September 2, 2012

05/29/97: Jeff Buckley, 31, Memphis, TN

Jeff Buckley
Jeffrey Scott "Jeff" Buckley, 31, was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist and son of folk and jazz musician Tim Buckley. After a decade in the music business and amassing loyal following of fans, he signed with Columbia Records, recruited a band, and recorded the album, Grace.

On the evening of May 29, 1997, Buckley was in Memphis after enjoying a warm 84 degree day when he spontaneously decided to go swimming in Wolf River Harbor, a slackwater channel of the Mississippi River. A roadie in Buckley's band, Keith Foti, remained on shore. Buckley had gone swimming there several times before, but this time, he was still wearing boots, all of his clothing, and singing the chorus of the song "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin. As a tugboat passed by, Foti decided to move a radio and guitar further back on the shore. When he looked at the water again, he saw that Buckley had vanished, presumably after being caught in the wake of the tugboat.

Despite a determined rescue effort, Buckley was not found until June 4, when two locals spotted his body in the Mississippi River near a riverboat. Buckley's autopsy showed no signs of drugs or alcohol in his system and the death was ruled as an accidental drowning.

The Buckley estate released a statement that reads, "Jeff Buckley's death was not "mysterious," related to drugs, alcohol, or suicide. We have a police report, a medical examiner's report, and an eye witness to prove that it was an accidental drowning, and that Mr. Buckley was in a good frame of mind prior to the accident."

Wolf River Harbor 2006. Looking south down Wolf River Harbor with downtown Memphis, Tennessee, on the left, Mud Island on the right, and the Mississippi River in the extreme upper-right corner.


Wikipedia. Accessed 9/2/12 from

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