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
href="http://media.addict.com/atn-bin/get- 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
Other birthdays: Vic Briggs (Animals), 54; Roger Fisher (ex-Heart), 49;
and Ice-T, 40.