The Tim Buckley Archives

The Fans

A Personal Recollection

by Rebop

I was lucky to know Tim Buckley from 1967 to 1975, the year he died. I knew him from his early hippy days to his wiser and more jaded rocker / jazz / avant garde days. Any views here are my own perceptions, and not necessarily the entire truth. I loved Timmy, but was able to see some of his flaws, too. I thought we'd always be friends and was devastated by his untimely but not unexpected death.

The first weekend I spent with Timmy, in November, 1967, he told me he wouldn't live past 30. And he seemed to believe it. I expected a plane crash might take him from us, because of all his traveling. But I'm not surprised by what happened since I knew him to sometimes be reckless and foolish.

There was a wise old man and a little boy all in one package. When he was caught in a lie, he'd look all sheepish like a little kid. In general, he seemed to be on an emotional high wire.

I have some beautiful memories of Timmy. Shuffling through the fall leaves, holding hands, taking a long walk in the countryside. Watching a football game, but not really watching. Carrying his special twelve-string guitar for him before a gig, through the woods at Swarthmore. Listening to gospel music emanating from a church in Bryn Mawr. Sitting in the aisle with him at the Fillmore East watching Janis Joplin perform, which made us both high. She was amazing that night. (Bill Graham got upset with Tim when he tuned up backstage during another opening act, Albert King.) We shopped on Newbury Street in Boston. He turned me on to music like Yma Sumac and Roland Kirk. He was my touchstone and my cheerleader, although he wasn't always cheerful.

We first met when he was playing a small club in Bryn Mawr, PA one Friday night in the fall of 1967. My friend knew his conga player, Carter C.C. Collins, so we stopped by to say hello. When Timmy entered the dressing room, I was shy and left, and Timmy followed me. We took a walk and had a long talk, and that night he took me back to Bryn Mawr College, and asked if I would wake him up the next morning at Swarthmore College where he was staying in one of the dorm rooms.

I asked him how his son was. He began to talk about Taylor, his adopted son, and I said, no I meant Jeffrey. Timmy told me he hadn't seen him, but that there would be plenty of time when Jeffrey was older...

I did just that. We spent the rest of the weekend together (and no, what you probably assume happened didn't that weekend). I fell under his spell. Timmy had incredible charisma, and a sweetness and vulnerability that were irresistible. He told me he was going to pick me up in a Rambler, if my memory serves, and take me to Mexico, which I didn't believe, of course.

I loved hugging him hello after not seeing him for some time. His warm grin, welcoming me, made me feel at home. Timmy trusted me and knew where I was coming from, so he felt comfortable with me. I was a lab assistant doing research in molecular biology, and Timmy wanted to know what I was working on in some detail. Though he was very smart, I doubt he understood what I told him, but he was really curious.

I think my favorite memory of all is Timmy sitting on a chair, playing his guitar, singing Dylan's I'll Be Your Baby Tonight to me with no one else around. It was incredibly sweet....

I'm sorry I can't share all my memories here, but even after all this time has passed, it still doesn't seem right to talk about many private moments.

The last time I was with him was around Thanksgiving, in 1974, I believe. He called me in Boston from Phili and asked me to come down to see him because he was feeling down. So I changed my plans and took the train and arrived exhausted.

During that visit, I asked him how his son was. He began to talk about Taylor, his adopted son, and I said, no I meant Jeffrey. Timmy told me he hadn't seen him, but that there would be plenty of time when Jeffrey was older (he was around eight at the time). I conveyed how I felt about that, letting him know that I didn't think he should wait to get to know his son, and left it at that. Jeffrey was on the back burner, and I believe it was because Timmy spent so much emotional energy handling his own life that he hadn't been able to give Jeffrey the attention he deserved.

Timmy was on that tightrope and his focus was on not falling off. Also, his own father was not a good role model. Timmy told me he was in a prison for the criminally insane, which I never believed. Instead, I thought it was a metaphor to describe their strange relationship. In our very first conversation, around Jeff's first birthday, he told me he had a son, and he was thrilled about it. So it's so sad he didn't get to know Jeff. I know that he intended to do just that. But time was not his friend.

The last time we spoke, a few months before his death, he had just finished a European tour and said he was exhausted. I told him to get a checkup, that he could be anemic. I asked him what was next, meaning in his career, and he said, "cardiac arrest". Tragically, his dark humor spoke the truth.

When a mutual friend told me what happened, I couldn't believe it. When I did, after going to the library and reading newspaper reports, I read the books Timmy had me reading to try to understand what he would think about his own death. Over and over, I read Carlos Fuentes' The Death of Artemia Cruz, a book he loved, trying to come to terms with his death somehow.

I read Timmy's copy of You Can't Go Home Again, to again try to get inside his head. And Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness. And a poet he liked, William Everson. Of course, there were no answers there, but I feel sure that Timmy would have had a dark sense of humor about it all.

And that's how I always think about him......smiling that wonderful smile.

© Rebop

This website formerly used Adobe Shockwave , Adobe Flash, and Photodex Presenter to play photo slideshows.

Browsers no longer support these players as of January 12, 2021.
Please excuse limited navigation and missing audio files while modifications are being made.


Home Contact us About The Archives

Unless otherwise noted
Entire contents © 1966 - 2021 The Estate of Timothy C Buckley III
All rights reserved.