Jeff Healey is a blues rock phenom that exploded onto the scene in the mid-late 80s and became a global sensation shortly thereafter. He is renowned by his peers and music fans alike as one of the greatest guitarists to ever live. Born in Toronto, Canada in 1966, he lost his sight at seven months due to retinoblastoma a form of cancer of the eyes. Jeff showed an early interest in music picking up the guitar at the age of three, while also developing a unique style of playing with the guitar flat on his lap. This technique of playing gave him a unique style and tone in his playing which contributed to his musical genius.
Jeff began playing the local Toronto music scene in bands at age 14, and by his late teens, he had already shared the stage with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert Collins. In 1985, the Jeff Healey band was formed and saw Jeff paying his dues playing all over Canada as a fledgling young artist. Jeff had the fortune of meeting B.B. King for the first time while on tour in Vancouver. After seeing Jeff play for the first time, B.B. stated “Jeff, you’re better than Stevie Ray Vaughan, better than Stanley Jordan and you’re better than B.B. King. Keep it up because you’re going all the way.” This glowing endorsement helped solidify Jeff in the press and was a catalyst to the buzz that was surrounding him as a young artist. An abbreviated version of the quote was on See the Light and it inspired me to pick up the release. It was the first CD I ever purchased.
Jeff went on to have a successful music career that spanned over 25 years and produced charting singles internationally, Grammy Nominations, Juno Awards, as well as Gold and Platinum sales awards. His legacy will continue for generations and he will be an inspiration for aspiring and established musicians alike.
Here are Blues Rock Review’s Top 10 Jeff Healey Songs.
10. “That’s What They Say”
“That’s What They Say” is a Jeff Healey penned song from the See the Light release that often goes overlooked as one of his top songs. For years it was a live staple either performed with a full band or acoustically and a great example of Jeff’s songwriting ability. His guitar work on this song is melodic and leaves the listener wanting to hear more as the song fades out.
9. “Evil and Here to Stay”
“Evil and Here to Stay” was written by Jeff Healey, Joe Rockman, and Tom Stephen. The song is a stand out track on the third JHB release, Feel This. This release saw the Jeff Healey Band evolve as a band by adding keys and background singers to the mix. “Evil and Here to Stay” is a thunderous track which was recently covered by John Mayall and features Alex Lifeson of Rush.
8. “Daze of the Night”
This is the lead track off Heal My Soul, the “lost” Jeff Healey album which was released on what would have been Jeff’s 50th Birthday. The release launched a year-long celebration of the life and legacy of Jeff. It is a blistering track which gives the listener a glimpse of the passion and intensity that was Jeff Healey. This track makes you wonder how great the next Jeff Healey release would have been.
“Hideaway” is Jeff’s version of the Freddie King, Sonny Thompson classic from the See the Light release. This song is a great example of the amazing technique and virtuosity that Jeff possessed as a guitar player while also paying homage to one of the “Three Kings”. This song was Grammy Nominated for “Best Rock Instrumental Performance.”
6. “I’m Tore Down”
“I’m Tore Down” another Sonny Thompson song, is the lead track from the Mess of Blues release. This marked Jeff’s return to the blues rock genre after an 8-year absence. Originally on the Roadhouse Soundtrack, this live version shows Jeff at the top of his game.
5. “As the Years Go Passing By”
“As the Years Go Passing By” written by Deadric Malone appears on Jeff’s Cover to Cover release and the latter As the Years Go Passing By live recording. This is Jeff doing slow blues at its finest and not only showcases his guitar playing, but it also showcases the great vocal ability of Jeff.
4. “Angel Eyes”
“Angel Eyes” is the John Hiatt, Fred Koller penned song that helped launch Jeff into international stardom as an artist peaking at #5 on the U.S. Billboard Charts. It’s a well written song and deserves all of its success. This song in conjunction with the Roadhouse movie was the perfect combination to catapult Jeff’s career to another level.
3. “Confidence Man”
“Confidence Man” is a John Hiatt song and the lead track to the See the Light album. For many, this was their first exposure to Jeff as an artist and guitar player. The song instantly lives up to the hype of the B.B. King quote that was on the cover of the release.
2. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is the George Harrison classic and appears on the Hell to Pay release. The song also features a guest appearance from George as well we Jeff Lynn of ELO. The fact that Jeff was able to get both artists on this track is a statement of the respect that Jeff’s peers had for him as a musician and artist. Healey’s guitar work is as timeless as the song itself and one of the best versions of this song.
1. “See the Light”
“See the Light” written by Jeff Healey is title track from Jeff’s first release. This is the quintessential Jeff Healey track and defines who Jeff is as a blues rock artist. While he played multiple instruments fluently in several genres, to most he will always be known best at one of the best guitar players in the world. “See the Light” was the last song on the release, and often the final song of Jeff’s concerts. “See the Light” is Jeff Healey.