After years of efforts by fans, friends and family, Jeff Healey was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame on Saturday October 18th, 2014, as a recipient of the Cineplex Legends Award.
It was an exciting and emotionally charged day for everyone involved.
The ceremony began with a running of the gauntlet known as the ‘yellow carpet’. There were fans, photographs, interviews and more photographs… all on the way to unveiling the ceremonial plaque.
In attendance was Jeff’s wife Cristie, his father Bud and step-mother Rose, his sister Laura, his beloved children, Rachel and Derek (who unveiled the plaque together) and myself.
After the unveiling, the plaque was signed by Jeff’s family and later auctioned off for charity.
At the show itself (which will be televised in Canada December 19th, on The Global Network…) we were treated to a wonderful video presentation that covered Jeff’s life, career and his charitable works. The video also featured heartfelt testimonials from the likes of Ian Gillan, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, Paul Schafer, Randy Bachman and more…
After which there was a performance by an epic band that was assembled specifically for a fantastic musical tribute to Jeff – Music director Orin Isaacs, Sean Jones (vocals) Sekou Lumumba (drums), Calvin Beal (bass), Justin Abedin (guitar) and Jimmy Bowskill (lead guitar & background vocals).
They played a soulful rendition of ‘Angel Eyes‘, then tore headfirst into ‘See The Light‘, guitarist Jimmy Bowskill (who first played guitar with Jeff at the tender age of 10) blazing for all he was worth with Sean putting an R&B spin on the proceedings. It absolutely smoked!
Later that night, I had the pleasure of speaking to Sean Jones to thank him for the tremendous job he and the other musicians had done. He told me that the band had been watching the video presentation for the first time as they were preparing to go on stage and they were all fighting to keep it together…
After the performance, Canadian music icon, Tom Cochrane presented Jeff’s award which was accepted by Cristie and Jeff’s father, Bud. Tom is truly a legendary songwriter, performer, tireless charitable activist… but he is also one of the genuinely sweetest human beings on the planet.
We were absolutely thrilled when we found out that he would be presenting Jeff’s Cineplex Legends Award. Tom was a dear friend of Jeff’s and actually requested Jeff be the presenter at the 2003 JUNO Awards where he gave a speech to commemorate Tom’s induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
Cristie and Bud gave emotional speeches that brought many in the audience to tears, before being whisked away for more interviews…
After the awards presentation, there was a charity gala dinner organized by Canada’s Walk of Fame. It was there that legendary actor/director Peter Fonda (who presented the award for The Band) told our own Pat Rush that he was a big fan…
“Well, I went over to Peter Fonda and introduced myself. Hi I’m Pat Rush, guitarist with Jeff Healey for 12 years. He shook my hand and said ‘Oh that’s cool, I loved Jeff and I’ll bet it was amazing to watch him play every night when you were on stage with him!’ I said yes it was! He said, ‘What an amazing style.’ P.F. was very nice friendly and funny.” – Pat Rush
(…at an event the night before, fellow inductee, actor Ryan Reynolds was gracious enough to stop by and share with us a nice little story of meeting Jeff when he was only 13 years old…)
…and finally, we’d like to close off with some words from Cristie…
“The Canada’s Walk of Fame weekend was incredible for our entire family and I have to say… it very much exceeded even our biggest expectations. The show was absolutely fantastic.
The way Jeff’s story was presented through the video presentation was more than we could have hoped for. The musical tribute to Jeff was absolutely outstanding! Singer Sean Jones was a fantastic choice, as well as Jimmy and everyone involved.
This event has made a huge impact in the lives of Jeff’s children, as well as ours… I can’t even begin to say what this has meant to Jeff’s dad. It was an extremely emotional time for all of us but so worth it!” – Cristie Healey
The entire weekend was wonderful and we were all thrilled and so proud that Jeff was being publicly recognized in this way…
Here’s a couple of great interviews done with Jeff’s wife Cristie in the days leading up to the ceremony:
The first is a terrific interview on CBC TV…
CBC TV interview with Cristie Healey
…and the second in an interview Cristie did with Samaratinmag’s Karen Bliss…
Samaratinmag interview with Cristie Healey
…and be sure to tune in to Global TV to see the show on December 19th!
