Buckley began playing while in high school. Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles to study music; while he was there, he performed with several jazz and funk bands, as well as playing with Shinehead
, a leader in the dancehall reggae movement. A few years later, he moved to New York, forming Gods & Monsters with the experimental guitarist Gary Lucas
. The band became a hip name, yet its lifespan was short. Buckley began a solo career playing clubs and coffee houses, building up a considerable following. Soon, he signed a record deal with Columbia Records
, releasing the Live at Sin-e EP in November of 1993. It received good reviews, yet they didn't compare to the raves Buckley's full-length debut, 1994's Grace, received. Unlike the EP, the album was recorded with a full band, which gave the record textures that surprised some of his longtime New York followers. Nevertheless, it made several year-end "Best of 1994" lists and earned him a belated alternative hit, "Last Goodbye," in the spring of 1995.
A long hiatus followed as Buckley worked on material for his follow-up effort, provisionally titled My Sweetheart the Drunk. Originally slated to be produced by Tom Verlaine
, who later dropped out of the project, Buckley finally began work on the record in Memphis during the late spring of 1997. On the night of May 29, he and a friend traveled to the local Mud Island Harbor, where Buckley spontaneously decided to go swimming in the Mississippi River and waded into the water fully clothed. A few minutes later, he disappeared under the waves; authorities were quickly contacted, but to no avail -- on June 4, his body was finally found floating near the city's famed Beale Street area. Buckley was 30 years old. A collection of unreleased recordings, Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk, appeared in 1998, and two live albums arrived during 2000-2001, Mystery White Boy and Live a l'Olympia. Over the next decade and a half, other posthumous records appeared -- the compilation So Real: Songs from Jeff Buckley in 2007, the live album Grace Around the World in 2009 -- but the biggest excavation from the vaults was 2016's You and I, which presented cover versions the singer/songwriter had recorded early in his career. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi