The Tim Buckley Archives

Recollections

1999

June 29, 1975 - Tim Buckley dies at the age of 28

by Unknown

Tim Buckley said in April 1975: "We're in the habit of emulating those pure voices when they're dead."

Three months later Buckley was dead. The Los Angeles County coroner's office determined that Buckley was the victim of "acute heroin-morphine and ethanol intoxication." Overdose. His longtime frend Richard Keeling was charged with murder under California law for having allegedly furnished the drugs that caused the death. The drug charge was subsequently dropped and Keeling pleaded guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter. He served 120 days.

The death shocked Buckley's friends, family and associates, but the autopsy puzzled them; heroin had never played a big part in his diet. The coroner declared that Buckley was no addict.

One thing he wasn't was a pop star in the accepted definition of either word. His albums weren't big sellers, even in the relatively scaled-down record business of the late '60 s: At the height of his fame he barely cracked Billboard's Top 100. Singles.

But Tim Buckley's importance can't be measured in chart placings or dollar amounts. He lived his life almost in defiance of such standards. If he paid the price for his rebelliousness, he also left an enduring legacy.

Between 1966 and 1975 Buckley released nine albums that could have been recorded by no one else. Buckley put his vocal virtuosity in the service of an artistic vision that showed little consistency beyond a restless searching, an impatience with the present. The sadness in his voice reinforced the heroic futility of his music. His was the sound of defenselessness.

Buckley outlived his friend Jim Morrison by nine months. But while the media keep resurrecting the Lizard King, the equally photogenic Buckley has proven harder to exploit.

If you listen to the Jeff Buckley Grace and the folk-rock LP Goodbye and Hello from Tim, you know what a great loss the Buckleys are to popular music.

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