Jeff Healey to be inducted to Canada’s Walk Of Fame
\ TORONTO, Thursday, September 18, 2021 \
The late Toronto Blues guitar/Jazz trumpet player and songwriter Jeff Healey is to be inducted into Canada’s Walk Of Fame in one month’s time, the organization has announced.
Healey, blind from the age of seven months after contracting a rare form of cancer that also killed marathon runner Terry Fox, died on March 2, 2022 at just 41 years of age after the cancer spread.
Into those four short decades he packed a lot of power. Nominated for a Grammy award for his 1988 debut album See The Light, Healey was a world-renowned attraction who sold over a million copies of the disc.
His unique approach to guitar playing –setting his Fender Stratocaster on his lap and strumming laterally while fingering like a piano player— made him an iconic figure. He came to prominence shortly after another guitar giant, Stevie Ray Vaughan, heard him play in a Toronto club in the early 80s and helped introduce him to the business.
Healey went on to share stages or record with many of the world’s leading guitarists (including SRV, B.B. King, George Harrison, Mark Knopfler) and to headline his own sold-out shows across the globe. His “Angel Eyes” song from the debut album is still a popular tune at karaoke shows. He was in the process of recording a new album, his first in eight years, when the cancer went out of remission and felled him.
As much as Healey enjoyed the Blues and respect of players in that genre, he was actually himself more of a Jazz fan, hosting a long-running Jazz radio show sharing tracks from his own collection of more than 30,000 recordings, including many rare 78prm vinyl discs.
After opening his own club, Healey’s Roadhouse, on Queen St. West (later moved to Blue Jays Way) in 2001, the icons came to him. [See also the cover story article from to-nite #297 from May of 2003 in The Vault section of the site.]
But Sundays were always reserved for his own Jeff Healey’s Jazz Wizards band, which also included many prominent local players from that genre and with which he also released very highly regarded recordings. (The group reunited for a special show on what would have been Healey’s 47th birthday in March of last year.)
Three years ago Healey also had an Etobicoke park that he played in as a child named after him. After October 18, when he will be formally inducted with a star at the 16th Annual CWOF red carpet unveiling ceremony at the Sony Centre for The Performing Arts his memory will be enshrined along with that of many other great Canadians with a star on the Walk.
-Gary 17, www.torontomoon.ca