5 long years since Jeff’s passing. You are missed, Brother Jeff…..
Let’s see, 1984-85 was the time period that I played bass with Jeff….. the band was a four piece with Rob Quail and I, Jeff and a revolving cast of drummers (They didn’t all spontaneously combust like in Spinal Tap, but well maybe a few did!!) I met Jeff , Rob Quail and Corey Mihailiuk at a club called Branko’s in Lansdowne/Bloor area of Toronto. I played a regular Sunday night jam with Toney “Wild T” Springer, Randy Cooke (drums) and Mackie Langford (keyboards) for a couple of years there and Jeff , Rob and Corey became fast friends of ours and regular jammers…..
It took no time at all for Jeff to have absorbed all the stuff we played and he and Toney together could always take anything we did to another level. While I’m writing this I would like to clarify something that is a little ambiguous out there for all the completists…….
The first infamous encounter with Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jeff ……..
Here’s what I remember…. I was a lunatic for Albert Collins and had seen his band without him twice at Albert’s Hall in 1980 (AC Reed and the Spark Plugs) and twice more after that before we went to see him that week in ’85. Can’t remember everyone that was there but we went on the Monday night myself, Corey and Jeff, Maybe a few other folks? Corey pursued Albert from the time we got there to a) get Albert to let Jeff sit in or b) come over and meet Jeff….pretty sure this was unsuccessful ’til the end of the second set….Albert agreed to come over and meet Jeff and then offered to let Jeff play the first three songs with the band with the stipulation being that when Albert came out for the big showbiz part that he would be done…..Jeff blew the whole band away (I can still see Johnnie B Gaydon‘s (THE bass player, I most wanted to play like!!) shocked face at seeing the way Jeff was playing!!), Albert came down a little early and had his second guitar player sit out the last set…at the end of the night Albert came over to tell us that Stevie Ray Vaughan was going to sit in on Saturday night and he would like to introduce them and have all three of them play together….I know I didn’t get to the Saturday SRV thing (I worked a double shift and fell asleep until 4AM!!) but I know that it happened (Rob was there) and we suddenly had a way easier time finding gigs as the next day’s paper had a picture of all three of them playing together!
Speaking of Brother Jeff, Corey and Rob Quail…. I know you guys were there but I don’t think you were in the room when this happened (downstairs waiting for the show to start, maybe?)…. as you know Jeff loved to play cards…….God knows my Mom and Jeff were a dangerous pair of Euchre partners…..although I have to admit there was always a lingering thought that Jeff was feeling up the bumps on my cards before I got them (lol)
So we’re the opening act for Albert Collins at Albert’s Hall…we played our set and were back upstairs in the dressing room…chatting with Albert, his band goes downstairs to start their first set of the night….Albert stays upstairs with Jeff and I (pretty sure it was just the three of us at that point)….
Don’t know how the subject comes up but Albert finds out that Jeff likes to play cards and I tell Albert about how Jeff and my mother never seem to lose when we all play. So Albert is curious and gets Jeff to pull out the cards (meanwhile his band is downstairs and have started the first tune!!) Albert’s got the 150 foot guitar cord that goes through the bar and up the stairs to the dressing room. He has Tele strapped on and sits down at the table with Jeff and I…..
“Deal the cards Brother Jeff,” He says sounding a little like one of those 3 card monty guys from the movies. Then he tears into a five second classic Albert Collins lick (The band is still playing downstairs!!) Jeff shuffles the cards and deals (black jack). Albert wins the first hand and cracks to Jeff, “I thought you were good at this, Deal the cards again Brother Jeff!!” Albert proceeds to beat Jeff repeatedly while simultaneously cheering him on, goading him and chiming in licks with his band from the dressing room. After the first song ends and the second one begins, one of the guys working for Albert (Road Manager, probably) sticks his head in the door…..”everything Ok?” “Sure thing,” says Albert, “Jeff’s just teaching me how to play cards!” Road Manager guy smiles and closes the door again. “Deal the cards again, Brother Jeff”
This went on for a couple of tunes longer than was supposed to happen on a typical Albert Collins show…..usually three tunes before the man of the hour comes down to join the band but Road Manager had to come up twice more before Albert reluctantly left the card table…..not sure if Jeff won a hand in that sitting but I know from the grin on his face that he had a great time.
There are some real heavy hitters at that card table now (Jeff, Stevie, Albert, Louie, etc). All are missed, none are forgotten……
“BTW, whose deal is it? Don’t forget to turn the lights out when your done, and please thank God for letting me be in the room for that one, it meant a lot to be there!!”
My Most Sincere Condolences to Cristie and the whole Healey family.
Terry Murphy is currently assembling and re-mastering a number of recordings for Scott “Professor Piano” Cushnie to be released on Scott’s label, Prof Records He still plays bass, guitar and dobro and has plans to release a couple of CD’s of his own work soon.