Philip Sayce recalls big break with Jeff Healey

Philip Sayce
Philip Sayce

Philip Sayce has recalled the moment Jeff Healey invited him to share a stage – which proved to be the Welsh-Canadian guitarist’s breakthrough moment.

First noted as a teenage artist, he eventually spent four years in the late Healey’s band, followed by stints with Uncle Kracker, Melissa Etheridge and Jimmy Barnes, before establishing his solo reputation with 2009 album Peace Machine.

Sayce tells Ottawa Life: “It wasn’t planned. I was with my manager and we ran into Jeff. We ended up going into a club – and, of course, as soon as Jeff walked into a club he was immediately invited up on stage.

“Jeff grabbed me and said, ‘Let’s go! You grab the guitar, I’ll play bass.’ I was pretty freaked out, having to play guitar for one of my favourite musicians on the planet.

“We ended up playing a couple of Cream songs. I think it was Crossroads by Robert Johnson and Spoonful by Willie Dixon, and it was truly amazing. We then walked outside and Jeff invited me to join his band. I was completely speechless.”

He continues: “Jeff was a true musical genius. To be in his presence on a nightly basis was what I call the University of Jeff Healey. It sent me on a lifelong journey of always trying to get better, always trying to get deeper, and always giving my all.

“I honestly just tried to be a sponge in his presence and learn as much as I possibly could. It was a beautiful time that I am eternally grateful for.”

Sayce released seventh album Influence last year. He reports that future plans include the launch of a live recording and a tour of Europe, adding: “I’ve also been writing music – I have a lot of ideas started that I would like to finish and release.”

Philip Sayce talks Influence