Turntable Talk – One Hit Wonders – Angel Eyes by Jeff Healey and The Jeff Healey Band

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Jeff Healey (full name Norman Jeffrey Healey) (b. 3/25/66 – d. 3/2/08) was a Canadian blues, rock and jazz singer, guitarist, and songwriter per wikipedia. Jeff and The Jeff Healey Band first came to my attention in the 1989 blockbuster movie, “Road House,” starring Patrick Swayze, Kelly Lynch, Sam Elliott, and Ben Gazzara. In Road House, Jeff’s band is the house band at the place where much of the movie is set. As soon as I heard, “Angel Eyes,” I was sold and immediately went out and bought the album. I admit I didn’t listen to the album much and think I ended up trading it at the used record store for something else, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love the song and don’t still love it. The other two members of the band are bassist, Joe Rockman and drummer, Tom Stephen.

Angel Eyes is the fifth song on the debut album of The Jeff Healey Band, “See The Light,” released in September 1988. John Hiatt, who co-wrote the song with Fred Koller, finally released his own version of the song on his 1994 live album, “Hiatt Comes Alive at Budokan?” the title being two parodies of Peter Frampton’s, “Frampton Comes Alive” and Cheap Trick’s, “Live at Budokan.” (source, wikipedia)

Songfacts says that “Angel Eyes”

stands as Jeff Healey’s only Billboard Top-40 hit; however, considering what a unique character he was, it seems most unfair to dismiss him as a one-hit wonder. Amongst many other things, he was much bigger on the Canada Singles chart; he picked up Juno Awards, got an Independent Music Award for Best Blues Album, and played alongside such talent as Dire Straits, Stevie Ray Vaughan, BB King, ZZ Top, and Eric Clapton.

The director of Road House gave Jeff a lot of screen time. After the chicken wire, the most noticeable aspect besides the wonderful melody and lyrics of the songs was the way that Jeff played his guitar; flat like a steel guitar.

Also, per wiki Jeff is notable as one of the few guitarists who plays with his instrument strung upside-down. He plays left-handed, but the instrument is strung upside-down with the high E on the top. This unusual arrangement of the strings gives his playing a unique sound, because he bends the strings by pulling them downwards rather than upwards, the customary approach. Others who have bent strings in this direction include Doyle Bramhall II, Albert King, Eric Gales, Otis Rush, Barbara Lynn, and Coco Montoya.

He played that way reportedly because he was blind. Reading about his childhood, I learned that Jeff was adopted as an infant; when he was less than a year old he had to have his eyes surgically removed due to retinoblastoma. Listening to and reading interviews with him, he never considered his blindness as a limiting factor to his success as a human being or as a musician.

In 2006, Jeff had cancerous tumors removed from his legs. In 2007, he had cancerous tumors removed from his lungs. (Makes me wonder if he lived near a toxic landfill!) Unfortunately, at the age of only 41, Jeff passed away on March 2, 2008.

If you’d like to learn more about Jeff Healey, there is a short documentary here (beware there are some reading glitches in it.)

Top image link.

First published on Dave’s blog.

28 Comments Add yours

  1. ghostmmnc says:

    This is one of my favorite songs. I’ve read a bit about his life and career in music. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Very cool, Barbara. It was love at first listen for me. So horribly sad he had to have his eyes removed at 8 months old! I wonder what he would remember about seeing as he got older.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. CARAMEL says:

    I am so glad you introduced me to him. That last paragraph before the video broke my heart.

    Like

    1. msjadeli says:

      It is heartrending that someone who brought such joy to the world would go through so many travails 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As I also just commented on Dave’s blog, this is a great pick. At the time the album came out, I taped it on MC. One of my favorites then was “My Little Girl” – still love it! I’ve pulled up the album in Apple Music and I’m currently listening to it – must be the first time in like 30 years or so!

    Jeff Healey was an amazing guitarist. I certainly don’t want to romanticize blindness, but there’s just some about blind musicians. Another outstanding guitarist coming to mind in this regard is Jose Feliciano. Or think about Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder!

    Ironically or perhaps sadly, I didn’t remember “Angel Eyes”. I’m glad it at least gave him one significant hit on the mainstream US chart Billboard Hot 100.

