Accession 2009.002 - 2009 acquisition

Identity area

Reference code

CA ON00349 2009.002


2009 acquisition


  • 1917-1942 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Jeff Healey was born in Toronto on March 25th, 1966 and was adopted by his parents in July of that year. As an infant, Healey developed retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer, and consequently lost his sight at the age of one. At the age of three, his father gave him his first guitar and music became a permanent part of his life. Healey developed a unique way of playing the guitar, which involved laying the guitar on his lap and playing with all five fingers of his left hand, picking the guitar with his right hand. Healey lived and grew up in Toronto’s west end, and started collecting records by the age of ten, collecting 78 format gramophone records.

He formed his first band, Blue Direction, in 1979 at the age of thirteen. In July of 1985 he was invited on stage to play with Albert Collins and Stevie Ray Vaughan at Albert Hall, in Toronto. Soon after, in September of that year, Healey met Tom Steven and Joe Rockman at Toronto’s Grossman’s Tavern, and together, they formed the Jeff Healey Band. The band gained success with the release of singles such as “See the Light” and “Adriana”. By 1987, they had received radio airplay in the U.S. In 1988, Jeff began hosting his first radio show on the University of Toronto’s radio station CUIT, playing jazz records from his now vast collection of 78s. Shortly afterwards the Jeff Healey Band released their breakthrough album See the Light, which resulted in their success across the border, with appearances on television and eventually earning them a Grammy nomination in 1989. Later that year the band appeared in the movie Roadhouse and on its soundtrack, and in 1990 the band won their first Juno award.

In 1991, the band established Forte Records, their own recording studio on Spadina Road in Toronto. In October of 1991, Healey began hosting My Kinda Jazz on CBC radio, a one hour radio show during which he plays jazz music recorded between 1917 and 1942 from his personal music collection. In 1994, Jeff and his wife Cristie Healey, had their first daughter, Rachel. The band continued to remain successful, recording several more albums. In 2001, Jeff Healey opened his first music club in Toronto, Healey’s, where he and his blues band and jazz band would play weekly. Jeff was later awarded a Maple Blues Award for Lifetime Acheivement at the 2001 award ceremony. Jeff soon formed his jazz band, the Jazz Wizards, who he continued to play and record with for the rest of his life. During this time, Jeff also had a blues band, the Jeff Healey Blues Band. Jeff also had his own short lived record label, Healey-O-Phonic, upon which he released his 2004 solo album, Adventures in Jazzland. Later that year he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. In 2005, his son Derek was born.

Over the next few years Healey released more albums, and opened another club, Healey’s Roadhouse, but was also diagnosed with cancer, and underwent surgery and treatment. In February 2008, Jeff performed live for the final time in Goderich, Ontario, with his band the Jazz Wizards. Jeff Healey died at the age of 41 after battling metastatic lung cancer for three years. Only a month later, Mess of Blues was released, and marked his first return to rock and blues music in eight years. In October of 2009, Jeff was inducted into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame, now known Canadian Disability Hall of Fame. Several albums have been released posthumously, and in 2011 Woodford Park, in Etobicoke, Ontario, was renamed Jeff Healey Park.

Archival history

Prior to their transfer to the University of Toronto, the records were housed in the personal home of Jeff Healey, in custom made shelving, stored vertically and unsleeved in his basement.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donated to the archive by the estate of Jeff Healey.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The collection consists of roughly 20,000 audio disc records, all in 78rpm format. The recordings span predominantly from 1917 to 1942, when the Musician’s strike took effect due to disagreements between musicians and recording companies over royalty payments. Starting July 31st 1942, union musicians could no longer record. This lasted roughly two years, with various recording companies settling with the union at varying points between 1943 and 1944. Healey deliberately collected records from before this important date in musical history. The records are largely Jazz recordings, representative of the first twenty-five years of Jazz music, with Blues, Ragtime, Dixieland, Dance Band music, entertainment personalities, Swing, and many other genres and sub-genres of the era represented within the collection. Healey started collecting 78s by the time he was ten years old, and by the time of his death in 2008, had amassed roughly 30,000 78s of this kind. Upon his death, many of the more valuable records were sold to collectors from around the world, and thus this collection contains about 20,000 from his original collection. The recordings from this collection were used by Jeff Healey for his first radio show on University of Toronto’s CUIT, and his show on CBC radio, My Kinda Jazz, which also aired on Toronto-based radio station, Jazz.FM91.