Would love to be able to watch the show on Dec. 19th, however being in Miami, Fl. I think I’m out of luck. Any idea how I might be able to get that down here?
Hey Mario! Welcome! Not entirely sure about viewers outside of Canada yet, but we are looking into it and will have more info here as soon as we know more. …Though I imagine there will likely be some online viewing option. Stay tuned… ~Rog
This a huge honor for a man with such amazing,under rated talent.
The talent and passion that Jeff had was simply something to behold.
He adapted to a new unique way of playing guitar using all 5 fingers on his hand at any given time and playing the guitar flat across his lap and being blind since 8 months old on top of his already amazing talent.
There’s no one like Jeff,no one will ever replace him and what he did all these years to captivate all his fans in awe!
I’ve literally grown up with Jeff and his music since I was just 6 yrs old.
Even though I never met him or knew him personally he’ll always be a huge part of me,for inspiration as like Jeff I’ve dealt with my own physical disability but I never gave up on playing music I loved.
So congrats to Jeff and his family for accepting this award on his behalf.
Truly deserving of being a star on Canada’s Walk Of Fame!
Wish he could be with us today to share this with everyone!
He’d really appreciate all of this.
I do miss him a lot but his music and talent will always be apart of me till the end….Thanks Jeff for being an inspiration to me and for giving me (and your fans) the gift of your music and amazing talents…You will always be missed but never forgotten.
To have a final quote that I came up with myself in honor of Jeff….
“May your guitar gently weep on in our hearts forever!”
I have only had the privilege of watching Jeff on tv and listening to him on the stereo. He poured his heart and soul into his music. That was obvious. As a lover of Blues I have been a fan of his for yrs. I have talked about him to my children. This honour is much deserved.
I saw Jeff play in the late 80s in Cleveland,Ohio USA I was 14. it was a concert club. it was the best concert I have ever seen to date. I listen to Jeff ever since. it was before Road House came out. Nobody could play like Jeff. When I am down, I pop in one of his CDs and crank it up. The songs bring happiness to me. I believe Jeff is up in Heaven playing for God. Jeff will live on through his music. Thanks Jeff.
WE LOVE YOU JEFF HEALEY!!! Fans from Poland Warsaw We remember fantastic duet Jeff Healey and Mark Knopfler song – I think i love you too much.
Wonderful to hear of Jeff Healey’s induction. I’ve never seen a musician with more musical genius, and yet when his wife talks about him, she speaks a little about his music and a lot more about Healey as a person and family man.
God Bless you Jeff, Cristie, Rachel, and Derek. Jeff may be gone but his music and spirit live on. It’s truly touching to read of your efforts to preserve his legacy.
Rest in Blues, Jeff
Can’t say, rest in peace as I know you’re up there jamming with your good friend Stevie Ray and so many other guitar heros, including Jeff himself.
One of the very best to ever play the guitar. Jeff is dearly missed by all.
We love you Jeff!
I have to say, after burying my 20 month old daughter & only child 6yrs ago, learning to play the guitar has been one of my saving graces. The only other thing that, has kept me sane is my dogs.
But music…music is therapeutic. It always has been for me. I can only imagine what kind of personal impact it made on Jeff’s life and if it happened to be anything like it’s impacted mine.
I’ve always loved music and wanted to learn to play the guitar since I was about 8 yrs old. It took me another 30 yrs but I’m finally learning to play and I absolutely love it.
Play one for my baby girl, Jeff. Her name is Kenzie and she’s the most beautiful angel up there with the most beautiful curly brown hair like her Daddy’s.
Even before I bought my first guitar, I told myself that I won’t ever quit if I buy this. No matter what. If it takes 10 yrs to learn to play 1 song, so be it. I look up to Jeff and have so much respect for him. If I ever feel like I cant do it, I’ll think of Jeff and remind myself that I can do it too. That the only thing holding me back is me.
Rest in Blues, Jeff. We love and miss you, Brother. Play your song ‘Angel Eyes’ for my baby girl. I know she’ll absolutely love it.