Jeffrey Scott “Jeff” Buckley (November 17, 1966 – May 29, 1997), raised as Scott “Scottie” 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’s manager Herb Cohen, he signed with Columbia, recruited a band, and recorded what would be his only studio album, Grace, in 1994. Rolling Stone considered him one of the greatest singers of all time.
Over the following two 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 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.
Since his death, there have been many posthumous releases of his material, including a collection of four-track demos and studio recordings for his unfinished second album My Sweetheart the Drunk, expansions of Grace, and the Live at Sin-é EP. Chart success also came posthumously: with his famous cover of Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah” he attained his first No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Digital Songs in March 2008 and reached No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart that December. Buckley and his work remain popular and are regularly featured in “greatest” lists in the music press.