Jeff Healey, 41, the bandleader and blind blues-rock guitarist known for playing his instrument laid across his lap, died March 2, 2008, at a Toronto hospital, following a lengthy battle with cancer.
Robbed of his sight as a baby due to a rare form of cancer, retino blastoma, Healey started to play guitar when he was 3 by holding the instrument unconventionally across his lap. He formed his first band at 17, and soon formed a trio named the Jeff Healey Band.
After his appearance in the movie “Road House,” Healey was signed to Arista Records, and in 1988, he released the Grammy-nominated album See the Light, which included a major hit single, “Angel Eyes.” He earned a Juno Award in 1990 as Entertainer of the Year.
Two more albums emerged on Arista, with lessening success as the ’90s passed. Various “best-of” and live packages were released, and he recorded two more rock albums, before turning to his real love, classic American jazz from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. By then, Healey was an internationally known star who played with dozens of musicians, including B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and recorded with George Harrison, Mark Knopfler and the late blues legend, Jimmy Rogers.
Healey also hosted several radio series, including “My Kinda Jazz” on CBC radio and a similar program on Jazz-FM in Toronto. A highlight of Healey’s broadcasts was the use of rare — and rarely heard — music from his 30,000-plus collection of 78-rpm records.
In the late 1990s, Healey recorded a series of albums of early jazz, playing trumpet as well as acoustic guitar in Jeff Healey’s Jazz Wizards. His latest album, Mess of Blues, his first blues-rock album in eight years, will be released April 22.
Despite his battle with cancer, he undertook frequent tours across Canada with both his blues-based band and his jazz group; he was set for a major tour in Germany and the U.K. and was to be a guest on the BBC’s Jools Holland Show in April.
Mike Smith, 64, lead singer and keyboard player in the Dave Clark Five, died of pneumonia Feb. 28, 2008, at a hospital outside of London, his agent, Margo Lewis, said.
Smith had been admitted to the hospital with a chest infection, a complication from a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed below the rib cage with limited use of his upper body after he fell from a fence at his home in Spain in 2003.
Smith wrote songs, sang and played keyboards for the Dave Clark Five,
one of many British rock acts whose music swept across the United States in the 1960s during the so-called British Invasion. The band, which broke up in 1970, was named after the drummer, Dave Clark.
While The Beatles are the best remembered British Invasion Band, the Dave Clark Five posed the strongest threat, commercially and critically, to The Fab Four’s pre-eminence at the time.
The Dave Clark Five claimed a string of U.S. hits, including “Because,’’ “Glad All Over,’’ and “I Like it Like That.’’ By 1966, the band had made 12 appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show,’’ then a record for any British group. The Dave Clark Five will be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame on March 10.
Drummer Buddy Miles, who played with Jimi Hendrix and sang in the 1980s claymation commercials featuring the California Raisins, died Feb. 26, 2008, in Austin, Texas, publicist Duane Lee said. <