Articles and Interviews
Columbia Australia Sketches Press Release
May 2, 1997
Columbia Australia PR
Jeff Buckley Biography Columbia Records (Australia) Press Release:
Jeff Buckley was born in California’s Orange County in 1966 and died in a tragic drowning accident in Memphis on May 29, 1997. He had emerged in NYC’s avant-garde club scene in the 1990’s as one of the most remarkable musical artists of his generation, acclaimed by audiences, critics, and fellow musicians alike. His first commercial recording, the four song EP Live At Sin-é was released in December 1993 on Columbia Records. The EP captured Buckley, accompanying himself on electric guitar, in a tiny club in new York’s East Village, the neighbourhood he’d made him home.
By the time of the EP’s release during the fall of 1993, Buckley had already entered the studio with Mick Grondahl (bass), Matt Johnson (drummer) and producer Andy Wallace and recorded seven original songs (including “Grace”, “Last Goodbye” and So real) and three covers (among them Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, Benjamin Britten’s “Corpus Christi Carol”) that comprised his debut album Grace. Guitarist Michael Tighe, who cowrote and performed on Grace’s “So Real”, joined Buckley’s ensemble shortly thereafter as a permanent member.
In early 1994, not long after Live At Sin-é appeared in stores, JB toured clubs, lounges and coffeehouses in North America as a solo artists from January 15 – March 5 as well as in Europe from march 11-22. Following extensive rehearsals in April-May 1994, Buckley’s Peyote Radio Theatre Tour found him on the road with his band from June2-August 16. His full length full band album Grace, was released in the US on Aug 23, 1994, the same day Buckley and his band kicked off a European tour in Dublin, Ireland; the 1994 European Tour ran through Sep 22, with JB and Ensemble performing at the CMJ convention at NY’s Supper Club on Sep 24. The group headed back into America’s clublands for a Fall Tour lasting from Oct 19-Dec 18.
On New Year’s Eve 1994-95, JB returned to Sin-é to perform a solo concert; on New Year’s Day, he read an original poem at the annual St. Mark’s Church Marathon Poetry Reading. Two weeks later, he and his band were back in the UK for gigs in Dublin, Bristol and London before launching an extensive tour of Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium and the UK which lasted from Jan29-March 5. On April 13 1995 it was announced that JB’s Grace had earned him France’s prestigious “Gran Prix International Du Disque – Academie Charles CROS 1995”; an award given by a jury of producers, journalists, the president of France Culture, and music industry professionals, it had previously been given to Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Yves Montand, Georges Brassens, Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Joni Mitchell, among other music luminaries. France also awarded Buckley a gold record certification for Grace.
From March 5 through April 20, Buckley and his band rehearsed for an American spring tour with gigs running from April 22-June 2. From June through August, Jeff and co. toured the UK, France, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy an Switzerland. The band took off for Down Under to play six Australian shows between August 28-Sep 6, 1995. In November 1995, Buckley played two unannounced solo shows at Sin-é. He performed on the WXRW Idiot’s Delight show on Dec 17 and celebrated New Year’s Eve 1995-96 with performances at New York’s Mercury Lounge and Sin-é.
JB and his touring ensemble went back to Australia, where Grace had earned a gold record certification, for the Hard Luck Tour, which ran from February 9-March 1, 1996. Drummer Matt Johnson left the group after the final Australian Show. In May of 96, Jeff played four gigs as a bass player with Mind Science of the Mind, a side-project of Buckley’s friend, Nathan Larson of Shudder To Think. In September 96, Buckley played another unannounced solo gig at his old favourite haunt Sin-é. December of 1996 found Jeff Buckley embarking on his “phantom solo tour”, a series of unannounced solo gigs played under a succession of aliases: the Crackrobats, Possessed by Elves, Father Demo, Smackrobiotic, the Halfspeeds, Crit Club, Topless America, Martha and the Nicotines, and A Puppet Show Named Julio.
On February 9, 1997, Jeff Buckley debuted his new drummer Parker Kindred, in a show at Arlene Grocery on NY’s Lower East Side. He also played a couple of solo gigs in NY during the first months of 1997: a gig at the Daydream Cafe (featuring band members Mick Grondahl and Michael Tighe as special guests) and a solo performance Feb 4 as part of the Knitting Factory’s 10 yr Birthday Party.
Buckley and his band had recorded intermittently – with Tom Verlaine as producer – during Summer/Fall 1996 and early winter 1997 in NY and in Feb 1997 in Memphis. After the conclusion of those sessions, Jeff sent the band back to NY while, during march and April 1997, he remained in Memphis and continued to craft his work-in-progress, making various four track home recordings of songs to present to his bandmates. Some of these were revision of the songs recorded with Verlaine, some were brand new compositions, and some were surprising cover versions. The new lineup debuted Buckley’s new songs at Barristers in Memphis on Feb 12 and 13. Beginning March 31, Jeff began a series of regularly scheduled Monday night solo performances at Barrister’s. His last show there was on Monday, May 26, 1997. The night Buckley died, he was on his way to meet his band to begin three weeks of rehearsals for My Sweetheart The Drunk; producer Andy Wallace, who’d helmed the boards on grace, was to join them in Memphis in late June to record his new album.
In addition to his Columbia records releases, Live at the sine and grace, JB has appeared as a guest artists on several other recordings. He can be heard singing Jolly Street a track on the Jazz Passengers 1994 album In Love. He contributed tenor vocals to “Taipan” and “D. Popylepis”, two recordings on “John Zorn’s Cobra Live At The Knitting Factory (1995)”. On Rebecca Moore’s “Admiral Charcoal’s Song”, Buckley plays electric six-string bass on “If You Please Me,” “Outdoor Elevator,” and “Needle Men” (on which he also plays drums). He both plays guitar and sings backup vocals on Brenda Kahn’s “Faith Salons”, a key track on her “Destination Anywhere” album (released 1996). Patti Smiths’ critically acclaimed “Gone Again” album features Buckley adding “Voice” to the song “Beneath the Southern Cross” and “essrage” (a small fretless Indian stringed instrument) to “Fireflies”. On Kicks Joy Darkness, a various artists’ spoken word tribute to beat poet Jack Kerouac, Jeff Buckley collaborated with erstwhile Nymphs’ vocalist Inger Lorre can be heard reading Edgar Allan Poe’s “Ulallume – a Ballad”, on “Closed on Account of Rabies (Poems & Tales by Edgar Allan Poe) on Mouth Almighty/Mercury Records. He performed with his friends in Shudder To Think on the soundtrack to “First Love, Last Rites”.
An ardent enthusiast for a myriad of musical forms, Jeff Buckley was an early champion among young American musicians for the work of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the world’s foremost Qawwali (the music of the Sufis) singer. Buckley conducted an extensive interview with Nusrat in Interview magazine (Jan 1996) and wrote the liner notes for Nusrat’s “The Supreme Collection” album, released on Mercator/Caroline Records in August 1997.