The son of respected singer-songwriter Tim Buckley, Jeff Buckley not unnaturally took exception to comparisons with his father, and cited his mother Mary Guibert as a greater influence. Having studied at the Los Angeles Musicians' Institute, Jeff moved to New York, where he first garnered attention at a 1991 Tim Buckley tribute performing 'Once I Was'. He made numerous appearances at several of the city's clubs, including the Fez and Bang On, recording his debut mini-album at the Sin-é coffee house. This tentative four-song set included two original compositions, alongside versions of Van Morrison's 'The Way Young Lovers Do' and Edith Piaf's 'Je N'En Connais Pas Le Fin'. Having secured a major contract with Sony Records, Buckley completed the critically acclaimed Grace with his regular band: Michael Tighe (guitar), Mick Grondhal (bass) and Matt Johnson (drums). An expressive singer with an astonishing range, Buckley soared and swept across a near-perfect collection, which included cover versions of Elkie Brooks' 'Lilac Wine' and Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' alongside several breathtakingly original songs. His live appearances were acclaimed as revelatory, blending expressive readings of material from Grace with an array of interpretations ranging from Big Star ('Kanga Roo') to the MC5 ('Kick Out The Jams').
Buckley was a gifted, melodic composer whose awareness of contemporary guitar bands brought dynamism to the singer-songwriter form. An increasingly troubled man, he was about to resume working on aborted sessions for his second album when he drowned in a hazardous stretch of the Mississippi. Having entered the river fully clothed for a swim, Buckley was fatally pulled under by the wake from a passing tugboat. His final recordings were released as Sketches (For My Sweetheart The Drunk) in May 1998, comprising sessions recorded with Tom Verlaine and the basic four-track demos on which Buckley was working at the time of his death. The album charted in the UK Top 10, revealing an abiding interest in Buckley's music. Several posthumous releases have followed. Few singers in recent years touched people to the same degree as Jeff Buckley.
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