Tim Buckley

In June 1975, the musical world lost one of its most creative and

talented forces, when singer/songwriter Tim Buckley overdosed from a

snort of heroin and morphine that he believed was cocaine.

Though Buckley was far from a star, he had released a number of albums,

highlighting his multi-octave voice and romantic, melancholy songs.

Buckley was born 52 years ago in Washington, DC. He began playing music

on the Orange County, Calif., folk scene, where Mothers of Invention

drummer Jimmy Carl Black introduced him to Frank Zappa's manager, Herb


Cohen secured a contract for Buckley with Elektra Records, which issued

Tim Buckley in 1967. The debut attracted some critical attention

with its opaque lyrical imagery and keen melodic sense. Goodbye and

Hello followed later that year and was produced by the Lovin'

Spoonful's Jerry Yester, who also played on Buckley's early LPs, along

with Jim Fielder, Van Dyke Parks and Lee Underwood.

Goodbye and Hello was more psychedelic than its predecessor and

became the only Buckley album that appeared on

Billboard's 200 albums chart. It featured such titles as


music/Buckley,_Tim/Pleasant_Street.ram">"Pleasant Street"

(RealAudio excerpt), "Morning Glory" and "No Man Can Find the War."

Buckley began making avant-garde jazz, a shift that was evident on

1969's Happy Sad. Following that LP, his music became even more

experimental; he blew any chance of commercial success. This evolution

was quickened by the induction of Buckley's early co-writer, Larry

Beckett, into the Army. Many succeeding songs, without Beckett's

restraint, were devoid of lyrics and consisted of Buckley's voice

screaming and moaning to music. Lorca (1970) was particularly

vilified by fans and critics for its abstract tracks.

Buckley released the more traditionally pop-folk Blue Afternoon

around the same time as Lorca, but two albums in the marketplace

at once didn't help his fortunes with the record-buying public.

Starsailor (1971) was cited by some critics as an effective blend

of Buckley's early folk and later jazz experiments. In concert, the

Buckley of this period was known to improvise and shriek and to

encourage his backing musicians to jam endlessly.

Buckley's last few LPs, including 1974's Sefronia and Look at

the Fool, combined funk music with suggestive lyrics. After Buckley

died in 1975, the owner of the house in which he overdosed was convicted

of involuntary manslaughter.

Many music lovers became aware of Buckley's eclectic catalogue after his

death, starting a cult of sorts. Posthumous LPs included 1990's Dream

Letter (Live in London, 1968) and 1995's Honeyman.

Buckley's son, Jeff, who was too young to know his father well, began

his career in 1994. After a few efforts, including 1994's lauded

Grace, Jeff Buckley -- who possessed a voice and writing ability

strikingly similar to his father's -- drowned in 1997.

Rarely has the music world felt such tragic losses of talent from the

same family.

Other birthdays: Vic Briggs (Animals), 54; Roger Fisher (ex-Heart), 49;

and Ice-T, 40.