Introduction and Early Life:
American singer-songwriter and musician Jeff Buckley was one of the most charismatic, talented and mystical figures in the history of rock music. The son of folk-rocker Tim Buckley, he was a powerful, emotive singer who possessed a soaring choir-boy falsetto vocals. Rolling Stone magazine has named Buckley among the greatest singers and alternative artists of all time.
Born “Jeffrey Scott Buckley” into a musical family in Anaheim, California in 1966, his father was an erratic but massively talented folk rock singer-songwriter and guitarist, Tim Buckley. His mother, Mary Guibert, also was a classically trained pianist and cellist. Tim abandoned the family at the age of 18, before his son was born, therefore Jeff was raised in Southern California by his mother and stepfather. He only met his biological father once, at the tender age of eight. Tim died of a drug overdose in 1975.
Jeff brought up listening to classic rock artists such as Led Zeppelin, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and Pink Floyd. He also developed a liking for the progressive rock sound of Rush, Genesis, and Yes. Jeff graduated from high school in 1984, shortly relocating to Hollywood to attend the Musicians Institute, where he studied music theory. Jeff spent the next few years working odd jobs and honing his guitar and singing skills in a number of struggling bands.
Career and Musical Achievements:
After coming to Manhattan, Jeff Buckley first gained popularity when he recorded his father’s song “One I Was” at his father’s tribute concert in 1991. That same year, he started working for an avant-garde band called Gods and Monsters. Buckley shortly embarked on a solo career and made waves on the New York City folk club circuit with his soulful, heart-warming performances.
He rejected several record deals offered by major labels before finally signing with Columbia Records in 1992, and releasing his four-song the Live at Sin-é EP in 1993. Buckley rose to worldwide prominence after the release of his first and only full-length album, Grace, in 1994. Produced by Andy Wallace, the album was an eclectic mix of jazz, rock and R&B influences, and as of 2007, it has sold more than 2 million copies worldwide.
A true musical genius, Buckley was known for his enigmatic stage presence, powerful tenor vocals, rich musical vocabulary, and mystical lyrics. He was recording tracks for his follow-up album at the time of death from an accidental drowning in 1997. A number of emotional tributes were delivered by renowned singers and artists such as Elizabeth Fraser, PJ Harvey, Rufus Wainwright, Chris Cornell, Hole, Coldplay, and Lana Del Rey.
Awards and Accolades:
Jeff Buckley was honored with the “Grand Prix International Du Disque” by the Académie Charles Cros in 1995. He was ranked at number 39 in Rolling Stone’s 2008 list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”.
Jeff Buckley had been notoriously protective about his personal life. He reportedly had romantic relationships with Brenda Kahn, Joan Wasser and Elizabeth Fraser.