- 09 Jan 03
When Jeff Buckley drowned in the Wolf River, Tennessee, five years ago, the world lost a fledgling musical visionary, his lone album Grace becoming a sacred text of loss and unfinished beauty. In his short 29 years on earth, his power and grace touched many, especially his mother Mary Guibert and his former bandmate Gary Lucas.
April 26, 1991: the Greetings From Tim Buckley tribute concert at Saint Ann’s Church, Brooklyn Heights, New York. For Jeff Buckley, it was a night of Oedipal ritual meets Shakespearian drama. It was the night the 24-year-old unknown simultaneously acknowledged his father’s legacy and set about eclipsing it. “In a way, I sacrificed my anonymity for my father, whereas he sacrificed me for his fame,” Buckley later told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Certainly, after the show, he was the talk of downtown.
By the early 1990s, the music of Tim Buckley, ’60s cult legend on a par with Nick Drake and Tim Hardin, was undergoing something of a renaissance following the release of the posthumous live album Dream Letter, plus a remarkable cover version of his ‘Song To The Siren’ by This Mortal Coil.
When Janine Nichols, director of the St Ann’s arts programme, approached ex-Saturday Night Live musical director and noted producer-hipster Hal Willner (architect of albums honouring Mingus, Kurt Weill, Poe, Ginsberg and Burroughs among others) about putting on a Buckley tribute night, few knew he had a son, let alone one with potential equal to his father.