The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley
Guibert was flipping through a local newspaper, when
she saw a listing for Tim Buckley's upcoming show. It was,
she says, "an epiphany". It had been six years since
she and her first husband had seen each other, and nearly
as long since they had spoken. Mary and Jeff took the hour-long
drive to Huntington Beach, an oceanside town ten miles southwest
of Orange County, and arrived at the Golden Bear just before
Tim walked on-stage. They took a seat on a bench in the second
seemed enraptured, bouncing in his seat to the rhythms of
Tim's twelve-string guitar and rock band. "Scotty was
in love," Mary says. "He was immediately entranced.
His little eyes were just dancing in his head." To Mary,
Tim was still a dynamic performer, bouncing on his heels with
his eyes shut, but she also felt he looked careworn for someone
still in his 20s.
At the end of the
set, no sooner had Mary asked her son if he wanted to meet his
father than the kid was out of his seat and scurrying in the
direction of the backstage area. As they entered the cramped
dressing room, Jeff clutched his mother's long skirt. It seemed
a foreign and frightening world to him, until he heard someone
shout out, "Jeff!" Although no one had called him
that before in his life - he was still "Scotty" to
everyone - Jeff ran across the room to a table where Tim was
resting after the show.
hoisted his son on to his knees and began rocking him back
and forth with a smile as Jeff gave his father a crash course
on his life, rattling off his age, the name of his dog, his
teachers, his half-brother and other vital statistics. "I
sat on his knees for fifteen minutes," Jeff wrote later.
"He was hot and sweaty. I kept on feeling his legs. 'Wow,
you need an iceberg to cool you off!' I was very embarrassing
- doing my George Carlin impression for him for no reason.
Very embarrassing. He smiled the whole time. Me too."
drummer, Buddy Helm, recalls. "It was a very personal
moment. The kid seemed very genuine, totally in love with
his dad. It was like wanting to connect. He didn't know anything
personally about Tim but was there ready to do it." The
same seemed to be true of Tim; after years of distance from
his son, he seemed to feel it was time to re-cement whatever
bond existed between them.
after, before the second set began, Judy, Tim's new partner,
asked Mary if it would be acceptable for Jeff to spend a few
days at their place: Tim would be leaving soon on tour, but
had some free time. It was the start of the Easter break,
so Mary agreed. Next morning, she packed Jeff's clothes in
a brown paper bag and drove him to Santa Monica to spend his
most extended period of time with his father.
and Judy lived a few blocks from the beach. As Jeff remembered
it, the following five days - the first week of April 1975
- were largely uneventful. "Easter vacation came around,"
he wrote in 1990. "I went over for a week or so, we made
small talk at dinner, watched cable TV, he bought me a model
airplane on one of our 'outings' ... Nothing much but it was
kind of memorable." Three years later, he recalled it
with much more bitterness: "He was working in his room,
so I didn't even get to talk to him. And that was it."
recalls Jeff telling her that he would dash into Tim's room
every morning and bounce on the bed. At the end of his stay,
Tim and Judy put Jeff on a bus out of Santa Monica, and Mary
picked him up at the bus station in Fullerton. When Jeff stepped
off, she noticed he was clutching a book of matches. On it,
Tim had written his phone number.
Jeff Buckley drowned at the age of thirty in 1997, he not
only left behind a legacy of brilliant music -- he brought
back haunting memories of his father, '60s troubadour Tim
Buckley, a gifted musician who barely knew his son and who
himself died at twenty-eight. Both father and son made transcendent
music that mixed rock, jazz, and folk; both amassed a cadre
of obsessive, adoring fans.
absorbing dual biography -- based on interviews with more
than one hundred friends, family members, and business associates
as well as access to journals and unreleased recordings --
tells for the first time the intriguing, often heartbreaking
story of these two musicians.
offers a new understanding of the Buckleys' parallel lives
-- and tragedies -- while exploring the changing music business
between the '60s and the '90s. Finally, it tells the story
of a father and son, two complex, enigmatic men who died searching
for themselves and each other.
Publisher: Harper Entertainment; (January 23, 2001) Hardcover: