JEFF HEALY

MARCH 3 2008 10:57h

Canadian Rocker Jeff Healy Dies Of Cancer

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Healy, 41, died in a Toronto hospital of a rare cancer, retino blastoma, that he had fought since birth.

Canadian blind rocker Jeff Healy, who uniquely played his guitar flat on his lap, died of cancer Sunday on the eve of his latest album release, his publicist said in a statement.

Healy, 41, died in a Toronto hospital of a rare cancer, retino blastoma, that he had fought since birth and which claimed his eyesight at the age of one.

"Visually, Jeff was an intriguing player to watch, because he played guitar -- by any conventional standard -- all wrong, with it flat across his lap," his publicist Richard Flohil told broadcaster CTV.

"But he was a remarkable, a virtuoso player." The Jeff Healy Band's 1988 Grammy-nominated album "See the Light," which included the hit "Angle Eyes," sold more than one million copies in the United States.

He played with blues legends B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughn, and recorded with George Harrison, Mark Knopfler, and the late Jimmy Rogers.

At the time of his death, he was about to release his first rock-blues album in eight years, "Mess of Blues." The CD will be released in March and April in North America and Europe, respectively.

A tour of Germany and Britain, as well as an appearance on the BBC's Jools Holland Show have been cancelled.

Last year, Healy had surgery to remove the cancer from his legs, and later from both lungs. He also underwent radiation treatment and chemotherapy.