Blind guitarist Jeff Healey dies at 41

His unique playing style earned him a reputation as a teenage musical prodigy.

Blind rock and jazz musician Jeff Healey has died after a lifelong battle against cancer. He was 41. Healey died Sunday evening in a Toronto hospital, said bandmate Colin Bray, who was in the room with Healey's family when the guitarist died. The Grammy-nominated Healey rose to stardom as the leader of the Jeff Healey Band, a rock-oriented trio that gained international acclaim and platinum record sales with the 1988 album See the Light. The album included the hit single "Angel Eyes." Healey had battled cancer since age one, when a rare form of retinal cancer known as retinoblastoma claimed his eyesight. Due to his blindness, Healey taught himself to play guitar by laying the instrument across his lap. His unique playing style, combined with his blues-oriented vocals, earned him a reputation as a teenage musical prodigy. He shared stages with George Harrison, B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Bray said he and many others expected the guitarist to rally from this latest illness. Healey had undergone numerous operations in recent years to remove tumors from his lungs and leg. His first rock album in eight years, Mess of Blues, is slated for a North American release on April 22. He is survived by his wife, Christie, and two children.