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Student News Site of Hinsdale South High School

Stinger

Student News Site of Hinsdale South High School

Stinger

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Remembering Jeff Buckley

Grace+CDphotographed+by+Carolina+Ortiz
“Grace” CDphotographed by Carolina Ortiz

Acclaimed singer and songwriter, Jeff Buckley would have been 57 this November 17. Known most widely for his renowned cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, the 90s singer released just one album before his untimely passing at only 30 years old. “Grace,” Buckley’s sole album, stands as his legacy, gaining popularity among fans over the years. Buckley’s unfinished sophomore album, “Sketches For My Sweetheart the Drunk,” was released by his mother following his death. Additionally, several compilations of live performances and demo recordings have been released in recent years, such as “You and I” and “Live At Sine-é,” which showcase Buckley’s unique voice and incredible skill.

It could be said that music ran in Buckley’s family, as his father was well renowned 60s folk singer, Tim Buckley, and his mother, Mary Guibert, a classically trained pianist and cellist. Buckley grew up in Anaheim, California, living with his mother and stepfather, Ron Moorehead. Through his early years, Buckley was initially known as Scottie Moorehead, using his middle name and stepfather’s surname. Buckley’s own father, Tim, faced an untimely death at the age of 28 due to a drug overdose. Although he had only met his father once, Buckley chose to take his father’s surname following his death.

Buckley was introduced to music at an early age, his stepfather introducing him to rock musicians such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Queen. Upon graduating from high school, he enrolled in a year-long course at the Musicians Institute, although noting that it was “the biggest waste of time.” Following that, he spent several years playing guitar in several unsuccessful bands, exploring a wide array of genres ranging from jazz to heavy metal.

Buckley made his official debut as a singer at “Greetings from Tim Buckley,” a tribute concert for his father. Buckley told Rolling Stone, “I used that show to pay my last respects.” Buckley’s performance at the concert left a strong first impression. He began performing at small clubs and cafes, his concerts possessing a personal and intimate feel. He portrayed himself as humble and down-to-earth, with his poetic lyrics resonating in the hearts of many.

Buckley began to amass a following and gained attention from record labels, striking a deal with Columbia Records for almost a million dollars. He began recording his first album, “Grace”, in 1993, along with his band-mates, bassist Mick Grøndahl and drummer Matt Johnson. “Grace” was released on August 23, 1994, featuring seven original songs and three covers, one of which being “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, often regarded as “Buckley’s best” and one of the best renditions of the song. Other songs, such as “Lover You Should’ve Come Over” and “Mojo Pin,” highlight Buckley’s impressive vocal range, capable of belting powerfully with full force and effortlessly transitioning to soft, gentle tones.

On May 29, 1997, Buckley tragically passed away at the height of his popularity, accidentally drowning in the Mississippi River. Buckley’s autopsy showed no signs of drugs or alcohol in his system, and a statement was published denying the possibility of suicide. His death was mourned by many, with several artists dedicating songs to him as tributes. In an interview, Buckley stated, “I don’t really need to be remembered.” I hope the music’s remembered.” Buckley’s influence is still present years after his death, as he has been cited as an inspiration by many artists, including Radiohead, Lana Del Rey, and Adele.

Buckley remains an influential artist, with his soulful voice and lyrics still enjoyed by fans to this day. Although his death was a tragedy, his music lives on, solidifying him as one of the greatest artists of his generation.

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About the Contributor
Salam Bouso, Arts Editor
Salam Bouso is a Senior at Hinsdale South, and is the Arts Editor for Stinger. She decided to join Stinger in her sophomore year to improve her writing skills and explore interesting topics. Outside of school, Salam enjoys drawing and reading, hoping to one day publish a graphic novel of her own! A fun fact about Salam is that she has been playing the guitar for 6 years! 

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    Marta MannFeb 23, 2024 at 7:09 am

    So sad to read that Jeff Buckley is no longer with us. Just watched a Netflix movie, One Day, where Lilac Wine was one of the pieces of music. I loved it so much, had to Google who was the singer. So sad to read he had died. As he requested in an interview, his music lives. RIP.

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