was born in California's Orange County in 1966 and died in a tragic
drowning accident in Memphis on May 29, 1997. He had emerged in
New York City's avant-garde club scene in the 1990's as one of
the most remarkable musical artists of his generation, acclaimed
by audiences, critics, and fellow musicians alike. His first commercial
recording, the four-song EP Live At Sin-é, was
released in December 1993 on Columbia Records. The EP captured
Buckley, accompanying himself on electric guitar, in a tiny coffeehouse
in New York's East Village, the neighborhood he'd made his home.
By the time of the EP's release during the
fall of 1993, Buckley had already entered the studio with Mick
Grondahl (bass), Matt Johnson (drummer), and producer Andy Wallace
and recorded seven original songs (including "Grace"
and "Last Goodbye") and three covers (among them Leonard
Cohen's "Hallelujah", Benjamin Britten's "Corpus
Christi Carol") that comprised his debut album Grace. Guitarist
Michael Tighe became a permanent member of Jeff Buckley's ensemble
and went on to co-write and perform on Grace's "So
Real" just prior to the release of the album.
In early 1994, not long after Live At Sin-é
appeared in stores, Jeff Buckley toured clubs, lounges, and
coffeehouses in North America as a solo artist from January 15-March
5 as well as in Europe from March 11-22. Following extensive rehearsals
in April-May 1994, Buckley's "Peyote Radio Theatre Tour"
found him on the road with his band from June 2-August 16. His
full-length full-band album, Grace, was released in the
United States on August 23, 1994, the same day Buckley and band
kicked off a European tour in Dublin, Ireland; the 1994 European
Tour ran through September 22, with Buckley and Ensemble performing
at the CMJ convention at New York's Supper Club on September 24.
The group headed back into America's clublands for a Fall Tour
lasting from October 19-December 18.
On New Year's Eve 1994-95, Buckley returned
to Sin-é to perform a solo set; on New Year's Day, he read
an original poem at the annual St. Mark's Church Marathon Poetry
Reading. Two weeks later, he and his band were back in Europe
for gigs in Dublin, Bristol, and London before launching an extensive
tour of Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium, and the
United Kingdom which lasted from January 29-March 5. On April
13 1995, it was announced that Jeff Buckley's Grace had
earned him France's prestigious "Gran Prix International
Du Disque -- Academie Charles CROS -- 1995"; an award given
by a jury of producers, journalists, the president of France Culture,
and music industry professionals, it had previously been given
to Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Yves Montand, Georges Brassens, Bruce
Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Joni Mitchell,
among other musical luminaries. France also awarded Buckley a
gold record certification for Grace.
From March 5 through April 20, Buckley and
his band rehearsed for an American spring tour with gigs running
from April 22-June 2. From June through August, Jeff and company
toured the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Belgium, Germany,
the Netherlands, Italy, and Switzerland. The band took off for
Down Under to play six Australian shows between August 28-September
6, 1995. In November 1995, Buckley played two unannounced solo
shows at Sin-é.He performed songs including the new "Woke
Up In A Strange Place" on Vin Scelsa's "Idiot's Delight"
show on WXRK-FM on December 17 and celebrated New Year's Eve 1995-96
with performances at New York's Mercury Lounge and Sin-é.
Jeff Buckley and his touring ensemble went
back to Australia, where Grace had earned a gold record
certification, for the "Hard Luck Tour," which ran from
February 9-March 1 of 1996. Drummer Matt Johnson left the group
after the final Australian show. The posthumous album Jeff Buckley-Mystery
White Boy brings together some of the high points from Jeff's
1995-1996 live performances. The DVD/home video release Jeff Buckley-Live
In Chicago documents, in its entirety, Jeff's concert at The Cabaret
Metro in Chicago on May 13, 1995.
In May of '96, Jeff played four gigs as a bass
player with Mind Science of the Mind, a side-project of Buckley's
friend, Nathan Larson of Shudder To Think. In September '96, Buckley
played another unannounced solo gig at his old favorite haunt
Sin-é. December of 1996 found Jeff Buckley embarking on
his "phantom solo tour"; designed to experiment with
new songs in a live setting (as in his Sin-é days), these
unannounced solo gigs throughout the Northeast U.S. were played
under a succession of aliases: the Crackrobats, Possessed By Elves,
Father Demo, Smackrobiotic, the Halfspeeds, Crit Club, Topless
America, Martha & the Nicotines, and A Puppet Show Named Julio.
At midnight on February 9, 1997, Jeff Buckley
debuted his new drummer, Parker Kindred, in a show at Arlene Grocery
on New York's Lower East Side. He also played a couple of solo
gigs in New York during the first months of 1997: a gig at the
Daydream Cafe (featuring band members Mick Grondahl and Michael
Tighe as "special guests") and a solo performance February
4 as part of the Knitting Factory's 10-Year Birthday Party.
