Magazine article Guitar Player

Jeff Healey

Magazine article Guitar Player

Jeff Healey

Article excerpt

JEFF HEALEY MAY BE THE ONLY CAT AROUND who can play the prewar jazz of Louis Armstrong on the trumpet, and the heavy electric blues-rock of ZZ Top on the guitar. Norman Jeffrey Healey was born March 26, 1966 in Toronto, Canada, and lost his eyesight to disease at the age of one. He was playing guitar at three, but found it more comfortable to lay the guitar across his lap and fret over the fingerboard with his left hand in a manner that would lead to astoundingly fluid bends and vibrato. By 19, he was sharing stages with B.B. King, Albert Collins, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and had formed the Jeff Healey Band with bassist Joe Rockman and drummer Tom Stephens. Their 1988 platinum-selling debut, See the Light, contained the number-five hit "Angel Eyes," led to an appearance in and on the soundtrack of the Patrick Swayze flick Road House, and made Healey an overnight, if reluctant, sensation.

Four albums later, in 1996, the band went on hiatus, and then regrouped briefly in 2000 for a reunion album. Healy then tuned in to the trumpet, turned on his collection of 30,000-plus vintage records to host his My Kind of Jazz radio show in Toronto, and dropped out of the rock scene. It's Tight Like That [Stony Plain], with Healey's Jazz Wizards, features his fleet-fingered guitar licks, hot trumpet, and cool vocals on a selection of vintage classics.

You have phenomenal technique.

There are an awful lot of people with a hell of a lot of technique and no soul. …

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