Canadian jazz guitarist, Jeff Healey, dies at 41

Canadian singer Tom Cochrane (L) is hugged by musician Jeff Healey as he presented with the Hall of Fame Award at the Juno awards, in Ottawa, April 6, 2003. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian jazz guitarist Jeff Healey, known for his blues-based rock and his distinctive playing style, died in hospital on Sunday after a life-long battle with cancer. He was 41.

Healey, stricken with retino blastoma, a rare form of cancer that robbed him of his eyesight as a baby, first picked up the guitar when he was three years old.

With his trademark style of holding the instrument across his lap, Healey formed his first band at 17 and later gained fame for his trio, The Jeff Healey Band.

Discovered by the legendary jazz guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan in a Toronto bar in 1982, Healey released a string of albums over the next 20 years, including the 1988 Grammy-nominated “See the light,” with the hit single “Angel Eyes.”

He performed with a host of legends over his three-decade career, including B.B. King, George Harrison and Vaughan.

Healey was also the host of a long-running jazz radio show and owned the funky “Jeff Healey’s Roadhouse,” a Toronto-based bar in which he frequently recorded.

At the time of his death, he was about to release his first rock and blues recording in eight years, “Mess of Blues.”

Healey leaves his wife Cristie and two children.

Reporting by Scott Anderson; Editing by Bernadette Baum