The Tim Buckley Archives


Judy Buckley Llewellyn - Memories of Tim

Room 109 Interview - 2000

by Jack Brolly

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct the following interview with Tim’s wife Judy. She answered my questions on audio tape and Judy’s husband Llew transcribed them for us. For that I am deeply appreciative. I know what it’s like to transcribe from tape to keyboard and it can be a trying experience. I’d also like to thank Llew for all his help with the editing as well.

Thank you for participating in our forum, Judy. I’d like to begin by asking you, when and under what circumstances did you and Tim meet?

The very first time I met Tim, my first husband Darrell and I were introduced by our mutual friend Molly LeMay, who brought him to our house. That was when he first started his career I guess. He wore love beads and had a great big bushy Afro.

What did you think of him?

I didn’t. I thought that perhaps he was a homeless person with his guitar strapped on his back. I had my baby (Taylor) and my dog and stuff. Molly knew a lot of strange people.

So, when did you begin to take an interest in each other?

He wrote to me after I got out of the hospital.
(Note: Judy was hospitalized for an extensive period after an automobile accident in Mexico that claimed the life of her archeologist husband Darrell Sutcliffe. Their son Taylor was slightly injured)

Molly had been in touch with my dad in 1969, about a year and a half after I recovered and my dad arranged for me to come out to California for a vacation. Tim came to Molly’s house and he had changed. We were both a bit older and he was very bright and we took long walks on the beach, just talking as friends.

We would walk up as far as his friend Dan Gordon’s house, but we wouldn’t go in, we would just talk. He took me to see Ray Charles. I wanted to pay for the tickets, I felt bad for him. I had no idea that he had any money. He just had these funny old corduroy pants and this holey sweater.

You weren’t aware of his success?

No. I hadn’t listened to any of his music. We would go to this great little jazz club on the beach in Santa Monica, in an old hotel that was on the boardwalk. It had an amazing jukebox and he would sit in with some of the people there at times with that incredible voice, doing old standards, but I didn’t hear him play or anything and he never had lots of music people around him.

He told me that he had a band, and they had been to Europe. I just ended up spending time with him. He had this great little Arts and Crafts house with nothing in it except his guitars and a tape machine… the kind with the big reels. Miles Davis’ In A Silent Way on it and that was it.

There were no chairs or sofas or carpets, no pictures or paintings. There was a table and chairs in the dining room and in the bedroom there was a bed. He did talk about how he was married when he was young and his little boy.

We went out to eat and listened to that Miles Davis tape, which was all he would listen to. We went to all kinds of jazz and blues clubs. I had no idea that there were so many. We took cabs because he didn’t have a car. I remember going downtown somewhere and we walked into a club and Carmen McRae started singing Bye-Bye White Bird and I wanted to leave. Tim said: “Let’s have one drink and then we’ll leave.”

You ended up staying?

Yes, because he broke the ice by ordering a drink. I heard that song and I was ready to go.

Poor Molly, I went to a concert and she never saw me again! No one did. After about three weeks I left and went back to Taylor. Tim wanted to talk about the future and wanted me to come right back, but we made an agreement not to talk for three months.

My dad… I had told my father that I had spent those weeks there with Tim and he went out to see if he could find an album, because that’s what this guy said he did. He did find “Blue Afternoon” and brought it home and I was blown away! I was really surprised. It was quite nice.

It was strange because it was three months to the day, I realized that I had been keeping track, that morning the phone rang and my father went to answer it and I said, “I think that it’s for me…” I just knew.

Taylor came back with me to LA for a “trial run”. I had met Tim’s mom Elaine, and she just wanted to make wedding plans! Taylor was about six and a half years old and at the airport he was testy. He remembered his father, He was getting defensive, even though he was small when everything had happened. Elaine told him that we were already married and he called her Grandma from the very beginning.

It was strange (at the beginning). Taylor and Tim would go down to the beach and Taylor would kick sand at Tim and pull away from him and wouldn’t let him touch him. Tim rented one of those VW vans because he thought Taylor would like it. Taylor would be so awful to him, but when Tim went to leave, Taylor would have hidden the car keys in his room, so Tim couldn’t leave. It was amazing to watch. He didn’t want him to go.

Part of me started to fall in love with this guy who was giving so much love to my child. The light bulb came on and I knew! He made me laugh again, he showed me that the heart doesn’t forget, but it can make room for someone else.


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