Canadian rock and jazz musician Jeff Healey has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 41 years old.
Born Norman Jeffery Healey on March 25, 1966 in Toronto, Healey lost his eyesight to retinal cancer at one years old.
At the age of three, Healey began to play the guitar, developing his unique style of playing the instrument on his lap. As leader of the rock group Jeff Healey Band, he famously appeared in the cult Patrick Swayze film Road House. Following the release of the film, the band landed a recording contract with Arista Records.
During their major label recording career, the band produced released a number of international hits like “Angel Eyes,” “How Long Can a Man Be Strong,” “Cruel Little Number” and a cover of the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The Band was nominated for a Grammy and won a Juno Award.
In his final years, Healey had garnered acclaim as a jazz musician, leading the group the Jazz Wizards (read our 2004 interview with Healey), showcasing his talent with the trumpet, drums and guitar. He performed with the group as four weeks before his death.
Over the past few years, Healey has been undergoing cancer treatments, including operations to remove tumours in his leg and lungs. He was hospitalized the week before his death for treatment of advanced lung cancer.
Healey is survived by his wife Christie and two children, 13-year-old daughter Rachel and 3-year-old son Derek.