Buckley and his band had recorded intermittently
-- with Tom Verlaine as producer -- during Summer/Fall 1996 and
early winter 1997 in New York and in February 1997 in Memphis.
After the conclusion of those sessions, Jeff sent the band back
to New York while, during March and April 1997, he remained in
Memphis and continued to craft his work-in-progress, making various
four-track home recordings of songs to present to his bandmates.
Some of these were revisions of the songs recorded with Verlaine,
some were brand new compositions, and some were surprising cover
versions. The new lineup debuted Buckley's new songs at Barrister's
in Memphis on February 12 and 13. Beginning March 31, Jeff began
a series of regularly scheduled Monday night solo performances
at Barrister's. His last show there was on Monday, May 26, 1997.
The night Buckley died, he was on his way to meet his band to
begin three weeks of rehearsals for my sweetheart, the drunk;
producer Andy Wallace, who'd helmed the boards on Grace, was to
join them in Memphis in late June to record his new album.
In addition to his Columbia Records releases,
Live At Sin-é and Grace, Jeff Buckley
has appeared as a guest artist on several other recordings. He
can be heard singing "Jolly Street," a track on the
Jazz Passengers 1994 album In Love. He contributed tenor vocals
to "Taipan" and "D. Popylepis," two recordings
on John Zorn's Cobra Live At The Knitting Factory (1995). On Rebecca
Moore's Admiral Charcoal's Song, Buckley plays electric six-string
bass on "If You Please Me," "Outdoor Elevator,"
and "Needle Men" (on which he also plays drums). He
both plays guitar and sings backup vocals on Brenda Kahn's "Faith
Salons," a key track on her Destination Anywhere album (released
1996). Patti Smith's critically acclaimed Gone Again album features
Buckley adding "voice" to the song "Beneath the
Southern Cross" and "essrage" (a small fretless
Indian stringed instrument) to "Fireflies." On kicks
joy darkness, a various artists' spoken word tribute to beat poet
Jack Kerouac, Jeff Buckley performed on "Angel Mine";
Jeff plays guitar, sitar, and mouth sax (adding words at the poem's
conclusion) on the track. Buckley can be heard reading Edgar Allan
Poe's "Ulallume - A Ballad," on Closed On Account Of
Rabies (Poems & Tales by Edgar Allan Poe) on Mouth Almighty/Mercury
Records. He sang "I Want Someone Badly" (Epic) for Shudder
To Think's soundtrack to First Love, Last Rites. Sandy Bell, a
friend of Buckley's during his L.A. days, released the resurrected
track "Hollywould" in 2000, which she co-wrote and recorded
An ardent enthusiast for a myriad of musical
forms, Jeff Buckley was an early champion among young American
musicians for the work of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the world's foremost
Qawwali (the music of the Sufis) singer. Buckley conducted an
extensive interview with Nusrat in Interview magazine (January
1996) and wrote the liner notes Nusrat's The Supreme Collection
album, released on Mercator/Caroline records in August 1997. On
May 9, 2000, Columbia Records released Jeff Buckley-Mystery White
Boy, an album of live performances, and Jeff Buckley-Live
In Chicago, a full-length concert (available on DVD or VHS)
recorded live at The Cabaret Metro in Chicago on May 13, 1995,
in the midst of Jeff's "Mystery White Boy" tour.
Following the release of Grace on
August 23, 1994, Jeff and his group spent much of 1994-1996 performing
around the world on the Unknown, Mystery White Boy, and Hard Luck
tours. Jeff Buckley-Mystery White Boy brings together,
for the first time, some of the high points of those shows. Produced
by Michael Tighe (guitarist for Jeff's band throughout their international
touring and the recording of Grace) and Mary Guibert (Jeff's mother)
and Jeff Buckley-Mystery White Boy provides an evocative
cross-section of Jeff's repertoire: previously-unreleased Buckley
compositions, electrifying live interpretations of songs from
Grace, and obscure and marvelous cover choices. The recordings
heard on Jeff Buckley-Mystery White Boy have been hand-picked
from scores of concert tapes by Mary Guibert and the members of
Jeff's band who played such a large role in helping Jeff realize
his musical vision.
According to Mary, the tracks on Jeff Buckley-Mystery
White Boy are "the individual performances that represented
transcendent moments from each of the concerts we'd identified
as being in the 'overall outstanding' category."
"It was obvious which performances were
contenders for the record," concurs Michael Tighe, "and
in some cases a performance would be so supreme and unpredictable
that I knew it had to be brought to the public."