    As Dave rightly noted, Healey nicely illustrates that the “one-hit wonder” can be relative. In his homeland Canada, Healey certainly had more than one one top 40 hit. And, looking at Wikipedia chart, “Angel Eyes” wasn’t his biggest there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Christian I appreciate your comment and glad you know of him even if you didn’t remember Angel Eyes. You probably didn’t see “Road House” did you? Did you listen to the 1994 John Hiatt version? That’s also excellent!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nope, I didn’t watch the movie. I’ve really come to dig John Hiatt, so will definitely check out his version.

        When it comes to John Hiatt, usually, it’s the other way around. He writes songs that are covered by others. Some of his covers became hits, unlike the originals.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          The link is in the post to Hiatt’s version and Healey’s version became the hit, then he finally recorded it later but not sure if it made the charts. I’d like to hear the rest of that live Hiatt album also!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thanks, Lisa, Hiatt’s version sounds great. I just found that live album in Apple Music. I’m definitely going to check it out!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. msjadeli says:

              You’re welcome and very cool, Christian. If you do a review on it, please let me know.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Lisa, I wanted to let you know I’ve been listening to that John Hiatt live album – so good! There literally isn’t a filler on here and many favorites like “Have a Little Faith in Me”, “Thing Called Love” (though nobody beats “my Bonnie”!😀), “Perfectly Good Guitar”, “Feels Like Rain”, “Slow Turning” and, of course, “Angel Eyes”.

                John Hiatt is a true treasure trove. I definitely need to dig deeper into his catalog – with 20-plus albums, it’s a formidable undertaking!😀

                Liked by 1 person

                1. msjadeli says:

                  Christian thanks for the lowdown on Mr. Hiatt. Time to give it a listen 🙂

                  Like

  4. This is such a great song! Despite the age of the song it is still a favorite slow dance at weddings and parties. It still holds up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Keith it is so good to know it’s still being played at weddings and parties 🙂 Thanks for reading and your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. memadtwo says:

    I knew I recognized that song…John Haitt.
    I don’t think of Jeff Healey as a one hit wonder at all. He was around for awhile. Maybe not top 10, but around. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I only remember that song from Road House, but it sounds like he was a much bigger presence in Canada (and New York!) Keith said they’re still playing this song at weddings and parties to slow dance to so that makes me smile.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. memadtwo says:

        I’ve been listening to a lot of John Hiatt lately so that’s why he’s on my mind.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          Hiatt is a damned good songwriter!

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Badfinger (Max) says:

    You picked an excellent song…it’s one of those songs I had a love affair with back in the day…and now I’ve been listening to it for the past couple of days falling for it again….it’s like finding an old friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Have you listened to the John Hiatt version? It’s really good! And yes, like finding an old friend is a good way of putting it. I need to re-watch Road House also, as not only has Jeff passed on but Patrick Swayze as well 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Badfinger (Max) says:

        I’m listening to it now as I type. I had never heard it before…I love Hiatt…it is a good version.
        It’s been a while since I watched Road House as well.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          Have you heard of something called Riff Tracks? If you haven’t, maybe Bailey has. It’s where the soundtrack of a movie is re-recorded in a Mystery Science Theater way. I remember my kids had a Riff Trax of Road House.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Badfinger (Max) says:

            I just looked it up. It looks awesome and funny. I always liked Mystery Science Theater.

            Liked by 1 person

  7. BTW, I forgot to mention that coincidentally I have a John Hiatt tune in my upcoming “Sunday Six”, which by the time I saw your post I already had largely written. And even if that wouldn’t have been the case, John Hiatt’s deserves to be celebrated. I suspect I’ll do more on him!😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Groovadelic, Christian!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In other news, I just got back from a local bike store where I finally brought my bike for a tune-up!

        They seem to be really nice there, actually looking to fix/service rather than replace parts. The store clerk who took care of me liked my bike, saying he felt it was totally worthwhile investing in a tune-up.

        Obviously, he does have a self-interest, though to me it sounded like he was sincere.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          ***FANTASTIC*** Christian! Happy you’ll be out on the trails with your bike soon. While you’re waiting for it, here’s a website you might find a use for:
          https://www.traillink.com/

          Like

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