Guitarist and guitar teacher Harry Leahey was a respected member of the New Jersey/New York jazz community when cancer took his life prematurely in 1990 at the age of 54. Leahey grew up in Plainfield, NJ, and began playing guitar at age 13, taking his inspiration from Charlie Christian, Tal Farlow, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, and Barney Kessel.
He won a Grammy for his work with the Phil Woods Quintet on Live from the Showboat (RCA Records). He worked with saxophonist Woods from 1977 to 1980, and considered the Grammy-winning Showboat album one of the high points of his career. Leahey recorded a second album with Woods, Song for Sisyphus in 1979.
Leahey's many students from the New York jazz scene included Vic Juris, Bob DaVois, Jeff Mirnoff, and Steve Conte. For most of the '70s and '80s, when he wasn't on the road, he taught from his home and as an adjunct professor at William Paterson College.
Aside from recording and touring with Woods, Leahey also worked with baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, vocalist Mark Murphy, saxophonist/clarinetist Al Cohn, and saxophonist Ira Sullivan. He also led his own trio for most of the '70s and '80s, playing in clubs around New York and New Jersey. Leahey's own albums for the Omnisound label include Still Waters in 1980 and Silver Threads in 1981.