Daily Telegraph (Australia)
end for talented music man Tim Buckley
June 1975, after having just played to a sold-out crowd in
Dallas on the last show of a successful tour,
musician Tim Buckley went home to Los Angeles and invited
himself to his friend Richard Keeling’s place to celebrate.
Buckley had already been drinking heavily but when Keeling
produced a bag of heroin, the singer snorted some but had
a bad reaction to the drug.
took him home and his partner Judy put him to bed. Concerned
at his erratic breathing, she later found that he wasn’t breathing
at all. Despite attempts to revive him by friends and an ambulance
crew, he was pronounced dead on arrival at Santa Monica hospital.
It seemed like the cliche end of a rock star, dying from a
drug overdose, leaving debts and unreleased material in his
wake. But at least one cliche he had avoided was joining the
“27 Club” — he was only 28 at the time.
never a superstar while alive, his reputation has grown over
the years and most of his nine studio albums are considered
works of art by other musicians. They also speak of enormous
potential that was perhaps unrealised. If it hadn’t been for
his untimely early demise, Buckley would have turned 70 today.
Charles Buckley was born on Valentine’s Day, 1947, in Amsterdam,
New York, the son of Elaine, an Italian American, and Timothy
Buckley II, a highly awarded World War II veteran. His earliest
exposure to music was from his mother who listened to some
of the greats of progressive jazz, including Miles Davis and
John Coltrane, and was also a fan of some of the great voices
of the age such as Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland.
family moved to California in 1956 and Buckley discovered
a talent for singing. At the age of 13 he taught himself banjo
and played in a country music band before forming his own
folk music band with schoolmates. An accident playing football
left him with injured fingers that limited his ability to
play guitar, but he found ways around it, which contributed
to his unique playing style.
a high school French class in 1965 he met Mary Guibert, who
became the inspiration behind some of his early songs. Tim
later went to Fullerton Junior College, but dropped out after
two months to concentrate on his music, working at a restaurant
by day and playing gigs at night. After Mary discovered she
was pregnant, the two married in October 1965, much to his
father’s annoyance. He told them the marriage wouldn’t last
six months. Shortly
after the wedding Mary discovered that she wasn’t pregnant,
but the marriage soon began to unravel regardless.
the beginning of 1966 Buckley and his band were taken under
the wing of Herb Cohen, manager of Frank Zappa and the Mothers
of Invention, who got Buckley better gigs and a recording
contract. He released his debut self-titled album in August
1966. But when Mary really became pregnant the pressure of
becoming a father was too much for Buckley, he left home,
the couple divorced in October and in November 1966 she gave
birth to his son Jeff.
sound evolved over the course of several albums including
Goodbye and Hello in 1967, Happy Sad (1969), Lorca and Starsailor
(both in 1970), and Greetings From LA (1972). Although his
albums were highly regarded (he was, however, his own worst
critic and thought little of his early albums) he never had
a lot of commercial success during his life.
after an appearance on the last episode of popular TV series
The Monkees set him up as a potential teen idol, he rejected
that kind of stardom and changed musical direction moving
from his folk rock origins to more jazz and funk alienating
his folk admirers. A funk and soul-influenced period followed
but his albums were commercial flops.
1975 he signalled a return to some of his more popular material
at concerts, but after his sellout show in Dallas his life
was cut short. His albums would gain a cult following and
interest was revived when his son Jeff began making a name
for himself in the early ’90s. But just as Jeff’s star was
on the rise in 1997 he drowned in the Mississippi after taking
a spontaneous swim fully clothed. He was only 30.
Tim and Jeff, once considered musician’s musicians are now
revered by a growing fanbase, especially after the 2012 film
Greetings From Tim Buckley, which starred Penn Badgley as
Jeff and Ben Rosenfield as Tim.