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.
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