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Photo by Margaret Malandru
Jeff Healey literally roared onto the album charts with his band’s 1988 debut, See the Light, a blues-rock manifesto built around his unique and conflagrant playing. Now Premier Guitar readers get an exclusive opportunity to experience Healey at his peak with this advance album stream of the rediscovered “lost recordings” on Heal My Soul, set for release on March 25—which would’ve been the guitarist’s 50th birthday.
Blinded by cancer shortly after his birth, the Toronto native developed his own approach to guitar, playing a conventional 6-string on his lap by using his left hand to press and bend strings that he sent singing through a stack of Marshall amps.
As the genre’s commercial fortunes dwindled in the ’90s, Healey took two musical paths—performing both the blues-rock that was his mainstream calling card with his Jeff Healey Band and recording and touring with Jeff Healey’s Jazz Wizards, whose music was gleaned from the classic blues and jazz 78s he collected and played on his weekly radio show on Toronto’s CIUT-FM.
Healey died on March 2, 2008, after a three-year battle with cancer, during which he continued to gig and record. Although posthumous live releases emerged, Heal My Soul is the first full-fledged studio release since Healey’s death. The new album’s dozen songs display Healey’s sheer firepower and range, from the incendiary opener “Daze of the Night” to the acoustic ballad “Baby Blue” to a cover of Richard Thompson’s poetic, lovelorn, “I Misunderstood.”