The majority of the records are from American record labels, though there are also a fair number from the Compo Company Ltd., based in Lachine, Quebec, and its various offshoots, and some other Canadian companies. There are also some records manufactured in England, France and even Germany, though all are by American recording artists, and often by American record labels with branches abroad.

Based on the period, the majority of the records are likely shellac, not vinyl, but exact materials likely vary by manufacturer. There are also a small number of “flexible” records made from Durium, a patented blend of paper and resin, manufactured during the depression era, as cheaper alternatives to the standard shellac records. The collection also includes a small number of Edison Discs, also referred to as “Diamond Discs”, which are recognized for their distinctive quarter-inch thickness. Most records are unique in the collection, but there are some duplicates.

Prior to his death, Healey began digitizing his collection of records to mp3 format, and inputting information via iTunes. These digital files have not yet been acquired.

APPENDIX A: A Non-exhaustive list of record Labels represented within the collection
 American Records (US)
 Ammor Record Corp (US)
 Apex Records (Canada)
 Arto
 Asch Recording (US)
 Banner records (US)
 Bell Records (US)
 Biltmore (US)
 Blue Ace Records (US)
 Blue Note (US)
 Bluebird (US)
 Broadway Records (US)
 Brunswick (US)
 Bullet (US)
 Cameo Record Corporation (US)
 Capitol (US)
 Cardinal (US)
 Challenge Records (US)
 Champion (US)
 Clarion (US)
 Claxtonola (US)
 Cleartone (US)
 Clover (US)
 Columbia Gramophone Company (UK)
 Columbia Records (US)
 Commodore (US)
 Conqueror (US)
 Coral (US)
 Cosmo (US)
 Crown (Canada)
 D&S
 Davis (US)
 Decatur
 Decca records (UK and US)
 Disque Gramphone (France)
 Diva Records (US)
 Dominion Records (UK)
 Domino records (US)
 Duophone (UK)
 Edison (US)
 Electric Perfect
 Emerson Phonograph Company (US)
 Famous (US)
 Federal (US)
 General (US)
 Gennett (US)
 Globe (US)
 Grey Gull (US)
 Guardsman Records (US)
 Harmony Records (US)
 His Masters Voice (UK)
 Hit of the Week (US)
 Hot Jazz Club of America (US)
 Imperial Records (UK)
 Jazz Man (US)
 Jewel Records (US)
 King (US)
 Liberty Music Shop (US)
 Lincoln Records (US) Lindstrom American Records (US)
 London (UK)
 Lucky (Japan)
 Lucky Strike (Canada)
 Lyric Records (US)
 Madison (US)
 Majestic (US)
 Master (US)
 May-fair (Owned by Campbell Connelly & Co. Ltd.)(UK)
 Medallion (US)
 Melotone(US)
 Mercury (US)
 MGM (US)
 Microphone (Canada)
 Montgomery Ward (US)
 Muse Phonograph Record (US)
 Musicraft (US)
 Nadsco (US)
 National Music Lover’s Inc. (US)
 Odeon(USA)
 Okeh records (US)
 Olympic (UK)
 Operaphone Co. Inc. (US)
 Oriole Records (US)
 Panachord (UK)
 Paramount (US)
 Parlophone (UK)
 Pathe Records (France)
 Pathe Actuelle (US)
 Perfect Records (US)
 Phantasie
 Philharmonic Records (UK)
 Phonola Company (Canada)
 Publix (US)
 Puritan records (US)
 Puretone (US)
 Qualiton (South Wales)
 Quality (Canada)
 Radiex Records (US)
 RCA Victor (US)
 Regal Records (UK)
 Resona (US)
 Rex (US)
 Rich-Tone (US)
 Romeo Records (US)
 Royal (Canada)
 Royale (US)
 Sacred (US)
 Signature (US)
 Silvertone (UK)
 Special Editions (US)
 Starr (and Starr-Gennett)(Canada)
 Sterling (Canada)
 Sun Record Company (Canada)
 Supertone (US)
 Swing (France)
 The Hit Record (US)
 Triangle records (US)
 Van Dyke (US)
 Variety (US)
 Varsity (US)
 Velvet Tone (US)
 Victor Recording Company (US)
 Victrola (US)
 Viking
 Vocalion Records (US and UK)
 Vocalion Records (US and UK)
 The Winner (US)
 World Record (US)

