IAIN SHED­DEN

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music - SPIN DOC­TOR

LIKE thou­sands of other blues and roots mu­sic fans, Spin Doc­tor was sad­dened last week by the news of Cana­dian gui­tarist Jeff Healey’s death from can­cer. The blind mu­si­cian was only 41 and was about to re­lease his first album of blues- rock ma­te­rial in eight years ( see re­view be­low), fol­low­ing his noughties di­ver­sion into jazz. Healey was a rare vis­i­tor to Aus­tralia, at least in a pro­fes­sional ca­pac­ity, tour­ing here in the early 1990s, but he did come over more re­cently for quite dif­fer­ent rea­sons. It’s a rather touch­ing story, too. For many years Healey was an avid record col­lec­tor. Dur­ing his life he amassed more than 25,000 78rpm records, most of them jazz record­ings, and for a time he had his own ra­dio show in Toronto where he shared some of his prized pos­ses­sions with his lis­ten­ers. About four years ago, Ade­laide mu­sic re­tailer Vic Flierl tells me, a man walked into the Big Star CD store where he worked and asked if he had any 78s. It was Healey, ac­com­pa­nied by his new wife, singer Cristie Hall. The cou­ple were on their hon­ey­moon. Flierl ex­plained that he didn’t have any 78s in the shop but had ac­quired a job lot re­cently that he had at home. It was ar­ranged that the cou­ple would visit Flierl’s home later that day. ‘‘ They came round and he spent a cou­ple of hours go­ing through th­ese 78s,’’ Flierl says. ‘‘ There wasn’t re­ally much there that he liked, but the as­ton­ish­ing thing was the way he looked through them. Like read­ing braille, he ran his fin­gers over the run- out groove on the record and across the la­bel, and from that he could tell what he had in his hands, al­most to the ex­act ti­tles. Cer­tainly he could tell the la­bel. It was quite amaz­ing.’’ FLIERL now has his own CD out­let, Mr V Mu­sic in Semaphore, South Aus­tralia, but last week­end was op­er­at­ing the CD stall at Wo­made­laide. The big­gest sell­ers at the world mu­sic event, he said, in­cluded French out­fit Titi Robin Quar­tet and Aus­tralia’s Wa­tussi. SPIN Doc­tor read with in­ter­est this week the news that the Bea­tles are be­ing used for re­search pur­poses. Psy­chol­o­gists at Leeds Univer­sity in Eng­land are ask­ing peo­ple to re­mem­ber salient mo­ments in their lives that re­late in some way to the Fabs’ mu­sic. The idea is to dis­cover how such rec­ol­lec­tions shape a per­son’s iden­tity. ‘‘ Vir­tu­ally ev­ery­body has got some thoughts or mem­o­ries about the Bea­tles,’’ se­nior lec­turer Ca­tri­ona Mor­ri­son says. If that is the case, it means ev­ery­body read­ing this must have some, too. For ex­am­ple, ev­ery time I hear Here, There and Ev­ery­where it re­minds me of driv­ing down a flight of steps out­side a gig in Brighton, Eng­land; by ac­ci­dent, I should add. Some of you must be able to top that, surely.

spin­doc@ theaus­tralian. com. au

Il­lus­tra­tion: Tom Jel­lett

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