“I’m not alone…sitting right there.
How come I get the feeling you’d vanish into the air?
I love you more than anybody else, babe.
Can’t you tell I’m an easy touch?
Baby, baby…I think I love you too much.”
Jeff Healey was a true musical visionary, changing the way the guitar can be played in the context of blues, rock and jazz. Discovered in his native Toronto, Healey developed a unique style all his own. Blind from an early age, his technique grew from having the guitar lying in his lap, as opposed to having it pulled close to the body. His left hand danced across the finger board of the guitar from above, with lightning fast lead lines showcasing his mastery of the instrument. The fact that his vocals were as strong as his guitar skills only added to his appeal. With sidemen Joe Rockman and Tom Stephen, he formed the Jeff Healey Band. The group debuted with the 1988 hit “See the Light”. It was produced in coordination with the film “Road House”, which also helped to expose Healey to a wide audience as he had a prominent role. The album and film debuted the single ‘Angel Eyes’, penned especially for the project by John Hiatt. That single rose to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Healey instant recognition both by the public and his fellow musicians.
On his next two releases, “Hell to Pay” and “Feel This”, Healey continued the trend set by his debut. Superstar guitarists and songwriters lined up to work with the young virtuoso, including Tom Petty and George Harrison. “Hell to Pay” also featured a new Mark Knopfler composition, ‘I Think I Love You Too Much’. The song was played by Dire Straits in concert, but did not see official release. The 1990 recording of this version features a prominent vocal and guitar performance from Healey himself, with cameo guitar runs from Knopfler. The quality of the song only strengthens the fact that Healey was held in the highest regard by some of the top names in blues and rock.
Jeff Healey continued to tour and record throughout the nineties, ending his affiliation with Arista Records after the 1995 release “Cover to Cover”, a stellar release featuring cover versions of blues and rock rarities. Using his amazing range on the guitar as a springboard, Healey moved towards more traditional jazz performances in the following decade. He opened a club in Toronto, ala Buddy Guy, and released several independent albums based in his new sound. His tragic passing in 2008, from cancer, left a great hole in the world of music. Very rarely do artists come along who truly revolutionize their instrument. Jeff Healey accomplished this, adding a new chapter to the story of the blues.