APPENDIX B: An non-exhaustive list of musicians well represented within the collection:
 Al Donahue
 Andrews Sisters
 Andy Kirk
 Art Gilham
 Art Kassel
 Art Tatum
 Artie Shaw
 Bailey’s Lucky Seven
 Ben Selvin
 Bennie Krueger
 Benny Goodman
 Bessie Smith
 Bing Crosby
 Bob Chester
 Bob Crosby
 Bunny Berigan
 Cab Calloway
 Charlie Barnet
 Check Webb
 Clarence Williams
 Coleman Hawkins
 Count Basie and his Kansas City Seven
 Count Basie and his Orchestra
 Dick Jurgens
 Dick Robertson
 Dixieland Swingers
 Duke Ellington
 Earl Hines
 Eddy Duchin
 Ella Fitzgerald
 Erskine Hawkins
 Fats Waller
 Fletcher Henderson
 Frankie Masters
 Freddy Martin
 Gene Krupa
 George Olsen
 Glen Gray
 Glenn Miller
 Gray Gordon
 Guy Lombardo
 Hal Kemp
 Harry James
 Harry James
 Henry Busse
 Henry King
 Horace Heidt
 Ipana Troubadours
 Jan Garber
 Jay McShann
 Jean Goldkette
 Jimmie Lunceford
 Jimmy Dorsey
 Joe Turner
 John Kirby
 Johnny Johnson
 Johnny Long
 Kay Kyser
 Larry Clinton
 Lena Horne
 Leo Reisman
 Lou Gold
 Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five
 Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra
 Marion Harris
 Mills Brothers
 Milt Herth
 Mitchell Ayres
 Nat Shilkret
 New Orleans Rhythm Kings
 Nick LaRocca
 Ozzie Nelson
 Paul Ash
 Paul Whiteman
 Philip Spitalny
 Ray Miller
 Ray Noble
 Red Nichols
 Red Norvo
 Richard Himber
 Roy Eldridge
 Rudy Vallee
 Russ Morgan
 Russ Morgan
 Ruth Etting
 Sammy Kaye
 Shep Fields
 Sidney Bechet
 Ted Weems
 Teddy Powell
 Tempo Kings
 Tommy Dorsey
 Tommy Tucker
 Vincent Lopez
 Wayne King
 Will Bradley
 Will Osborne
 Wingie Mahone
 Woody Herman
 Xavier Cugat
 Yerkes Jazarimba Orchestra

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

It is unknown whether or not the creator’s original order has been maintained in the collection or not, though it is likely not the case. Jeff Healey kept his collection in a specific order so that he would be able to access any given record by feel. When custody of the collection was transferred over to the University of Toronto, it is unknown if the original order was preserved. Regardless, the order in which they were received is the order that has been preserved.

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Preservation concerns may limit access, consult archivist.

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Allied materials area

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Description control area

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Created August 20, 2019 by Elizabeth Carroll from notes by Julie St. Pierre.


  • English



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