Jeff Buckley‘s manager has spoken out about the musician’s last weeks and getting the call telling him the star had disappeared into the Mississippi River.
Buckley died on May 29, 1997, after going for a spontaneous swim in the river. His body was found upstream in Memphis a few days later. He was 30 years old at the time.
Speaking to NPR’s Talia Schlanger, his former manager Dave Lory said the musician had been “acting erratic” in the two weeks before his death. “He was trying to buy a house that wasn’t for sale,” Lory said. “He was trying to buy a car that wasn’t for sale. He proposed to Joan [Wasser, Buckley’s girlfriend]. He even applied for a job to be a butterfly keeper at Memphis Zoo – a lot of weird stuff that was uncharacteristic for him. I think it was a yearning to settle down. He wanted a normal life.”
Lory, who has written a book about his experience of managing Buckley, also recounted getting the phone call telling him of the star’s accident. “It was 5:58 – I’ll never forget the time – in the morning,” he said. “I was in Dublin so that meant it must have been almost one AM in New York and midnight in Memphis. I just froze. I thought I was having a dream. I dropped the phone and you don’t know what to do. Thank god there was no internet cos it would have been tweeted off the banks. You just go numb. I was totally numb, no emotion.”
The manager returned to Memphis and went to the river three days after the accident, before Buckley’s body had been found. He said he spent the first 15 minutes he was there crying and the next 15 minutes throwing “rocks in the water and I said, ‘How dare you leave me with this pile of you know what.'”
Of the likelihood of Buckley still being alive before his body had been found, Lory said he “knew right away” that he was dead. He also told a story about visiting a psychic outside of London six years after Buckley’s death, who said: “A Jeff or a John is trying to get a hold of you, it has something to do with water.” “She told me things only Jeff and I knew,” he said, explaining that he had given her a bracelet of Buckley’s to hold. “Towards the end, she said, ‘Is this is his bracelet?’ and I said, ‘Yes’. She said, ‘Well, I don’t know if this makes sense, but he didn’t mean for it to happen, but he didn’t fight it. It’s not your fault. It’s okay to let go.'”
Lory’s book, titled Jeff Buckley: From Hallelujah To The Last Goodbye, will be published on May 29. It was co-authored by Jim Irvin, and Lory will embark on a book tour this summer. In the UK and Ireland, he will appear at the following events:
Dublin, Olympia Theatre (September 17)
Manchester, Band On The Wall (18)
London, Bush Hall (19)
Birmingham, Glee Club Studio (20)