Friday, July 04, 2008

Another Inmate From The Guitar Gulag

In a sad follow up to our regular series on guitarists worth a damn begun by Silky with his revealing post on Django (does one need further reason to see Woody Allen's rare late era gem Sweet and Lowdown?), I would like to mention the passing of Jeff Healey.

The poor bugger developed retinoblastoma at age 1 which thieved his eyesight. Jeff reckoned because of this he was drawn to music and guitar playing, playing the guitar laid flat on his lap and pressing directly down on the fretboard rather than gripping the neck from behind (now, on another matter, there is often-used photo of an old bluesman sitting on a chair with his hand placed on the front of the fretboard and I have been looking for a copy of this and the name of the player for some time… apparently no one is sure if this is really how he played the guitar or just what he did in the photo… a free copy of 8 Legs To Hold You for anyone who can help me out).

Jeff deserves mention on the blog for the large impact his version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, and particularly the arpeggiated riff he played, had on me and my guitar playing buddies… it became a standard when a guitar was picked as much as the intro to Sweet Child O' Mine, Back in Black and Sunshine Of Your Love (we never did really play Stairway to Heaven). Oddly this didn't translate in to curiosity about any of his original music.

Anyway, apparently the cancer never really gave him a rest and he died from it at 41 having had several operations, and plenty of treatment, for it throughout his life… which makes me think he must have been quite young when While My Guitar Gently Weeps came out.


Blogger Unrelenting Tedium said...

I have answered my own was Charlie Patton...the photo in question is here...

4/7/08 13:45  
Blogger silky-D said...

you so don't get a free cd.
Vale Jeff, though. All I remember was the blindness and te George Harrison cover, but as has been pointed out already that's plenty to be leaving behind.

4/7/08 14:02  
Blogger Paddy said...

Apparently Healey was 24 when Gently Weeps was released. Quite young indeed.I dialed it up on YouTube and listened to it for what must have been the first time in fifteen years. It's a splendid solo.

Even though he was blind of course I dearly wish he would have at least pretended to look down at his fretboard at some stage during the video.

8/7/08 11:16  
Blogger Unrelenting Tedium said...

It certainly leaves for dead the clapton efforts on the original. Am I alone in thinking clapton went through a fairly ordinary guitar playing patch post-cream through most of the 70s? Some would argue he is still in it but I think his playing, if not his song writing and production, picked up hugely through the 80s and 90s. Why didn't Harrison play the fills and solo himself? He couldn't have done a more pedestrian job than slowhand.

8/7/08 11:56  

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