Sounds and Rhythm
Compiled by Nazia Ahmed
BORN in Anaheim, California, Buckley was the only son of Mary Guibert and Tim Buckley. Many times he moved in and around of Orange County while growing up with a single mother. As a child, Buckley was known as Scott "Scotty" Moorhead based on his middle name and his stepfather's surname. His biological father, Tim Buckley, was a singer-songwriter who released a series of highly acclaimed folk and jazz albums in the late 1960s and early 1970s. However, Buckley said he only met him once at the age of eight.
Since he was the son of cult songwriter Tim Buckley, Jeff faced more expectations and pre-conceived notions than most singer/songwriters. Perhaps it wasn't surprising that Jeff Buckley's music was related to his father's by only the thinnest of margins. Buckley's voice was grand and sweeping, which fit with the mock-operatic grandeur of his Van Morrison-meets-Led Zeppelin music.
Buckley began playing while in high school. Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles to study music; while he was there, he performed with several jazz and funk bands, as well as playing with Shinehead, a leader in the dancehall reggae movement. A few years later, he moved to New York, forming Gods & Monsters with the experimental guitarist Gary Lucas. The band became a hip name, yet their lifespan was short. Buckley began a solo career playing at clubs and coffeehouses, building up a considerable following. Soon, he signed a record deal with Columbia Records, releasing the Live at Sin-e EP in November of 1993. It received good reviews, yet they didn't compare to the raves Buckley's full-length debut, 1994's Grace. Unlike the EP, the album was recorded with a full band, which gave the record textures that surprised some of his long-time New York followers. Nevertheless, it made several year-end "Best of 1994" lists and earned him a belated alternative hit, "Last Goodbye," in the spring of 1995.
A long hiatus followed as Buckley worked on material for his follow-up effort, provisionally titled My Sweetheart, the Drunk. Originally slated to be produced by Tom Verlaine, who later dropped out of the project, Buckley finally began to work on the record in Memphis during the late spring of 1997. On the night of May 29, he and a friend travelled to the local Mud Island Harbour, where Buckley spontaneously decided to go swimming in the Mississippi River and waded into the water fully clothed. A few minutes later, he disappeared under the waves; authorities were quickly contacted, but to no avail -- on June 4, his body was finally found floating near the city's famed Beale Street area. Buckley was 30 years old. A collection of unreleased recordings, Sketches (For My Sweetheart the Drunk), appeared in 1998, and two live albums arrived during 2000-2001, Mystery White Boy and Live at L'Olympia.
After Buckley's death, a collection of demo recordings and a full-length album he had been reworking on for his second album were released as Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunkthe compilation being overseen by his mother, Mary Guibert, band members and old friend Michael J. Clouse, as well as Chris Cornell. The album achieved gold sales in Australia in 1998. Three other albums composed of live recordings have also been released, along with a live DVD of a performance in Chicago. A previously unreleased 1992 recording of "I Shall Be Released", sung by Buckley over the phone on live radio, was released on the album For New Orleans.
Since his death, Buckley has been the subject of numerous documentaries Buckley's premature death inspired many artists he knew or influenced to write songs in tribute to the late singer.