This week's LBC topic was suggested by Lin.
It has always amazed me how resilient the human spirit can be. History is packed with famous, successful people who cannot see - from Helen Keller to Stevie Wonder. Because of the value I place on music in my life, it will come as no surprise I've focused this little ditty on a musician. Rather than a better known talent like Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles I'll simply introduce all y'all to my all-time favorite guitarist - Jeff Healey from Toronto, Canada. If you've seen the Patrick Swayze movie Roadhouse you've seen and heard Jeff Healey. Roadhouse was what I call a popcorn movie - good, mindless fun that I went to see with my late wife Lynn - a huge Swayze fan. By the time the movie ended we were both Jeff Healey fans.
Jeff was more than a guitarist - he was an accomplished jazz trumpeter as well.
From his website:
Canadian music icon, Jeff Healey, was born in Toronto on March 25, 1966. Blind from early childhood due to retinoblastoma (a rare form of eye cancer), Jeff Healey’s guitar playing virtuosity and soulful voice saw him rise to prominence in the entertainment world in the late 1980s and ‘90s selling millions of albums worldwide.
Getting his first guitar at the age of three, he developed a unique style of playing. Placing the guitar flat on his lap and playing it like a lap steel, with his hands over the fret board, gave him the flexibility of fretting with all five fingers and the power of pulling notes with the strength of his whole hand.
For over two decades, Jeff enjoyed a successful music career that spanned rock, blues and traditional jazz. Grammy nominee and Juno award winner, he was a radio personality, a jazz historian and world famous record collector (owning a collection of 1920’s and ‘30’s jazz 78s that would ultimately top out at over 30,000 records).
And what did his contemporaries think of him? Stevie Ray Vaughn, upon meeting Jeff and hearing him play wanted to perform with him. This is the result -
As Swayze said to Jeff in Roadhouse - "Not bad for a blind white boy". Jeff passed away from cancer at 41 in 2008. RIP my man. I need to crank up the volume on my system for a while.