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General information  

  • Real name : Jeffrey Scott Buckley
  • Place of birth : Anaheim
  • Date of birth : 17/11/1966
  • Place of death : Memphis
  • Date of death : 17/11/1966

Alias  

  • Buckley Jeff
  • Jeffrey Scott Buckley

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Jeff Buckley (1966)

Jeffrey Scott Buckley

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  Summary  

Jeffrey Scott "Jeff" Buckley (November 17, 1966 – May 29, 1997), raised as Scotty Moorhead, was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. He was the son of Tim Buckley, also a musician. After a decade as a guitarist-for-hire in Los Angeles, Buckley amassed a following in the early 1990s by playing cover songs at venues in Manhattan's East Village, such as Sin-é, gradually focusing more on his own material. After rebuffing much interest from record labels and his father's manager Herb Cohen, he signed with Columbia, recruited a band, and recorded what would be his only studio album, Grace.

Over the following two years, the band toured widely to promote the album, including concerts in the U.S., Europe, Japan and Australia. In 1996, they stopped touring and made sporadic attempts to record his second album in New York with Tom Verlaine as producer. In 1997, Buckley moved to Memphis, Tennessee, to resume work on the album, to be titled My Sweetheart the Drunk, recording many four-track demos while also playing weekly solo shows at a local venue. While awaiting the arrival of his band from New York, he drowned during a spontaneous evening swim — fully clothed — in the Wolf River, when he was caught in the wake of a passing boat. His body was found on June 4, 1997.

Since his death, there have been many posthumous releases of his material, including a collection of four-track demos and studio recordings for his unfinished second album My Sweetheart the Drunk and expansions of debut album Grace and his Live at Sin-é EP. Chart success also came posthumously; with Leonard Cohen's song, "Hallelujah" he attained his first #1 on Billboard's Hot Digital Songs in March 2008 and reached #2 in the UK Singles Chart in Christmas 2008. Buckley and his work remain popular and are regularly featured in 'greatest' lists in the music press.

  Biography  

 early life
Born in Anaheim, California, Buckley was the only son of Mary Guibert and Tim Buckley. His mother was a Panama Canal Zonian of mixed Greek, French, American and Panamanian descent, while his father was the descendant of Italian on his mother side and Irish immigrants from Cork. Buckley was raised by his mother and stepfather, Ron Moorhead, in Southern California, and had a half-brother, Corey Moorhead. Buckley moved many times in and around Orange County while growing up with a single mother, an upbringing Buckley called "rootless trailer trash". 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. Buckley said he only met him once at the age of eight. After his father died of a drug overdose in 1975, he chose to go by Buckley and his real first name, which he found on his birth certificate. To members of his family he remained "Scotty".

Buckley was brought up around music. His mother was a classically trained pianist and cellist. His stepfather introduced him to Led Zeppelin, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and Pink Floyd at an early age. Buckley grew up singing around the house and in harmony with his mother, later noting that all his family sang. Buckley began playing guitar at the age of five after discovering an acoustic guitar in his grandmother's closet. Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti was the first album he ever owned; the hard rock band Kiss was also an early favorite. At the age of 12, he decided to become a musician, and received his first electric guitar — a black Les Paul — at the age of 13. He attended Loara High School, and played in the school's jazz band. During this time, he developed an affinity for progressive rock bands such as Rush, Genesis, and Yes, as well as jazz fusion guitarist Al Di Meola.

After graduating from high school, he moved north to Hollywood to attend the Musicians Institute, completing the one-year course at the age of 19. Buckley later told Rolling Stone the school was "the biggest waste of time", but noted in an interview with Double Take Magazine that he appreciated studying music theory there, saying, "I was attracted to really interesting harmonies, stuff that I would hear in Ravel, Ellington, Bartók."

 early career
Buckley spent the next six years working in a hotel and playing guitar in various struggling bands playing in styles from jazz, reggae, and roots rock to heavy metal. He toured with the dancehall reggae artist Shinehead and also played the occasional funk and R&B studio session, collaborating with fledgling producer Michael J. Clouse to form X-Factor Productions. Throughout this period, Buckley limited his singing to backing vocals.

He moved to New York City in February 1990, but found few opportunities to work as a musician. He was introduced to Qawwali, the devotional music of Pakistan, and to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, one of its best-known singers. Buckley was an impassioned fan of Khan, and during his cafe days, he often covered Khan's songs. In January 1996, he interviewed Khan for Interview and wrote liner notes for Khan's Supreme Collection, Vol. 1 compilation. Buckley also became interested in blues musician Robert Johnson and hardcore punk band Bad Brains during this time. Buckley moved back to Los Angeles in September when his father's former manager, Herb Cohen, offered to help him record his first demo of original songs. Buckley completed Babylon Dungeon Sessions, a four-song cassette that included the songs "Eternal Life", "Unforgiven" (later titled "Last Goodbye"), "Strawberry Street" , and punk screamer "Radio". Cohen and Buckley hoped to attract attention from the music industry with the demo tape.

Buckley flew back to New York early the following year to make his public singing debut at a tribute concert for his father called "Greetings from Tim Buckley". The event, produced by show business veteran Hal Willner, was held at St. Ann's Church in Brooklyn on April 26, 1991. Buckley rejected the idea of the concert as a springboard to his career, instead citing personal reasons regarding his decision to sing at the tribute. With accompaniment by experimental rock guitarist Gary Lucas, Buckley performed "I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain", a song Tim Buckley wrote about an infant Jeff Buckley and his mother. Buckley returned to the stage to play "Sefronia – The King's Chain", "Phantasmagoria in Two", and concluded the concert with "Once I Was" performed acoustically with an impromptu a cappella ending, due to a snapped guitar string. Willner, the show's organizer, later recalled that Buckley's set closer made a strong impression. Buckley's performance at the concert was counter-intuitive to his desire to distance himself musically from his father. Buckley later explained his reasoning to Rolling Stone: "It wasn't my work, it wasn't my life. But it bothered me that I hadn't been to his funeral, that I'd never been able to tell him anything. I used that show to pay my last respects." The concert proved to be his first step into the music industry that had eluded him for years.

On subsequent trips to New York in mid-1991, Buckley began co-writing with Gary Lucas resulting in the songs "Grace" and "Mojo Pin", and by late 1991 he began performing with Lucas' band Gods and Monsters around New York City. After being offered a development deal as a member of Gods and Monsters at Imago Records, Buckley moved back to New York to the Lower East Side at the end of 1991. The day after Gods and Monsters officially debuted in March 1992, Buckley decided to leave the band.


Buckley began performing at several clubs and cafés around Lower Manhattan, but Sin-é in the East Village became his main venue. Buckley first appeared at the small Irish café in April 1992, and quickly earned a regular Monday night slot there. His repertoire consisted of a diverse range of folk, rock, R&B, blues and jazz cover songs, much of it music he had newly learned. During this period, he discovered singers such as Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Van Morrison, and Judy Garland. Buckley performed an eclectic selection of covers from a range of artists from Led Zeppelin, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Bob Dylan, Édith Piaf, Elton John, The Smiths, Bad Brains, Leonard Cohen, Robert Johnson and Siouxsie Sioux. Original songs from the Babylon Dungeon Sessions, and the songs he'd written with Gary Lucas were also included in his set lists. He performed solo, accompanying himself on a borrowed Fender Telecaster. Buckley stated that he learned how to perform onstage from playing to small audiences.

Over the next few months, Buckley attracted admiring crowds and attention from record label executives. Industry maven Clive Davis even dropped by to see him. By the summer of 1992, limos from executives eager to sign the singer lined the street outside Sin-é. Buckley signed with Columbia Records, home of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, for a three-album, essentially million-dollar deal in October 1992. Recording dates were set for July and August 1993 for what would become Buckley's recording debut, an EP of four songs which included a cover of Van Morrison's "The Way Young Lovers Do". Live at Sin-é was released on November 23, 1993, documenting this period of Buckley's life.

 death
On the evening of May 29, 1997, Buckley's band flew to Memphis intending to join him in his studio there to work on the newly written material. That same evening, Buckley went swimming in Wolf River Harbor, a slackwater channel of the Mississippi River, while wearing boots, all of his clothing, and singing the chorus of the song "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin. Buckley had gone swimming there several times before. A roadie in Buckley's band, Keith Foti, remained on shore. After moving a radio and guitar out of reach of the wake from a passing tugboat, Foti looked up to see that Buckley had vanished. Despite a determined rescue effort that night, Buckley remained missing. On June 4, two locals spotted his body in the Mississippi River near a riverboat, and it was brought to land.

Buckley's autopsy showed no signs of drugs or alcohol in his system and the death was ruled as an accidental drowning. The following statement was released from the Buckley estate:

Jeff Buckley's death was not "mysterious", related to drugs, alcohol, or suicide. We have a police report, a medical examiner's report, and an eye witness to prove that it was an accidental drowning, and that Mr. Buckley was in a good frame of mind prior to the accident.

 legacy
After Buckley's death, a collection of demo recordings and a full-length album he had been reworking for his second album were released as Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk — the 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: Fall in Light, a 1999 production for French TV, Goodbye and Hello, a program about Buckley and his father produced for Netherlands TV in 2000 and Everybody Here Wants You, a documentary made in 2002 by the British Broadcasting Corporation . An hour long documentary about Buckley called Amazing Grace: Jeff Buckley has been shown at various film festivals to critical acclaim. The film was released worldwide in 2009 by Sony BMG Legacy as part of the Grace Around The World Deluxe Edition. In the spring of 2009 it was revealed that Ryan Jaffe, best known for scripting the movie The Rocker, had replaced Brian Jun as screenwriter for the upcoming film Mystery White Boy.Orion Williams is also set to co-produce the film with Michelle Sy. A separate project involving the book Dream Brother was allegedly cancelled.

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  Albums 

  Tracks  

Name Duration Released
I Know It's Over 06:28 21/05/2007
Forget Her 05:10 21/05/2007
If You Knew 04:28 2003
Night Flight 06:40 2003
Strange Fruit 07:43 2003
Be Your Husband 04:55 2003
Calling You 05:49 2003
Just Like a Woman 07:26 2003
Twelfth of Never 03:35 2003
Unforgiven 05:36 2003
Satisfied Mind 03:31 15/10/2002
Song To No One 03:43 15/10/2002
How Long Will It Take 05:14 15/10/2002
Malign Fiesta 04:27 15/10/2002
Harem Man 05:36 15/10/2002
She Is Free 04:38 15/10/2002
Cruel 05:32 15/10/2002
Kashmir 01:34 03/07/2001
That's All I Ask 05:18 03/07/2001
Kick Out the Jams 03:06 03/07/2001
Hallelujah/I Know It's Over 09:18 09/05/2000
Kanga-Roo 10:23 09/05/2000
The Man That Got Away 03:46 09/05/2000
Moodswing Whiskey 05:37 09/05/2000
What Will You Say 07:34 09/05/2000
I Woke Up In A Strange Place 05:05 09/05/2000
Morning Theft 03:39 26/05/1998
New Year's Prayer 04:40 26/05/1998
Witches Rave 04:40 26/05/1998
Yard of Blonde Girls 04:07 26/05/1998
Nightmare by the Sea 03:53 26/05/1998
Opened Once 03:29 26/05/1998
Everybody Here Wants You 04:46 26/05/1998
You and I 05:39 26/05/1998
The Sky Is a Landfill 05:09 26/05/1998
Vancouver 03:12 26/05/1998
Thousand Fold 00:00 05/1998
Hymne à l'amour 05:40 10/1995
Medley 05:40 10/1995
Ivo 09:10 10/1995
The Way Young Lovers Do 12:12 10/1995
Lost Highway 00:00 06/1995
Lover, You Should've Come Over 06:43 23/08/1994
Hallelujah 06:53 23/08/1994
So Real 04:43 23/08/1994
Lilac Wine 04:32 23/08/1994
Last Goodbye 04:35 23/08/1994
Grace 05:22 23/08/1994
Dream Brother 05:26 23/08/1994
Mojo Pin 05:42 23/08/1994
Eternal Life 04:52 23/08/1994
Corpus Christi Carol 02:56 23/08/1994
Je n'en connais pas la fin (I Don't Know the End of It) 05:00 23/11/1993

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  Sources

Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Jeff Buckley", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.