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Jazz Guitarist Jeff Golub Hopeful Despite Going Blind

  • Doug Levine

The year 2011 has been a roller coaster ride for jazz and blues guitarist Jeff Golub. The release of his newest album came after the musician lost his eyesight.

Golub rose to fame playing guitar with rock stars Rod Stewart and Billy Squier. As a bandleader, he has recorded nine solo albums and toured regularly across the globe. Keeping up a successful career and raising a family has always been a challenge. However, after after 30 years in the business, Golub faces his obstacle yet: blindness.

According to the guitarist, he was diagnosed with a collapse of the optic nerve, but was told his chances of going totally blind were low.

“I lost sight in my right eye and I thought, ‘OK, a lot of people get along without sight in one eye, I can deal with this.’ I wasn’t even telling people. I just wouldn’t see out of my right eye. And then, just in the beginning of July, the end of June, my left eye started to go," he says. "Then I realized I'd better start telling people about this because I’m going to start bumping into things. There isn’t any hiding the fact an more. The doctor said 10 -15 percent of people who have one eye optic nerve collapse will have the other eye follow suit. I thought I was luckier than that, but apparently not.”

Jeff Golub's "The Three Kings" CD

Jeff Golub's "The Three Kings" CD

Golub and his band pushed on with the release of The Three Kings, a tribute to his blues guitar heroes Albert, Freddie and B.B. King. The album features piano great Henry Butler who, coincidentally, became blind when he was three months old, as well as vocalist and drummer Josh Dion, and fellow guitarists Sonny Landreth and Robben Ford.

Golub says the songs, such as “Let The Good Times Roll” and “The Thrill Is Gone,” were chosen with the three Kings in mind.

“It was really easy coming up with the material and it was easy to come up with the arrangements. Everybody pitched in and we all just did it. Everybody played great and everybody had a great time, and it is the music that inspired me to play,” he says. “It is a labor of love and it’s great to have it out there. I mean there have been so many great blues musicians throughout history that have been blind. The extent I’ll go to to sell a few more records. It’s pretty amazing. Anyway, it’s great that it’s out there, it’s great that promoters have not been shying away, and nobody’s looking at this as a disability.”

Golub recently performed at an all-star benefit concert called “Friends of Jeff Golub,” to help raise funds for his medical expenses. Despite his condition, he intends to continue living a full life.

“Part of it is I’ve got kids. I have an eight-year-old son and a 10-year-old son. I can’t really let my guard down," Golub explains. "They need to see strength coming from me. They don’t need to see me cancelling gigs and wallowing in self-pity. They need to see, you know, their dad.”