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|B i o g r a p h y|
A rare form of cancer called retinoblastoma left Jeff Healey
blind in both eyes by the age of 1. But a mere two years later the
Ontario native had his first guitar and immediately began emulating his
blues heroes, such as John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton.
At 14 he was admitted to Etobicoke Collegiate and soon after began
playing in local jazz & blues coffee houses. He met drummer Tom Stephen and bassist Joe Rockman
one night in 1986 while at an open jam-session. Doubling as the band's
business manager, Stephen began sending out demos to every agent and
record producer in the land, but originally got nothing. In '82 they
released "Adrianna" as a single (only release) on their own indie
label, Forte Records - with what would be the title-track to their
debut as the 'b' side. It gained enough exposure to send Healey and
company on the road, more so than they already were. But the big deal
they sought still eluded them. They eventually scored a deal with BMG
in '87. Seeing something fresh on the scene, Arista also picked up the
While still in the Toronto studios working on their debut, an old demo was handed to Jimmy Iovine, who happened to be working on the upcoming ROADHOUSE BLUES movie, starring Patrick Swayze. The band was cast in the film as the bar band 'Double Deuce', as well as supplying the soundtrack. Their first album SEE THE LIGHT was released in 1988, produced by Iovine and Greg Labany. Backed by the title-track, it was widely considered by the critics to be one of the freshest albums on the scene in years. John Hiatt's "Confidence Man", the tender "Angel Eyes" - which peaked at #5 on The Billboard Charts & also co-written by Hiatt, "My Little Girl - and the ZZ Top cover "Blue Jean Blues" all made SEE THE LIGHT an instant hit, eventually selling 2 million copies.
Riding high, ROADHOUSE BLUES opened at the theatres across North
America less than a year later and further showed The Jeff Healey
Band's immense talent. "Blue Jean Blues", the title-track (a Doors
cover) helped prep the audience for their second lp, HELL TO PAY.
Produced by Ed Stasium, again the record was made up of covers of
Healey's influences, as well as songs which were directly spawned by
his love for the blues. Ex-Beatle George Harrison guested on thefirst
single, actually released before the album. "While My Guitar Gently
Weeps" was quickly followed by "I Think I Love You Too Much" - written
and featuring Mark Knopfler. By the time "Full Circle" was issued as
the third single, the album was already another million-seller, thanks
in part to their supporting role on Bonnie Raitt's world tour. Other
cameos on the record included Harrison's Traveling Wilburys-mate Jeff
Lynne of ELO, Paul Shaffer (Blues Brothers Band, SNL & David
Letterman) and Sass Jordan.
1992 saw FEEL THIS hit the stores, produced by Joe Hard, whose
resume included the likes of other blues/rockers Colin James & ZZ
Top. 'Meatier & ballsier' than the first two and capturing the
band's live presence more so - this unfortunately didn't exactly
translate as well in sales. Despite 6 singles over a year and a half,
it 'only' sold 100,000 copies. Gold in Canada, worthy of contract
dismissal in the US. They returned in '95 with COVER TO COVER. 14
tracks strong, it featured their interpretations of classics by The
Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and others. Three
singles were released, with the remake of Steeler's Wheel's "Stuck In
The Middle With You" cracking the Top 40 in Canada.
Healey then stepped back to work on his own label, Forte Records -
which was home to Amanda Marshall, Lilith and The Phantoms. Arista and
BMG both released 'greatest hits' packages before the end of the
decade. BMG's THE VERY BEST OF JEFF HEALEY in '98 and Arista's THE
MASTER SERIES shortly afterwards. It wasn't until 2000 that any new
material appeared. With the release of GET ME SOME it was
well-established Healey was in control of his own career and destiny -
releasing it on Forte. Again it consisted almost entirely of covers.
Unfortunately it went almost completely unnoticed by the critics and
the fans. Another pair of 'best of' packages were released shortly
thereafter. Jeff Healey has become world-renown for his no-nonsense
approach of fusing rock with his blues influences in a way no one else
has, or probably could. He's worked with a stunning array of musicians
spanning all corners of the musical gamut, including a tribute to The
Dorsey Brothers & one to Benny Goodman, Rube Bloom, Colin Bray and
a dozen or so others - and an all-new album is currently in the works.
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