on March 3, 2008


.
posted by Dreama at 8:40 AM on March 3, 2008


When I was in high school there was a poem published in the literary magazine (Mirage!) by this girl expressing her love for New Kids On The Block. The final lines of the first stanza were:
They are so much better
Than the Jeff Healey Band
I think the author probably just used Jeff Healy because it rhymed ("best in the land"? "favorite band"? "adrenal gland"? God, I wish I could remember.) I was not a fan, particularly, of Jeff Healey, then or now, but I was still pretty much incensed, in the way that only 16 year old boys can be.

"But that guy can really PLAY! And he's BLIND!"

Anyway, Mr. Healey, thanks for being flawlessly defendable by a sophomore me.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:42 AM on March 3, 2008



posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:29 AM on March 3, 2008


Jeff Healey and SRV are two of the main reasons I play blues guitar as a hobby.

.
posted by mrbill at 9:32 AM on March 3, 2008


any major dude's yt link gave me chills. thanks
posted by jmccw at 9:48 AM on March 3, 2008


saw him in the early 90s in London. massive talent. sadly missed.

.
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 9:54 AM on March 3, 2008


Just a class act all around. Here's another feature on him with a bit more detail.
posted by loiseau at 11:33 AM on March 3, 2008


This sucks. I also had no idea that the cancer that blinded him was still a large presence in his life and would end up killing him.

The only time I caught him live was shortly after 9/11, when a couple of friends of mine came up from Detroit for a carousing weekend they badly needed. We went to Healey's on Bathurst (before he moved to Jeff Healey's Roadhouse on Blue Jay Way) to catch a few bands who I no longer remember. What I do remember was Jeff moving easily on stage from the crowd (stopping to greet just about everyone on the way) to jam at the end of the night. Just cool and comfortable and easy and talented. It felt a lot like hanging out in someone's living room.
posted by maudlin at 11:35 AM on March 3, 2008


What a player - serious tasty chops, magnificent tone. I brought his first two CDs in to work today and blew my ears out. R.I.P. Jeff Healey, your star was brief but it did shine bright.
posted by Ber at 12:55 PM on March 3, 2008


.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:45 PM on March 3, 2008


Very sad. He was supposed to headline the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival in Fredericton, New Brunswick this year. I was looking forward to seeing him play and hopefully talking to him again.
posted by ChazB at 2:04 PM on March 3, 2008


Damn. On saturday I sang along with Angel Eyes on the radio, and now I hear he's dead?

That song was a hit while I was in college and to this day reminds me of a dance I went to and the beautiful girl who I danced with :(

.
posted by UseyurBrain at 3:53 PM on March 3, 2008


Sad.
posted by ryanhealy at 7:07 PM on March 3, 2008


By all reports a great human being and thus a great loss.

.
posted by pantagrool at 8:01 PM on March 3, 2008


Jeff had been playing the hotel near my work the last few Montreal Jazz fests... playing trumpet of all instruments. I tried getting in two years ago but it was packed solid at 5pm for a 10pm show. Guess I'll just have to close my eyes and imagine being there now.
posted by furtive at 8:11 PM on March 3, 2008


As It Happens has a pretty great interview with a bandmate, it's at the end of part 1.
posted by Chuckles at 9:41 PM on March 3, 2008


I think that Angel Eyes might have been the worst song he ever recorded.

And it was a great song.

.
posted by CuJoe at 2:57 AM on March 4, 2008


41? He was a man who could play the guitar.

.
posted by ersatz at 1:43 PM on March 4, 2008


nickyskye writes "Such a handsome guy, had no idea Jeff Healey was blind. Loved his voice and Angel Eyes is an excellent song.

"He had a looong fight with cancer. And he survived it for 40+ years. That's a major accomplishment considering he had cancer as a baby. wow.

"
Healey lost his vision as a baby to a rare form of retinal cancer and he battled the disease throughout this life. And then In 2007, he underwent surgery to remove cancerous growths from his lungs. He had earlier had two sarcomas removed from his legs. Glad he had a wife and couple of kids as well as a musical career."

CBC talked about this quite a bit, apparently his cancer is a genetic thing and his sonn has the condition. His son gets his eyes checked like every two weeks.
posted by Mitheral at 9:28 PM on March 6, 2008


« Older James Hewitt Jr   |   Watch those feet! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments