AKA Jeffrey Scott Buckley
Birthplace: Anaheim, CA
Location of death: Memphis, TN
Cause of death: Accident - Drowning
Race or Ethnicity: White
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Influential rock vocalist
Burdened with expectations that were the inevitable result of being the son of the talented and doomed singer/songwriter Tim Buckley, Jeff Buckley ultimately lived up to both aspects of his father's legacy, while also establishing an identity entirely his own. Raised in the midst of the scenic tedium of Orange County, Jeff (or 'Scotty') carried his step-father's surname Moorhead until the age of 10, at which time he reclaimed 'Buckley' following his biological father's death from a heroin overdose in 1975. Not surprisingly, as a teen he became musically active, showing himself to have both perfect pitch and a natural facility with the guitar; his musical tastes during this period leaned towards the 'progressive' bands of the 1970s such as Yes, Genesis and Rush, as well as some heavy metal acts like Van Halen. After high school Buckley relocated to Los Angeles to attend the Musician's Institute, while at the same time performing on guitar with various bands -- the most notable being a stint with the dancehall/reggae performer Shinehead.
Buckley's two years of study left him with a bad taste in his mouth, and in 1990 he relocated again, this time to New York City. It was here that he began to establish himself as a solo performer, making his public debut at St. Ann's Church in 1991 as part of a tribute concert to honor his late father. One of the two of his father's songs that he interpreted that evening was done in collaboration with Gary Lucas, a former guitarist for Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band; Buckley participated in Lucas' band Gods and Monsters during his first few years in New York, and Lucas in turn contributed to Buckley's first and only full-length solo album Grace, issued in 1994. A year prior to the album, Buckley's made his recording debut on Columbia Records with the four-track EP Live At Sin-é (1993), which featured simple voice-and-electric guitar performances captured at the small East Village coffeehouse mentioned in the title.
With the release of Grace Buckley established a strong following that grew to include many of the musicians that had inspired him as a teenager, among whom could be counted names like Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, Bob Dylan and Rush drummer Neil Peart. This sudden fame was not entirely welcomed by the young performer, however, and the constraints of a high public profile (and the typically underhanded dealings of a major label) became an ongoing source of frustration. For the majority of the next few years he kept himself occupied with touring, performing with his band across the States, the UK, Europe, Japan and Australia, in venues ranging in size from the tiny coffeehouses he preferred to the Olympia Music Hall in Paris. A brief bit of moonlighting as bass player for Mind Science of the Mind (a project led by his friend Nathan Larson, guitarist for Shudder to Think) was somehow squeezed in during the middle of 1996.
Starting in mid-1996, Buckley and his band made sporadic attempts to record his second solo effort, which was to be titled My Sweetheart the Drunk. Sessions produced in New York by Tom Verlaine were later abandoned, and in early 1997 the band convened in Memphis to resume work; Buckley remained after the first round of recordings were done to develop new material, while also making weekly solo appearances at a local venue. On the day he was scheduled to reunite with his bandmates to resume work on the album, Buckley spontaneously decided to take a swim, fully-clothed, in the Mississippi river; he was caught in the wake of a passing boat and drowned. An album of the various Sweetheart sessions was released posthumously in 1998 under the title Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk; a pair of live collections (Mystery White Boy (2000) and Live at L'Olympia (2001)) were also posthumously issued, as were several bits-and-pieces collections.
Father: Tim Buckley (folk musician)
Mother: Mary Guibert
High School: Loara High School, Anaheim, CA
University: Musician's Institute, Los Angeles, CA
Shinehead Guitarist (1988-89)
Gods and Monsters Vocalist (1991-92)
Mind Science of the Mind Bassist (1996)
Is the subject of books:
Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley, 2001, BY: David Browne
A Wished-For Song: A Portrait of Jeff Buckley, 2002, BY: Merri Cyr
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