Τributes

Jeff Buckley


Jeff Buckley born in Anaheim of sunny California in November 1966 and grown in the southern suburbs of the state discovers music in his childhood. He is the son of the musician Mary Guibert and the singer and song writer Tim Buckley and although he will rarely meet him in his life, their courses run in parallel. He takes the first courses of harmony from his cellist mother who is a fan of Beatles and when he is five years old he begins to discover the magic of guitar. His step father has also an important influence on his musical preferences and initiates him very soon into Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Booker T. and the MG's. At the age of sixteen he enriches his musical hearings with the French musical scene variete listening to Edith Piaf. Multidimensional and without blinders he simultaneously turns to punk and the Afro-American musical scene showing intense admiration for  Bad Brains and the bluesman Robert Johnson respectively.

Usually unwilling to speak for himself, from his own very limited reports to himself, Jeff Buckley says that he is the singer of the “unfulfilled”. Referring to his musical influences he very intelligently takes himself for “the illegitimate child that emanated from the fertilized ovum of Nina Simone and of the four members of the group of Led Zeppelin, which were implanted in the uterus of Edith Piaf, from where he came into life. Then he develops an innocent adolescent flirt with Robert Johnson who rejects him and overwhelmed with grief flew into the arms of Ray Charles whispering his pain, until he falls into a sleep.”

From the book of Daphne A. Brooks, “Grace”.

‘‘Hal, it’s all in there, isn’t it? It’s just all in there. From bouncing around from a Billie Holiday to a Judy Garland to a Bad Brains to goofing on Geddy Lee to bouncing back and doing a Sly or Curtis Mayfield to Hank Williams to Robert Johnson.’’

Steve Berkowitz to Merri Cyr, writer of the book ‘‘A wished for song: A portrait of Jeff Buckley.’’

He completes his studies in the musical college “Musicians Institute” in Los Angeles in 1985 and for the next five years he makes a living outside the music industry. At the same time he participates in various groups playing guitar in Jazz, Reggae, Roots Rock, Heavy Metal styles and doing vocals. In the end of this period, his voice still unshaped, influenced from another era, is ready to bring a revolution in the future.

The vocalist, lyrist and guitarist Jeff Buckley, will not feel a genuine artist until he resorts to the “brutal hands” of New York in February 1990.  With no important opportunities coming up, he returns to Los Angeles and makes his first demo, with the help of Herb Cohen, seeking the attention of the music industry. Devoted to the “idea” of his father he returns to New York a year later and makes his debut in a concert dedicated to Tim Buckley “Greeting from Tim Buckley” avoiding to present his own songs and granting in such a way a tribute to the man who (only) ideologically influenced him.

‘‘I realized I probably wouldn't ever have another chance to pay my respects, no matter what kind of twisted feelings I have about Tim, no matter what kind of pain or anger I have against him--whatever I haven't come to terms with. The fact that I never got to go to his funeral always bothered me. And I thought, I can sink down with this or I can get off it, and then whatever sorts of development I've gone through, at least I've done that.’’

Words of Jeff Buckley, from the book of Daphne A. Brooks, “Grace”

This is his first big step that places him in the music industry. In 1991 he writes the “Grace” and “Mojo Pin” while he gives live performances with many adaptations of songs of artists such as Leonard Cohen, The Smiths, Elton John, Siouxsie Sioux etc. The “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen as adapted by Jeff Buckley creates a sensation, while it does not pass unnoticed the fact that a lot of adaptations of this particular song from modern artists even today are based on the style and tone of Buckley. He creates his first EP which is recorded in 1992 in the Irish pub ‘‘Sin-e’’, a hangout of musical producers and artists, where he used to give concerts gaining esteem and recognition. In 1994 the first and last album of Jeff Buckley is circulated, which includes his own 7 pieces and 3 adaptations.

Contrary to the musicians of that time who lost their lives from abuses, Jeff Buckley drowned on 29th May 1997.

His talent which would have become gigantic, had he created 4-5 albums (as it was the case with REM) certainly needed time to mature. However with nothing more than one live EP, one complete album and various attendances in the albums of other artists, he managed to distinguish himself as one of the most special and important artists, who even today impresses critics and  public.

“I loved seeing it happen to people. I loved people not knowing who he was and then at the end of the show being transfixed and transformed. I loved that. I watched the rabidity of the fans developed. He had the ability to make every person feel, even if it was for one second, that they were the most important person in the universe. It was his way of being able to reach out and touch somebody for one second and thank them, by a touch or a glance, for being a fan and appreciating his music. It was how he gave something back to them’’

Leih Reid to Merri Cyr, writer of the book ‘‘A wished for song: A portrait of Jeff Buckley’’

Eva Koussi 30 November 2010