Like Father, Like Son: Tim and Jeff Buckley

Time again for the next segment of Like Father, Like Son. If you recall, in the first segment, we talked about Willie & Lukas Nelson. In the last segment, we talked about Leonard & Adam Cohen. Today, we’re going to talk about yet another musical family.

Today’s post is about Tim Buckley and his son Jeff Buckley.

Timothy Charles "Tim" Buckley III (February 14, 1947 – June 29, 1975) was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. His music and style changed considerably through the years; he began his career based in folk music, but his subsequent albums experimented with jazz, psychedelia, funk, soul, the avant-garde and an evolving "voice as instrument" sound. Though he did not find commercial success during his lifetime, Buckley is admired by later generations for his innovation as a musician and vocal ability. He died at the age of 28 from a heroin overdose.

Buckley's death shocked many of his friends and relatives. The drug-related death was in stark contrast to how people had seen him; the sound recorder at Buckley's last show noted that "someone offered him a drag off of a joint and he refused. He didn't appear strung out in any way. He was very together both physically and psychologically." Some friends were left dazed by the situation. Buckley's old tour manager, Bob Duffy, stated: "It wasn't expected but it was like watching a movie, and that was its natural ending."

On June 28, 1975, Buckley completed the last show of a tour in Dallas, playing to a sold out crowd of 1,800 people. He celebrated the culmination of the tour with a weekend of drinking with his band and friends, as was his normal routine. On the evening of June 29, 1975, Buckley accompanied longtime friend Richard Keeling back to his house. What happened next is unclear, but at some point Keeling produced a bag of heroin, which Buckley ingested.

Buckley's reaction to the heroin put him in such a bad condition that friends took him home. Upon his return, his wife Judy, seeing his inebriated state, laid him on the living-room floor and questioned his friends as to what had happened. Judy then moved Buckley into bed. Checking on him later, she found he had turned blue and was no longer breathing. Attempts by friends and paramedics to revive him were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The coroner's report stated that Buckley died at 9:42pm on June 29, 1975, from "acute heroin/morphine and ethanol intoxication due to inhalation and ingestion of overdose".

Given the circumstances of his death, police charged Richard Keeling with murder and distribution of heroin. At his hearing on August 14, 1975, Keeling pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and, after failing to complete community service, was sentenced to 120 days in jail and four years probation.

Buckley died in debt, owning only a guitar and an amplifier. Some 200 friends and family attended his funeral at the Wilshire Funeral Home in Santa Monica, including manager Herb Cohen, guitarist Lee Underwood, Buckley's mother, sister, widow, and adopted son, Taylor. His biological son Jeff, who was eight years old at the time, and had met his father only once, was not invited to the funeral. This, he later said, "gnawed" at him, and prompted him to "pay his respects" by performing "I Never Asked to Be Your Mountain" at a memorial tribute to Buckley in Brooklyn, in 1991, six years before his own accidental death.

Jeffrey Scott "Jeff" Buckley (November 17, 1966 – May 29, 1997), raised as Scott Moorhead, was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. After a decade as a session guitarist in Los Angeles, Buckley amassed a following in the early 1990s by playing cover songs at venues in Manhattan's East Village, such as Sin-é, gradually focusing more on his own material. After rebuffing much interest from record labels and his father Tim Buckley's manager Herb Cohen, he signed with Columbia, recruited a band, and recorded what would be his only studio album, Grace, in 1994. In 2004, Rolling Stone listed him at number 39 on their list of greatest singers of all time.

Over the following three years, the band toured widely to promote the album, including concerts in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Australia. In 1996, they stopped touring and made sporadic attempts to record Buckley's second album in New York City with Tom Verlaine as producer. In 1997, Buckley moved to Memphis, Tennessee, to resume work on the album, to be titled My Sweetheart the Drunk, recording many four-track demos while also playing weekly solo shows at a local venue. On May 29, 1997, while awaiting the arrival of his band from New York, he drowned during a spontaneous evening swim, fully clothed, in the Mississippi River when he was caught in the wake of a passing boat; his body was found on June 4.

That wraps it up for today’s post about Tim and Jeff Buckley.  Are there any other parent child musicians that you would like to learn about or hear their music? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. Mary,

    I've seen Tim and his son's names floating around but I don't recall their songs. I was 14 years old Papa Burkley died. Nothing good ever comes from drug use and it saddens me to read such tragic stories. Swimming at night in a large open body of water never sounded liked a good idea. I imagine all sorts of horrible things going wrong. That's interesting to learn that both father and son died so young. There's only 3 years separating their ages at their deaths. Isn't that weird? Thanks for sharing. I'm trying to figure out a good slot next month to generate the third part of my similar series and I have two artists' in mind. Have a good day and I'll see ya around the cyberblock, my friend!

    1. Thanks, Cathy!

      I thought the coincidence of their ages when they died was interesting as well. I've got a few names on my list for upcoming posts, but havent written any of them yet. I've been lazy. I'm sure I'll come up with something soon. See you on Monday for the battles!


  2. Strange parallels between the lives of this father and son, but they make a double impact on the history of rock and pop. Not sure why anyone would want to swim in the Mississippi River. That body of water seems like it could be rather polluted aside from being muddy and unpredictable.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    1. I definitely agree with you, Lee!

      One would be hard pressed to find me swimming in that river. It would be like wanting to swim in Lake Erie. Thanks for stopping by!


  3. This is the first time I've heard about Tim and Jeff Buckley. Awesome post!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kristel

      I'm glad that I could share something new with you.


  4. reminds me that life is so very short never know when our light will be put out. I loved reading about the Buckley's thanks for sharing
    come see us at


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