Covert War Against Tim Buckley?

Buckley: “The song ‘Goodbye and Hello’ was not played on any radio stations at all. ‘No Man Can Find The War’ was not played. ‘Pleasant Street’ and ‘Morning Glory’ were played. But all the political things were carefully screened by whoever it is, the CIA or FBI or the program directors, whoever it is that keeps the information flow not going out to the people. I thought they were terrifically entertaining songs but they were not allowed to reach mass proportions. And I dare say, today they wouldn't be either. "Bye bye, Miss American Pie/Drove my Chevy to the levee..." Somehow, that song's about John Kennedy's assassination. If you have to do it that way, you might as well send codes..."

“I don't regret doing the political trip; I just regret that the American people haven't been told anything. And now, the paranoia is becoming real; it's real great for a lot of us to know that what we were fearing in those days was right.”

Goldmine: So we find out 10 years later that the CIA really was spying on a lot of people back in the '60s.

Buckley: Right (laughs). Now that we're off the streets and demobilized, it's okay to tell us. ...


Tim Buckley : The High Flyer

By Martin Aston/MOJO Magazine

Judy doesn't recall any drug abuse. Nor does she remember Tim driving a cab, chaffeuring Sly Stone or studying ethnomusicology at UCLA, as the singer often claimed at the time. Instead, she recalls Tim reading voraciously, catching up with his favourite Latin American writers at the UCLA library, and channelling his creative urges into acting.

The unreleased 1971 cult film Why? starring OJ Simpson was shot during this period. "It was their first film but both Tim and OJ were incredible actors. The camera loved them," remembers co-star Linda Gillen. "Tim had this James Dean quality. He's so handsome in the movie and yet such a mess! You know those Brat Pack kind of films, where people play prefabricated rebels who see themselves as kinda bad but they have a PR taking care of business? Well, Tim was the real deal. He didn't give a fuck how he looked or dressed. He had no hidden agenda. He had an incredible naivety.

"We used to improvise in the film. Tim's character talks to the effect that you can't commit suicide. You can't amend your feelings for other people; you have to find that thing that's good in you and keep that alive. A lot of the group had been onto my character about taking heroin but Tim would always be the sympathetic one. But that was Tim. He'd understand where they were coming from, why they would do what they did.

"On the set, I used to hum to myself to fight off boredom and Tim would pick up on what I was humming, like Miss Otis Regrets, and we'd end up harmonising together," she continues. "I loved Fred Neil, and asked if he knew Dolphins, which he sung for me. He'd say, 'They got to Fred Neil, don't let it happen to you'. He'd talk in this strange, paranoid, ominous way, about 'the man'. That night, we went to buy Fred's album and bypassed Tim's on the was! He never hustled his records to me; he wasn't a self-promoter.

"I wondered why Tim was working on this schleppy movie, because I knew people like Roger McGuinn who were making millions, and he said, very silently, 'I need the money'. We were only earning $420 a week on the film, and I said, Is that all the money you have right now? and he said, 'No, I'm getting a song covered,' which I think was Gypsy Woman which Neil Diamond was going to do."

Meanwhile, the comedic plot of his unfilmed screenplay Fully Air-Conditioned Inside was based on a struggling musician who blows up an audience called for old songs and makes his escape tucked beneath the wings of a vulture, singing My Way...

"We saw a lot of him over the years as disillusionment set in," said Clive Selwood, who, inspired by Buckley's session for BBC's John Peel Show, later founded the Strange Fruit label and its Peel Sessions. "When we first met, he spent his leisure time cycling across Venice Beach, guzzling a six-pack. When we last met, he was carrying a gun, in fear of the reactionary side of American life, who despised his long hair. He said, 'If you're carrying a gun, you stand a chance'."

"He continually took chances with his life," adds Larry Beckett. "He'd drive like a maniac, risking accidents. For a couple of years he drank a lot and took downers to the point where it nearly killed him, but he'd always escape. Then he got into this romantic heroin-taking thing. Then his luck ran out." Buckley's most revered idols were Fred Neil -- who chose anonymity rather than exploit the success of Everybody's Talkin' -- and Miles Davis, both icons and both junkies. "he lived on the edge, creatively and psychologically," says Lee Underwood. "He treated drugs as tools, to feel or think things through in more intense ways. To explore."

One planned exploration was a musical adaptation of Joseph Conrad's novel Out Of The Islands and a screenplay of Thomas Wolfe's You Can't Go Home Again. Of more immediate consequence, Buckley had won the part of Woody Guthrie in Hal Ashby's film Bound For Glory. ...

Buckley was still up for playing live. After a short tour culminating in a sold-out show at an 1,800-capacity venue in Dallas, the band partied on the way home, as was customary. An inebriated Tim proceeded to his good friend Richard Keeling's house in order to score some heroin.

As Underwood tells it, Keeling, in flagrante delicto and unwilling to be disturbed, argued with Buckley : "Finally, in frustration, Richard put a quantity of heroin on a mirror and thrust it at Tim, saying, 'Go ahead, take it all', like a challenge. As was his way, Tim sniffed the lot. Whenever he was threatened or told what to do, he rebelled."

Staggering and lurching around the house, Buckley had to be taken home, where Judy Buckley laid him on the floor with a pillow. She then put him to bed, thinking he would recover; when she checked later, he'd turned an ominous shade of blue. The parademics were called but it was too late. Tim Buckley was dead.

"I remember Herb saying Tim had died, and we all sat there," recalls Bob Duffy, Buckley's old tour manager. "It wasn't expected but it was like watching a move, and that was its natural ending."

"It was painful to listen to his records after he died," says Linda Gillen. "I remember how vibrant he was. He had that same lost alienation as friends who had committed suicide. He was smart, wonderful, mean, nasty, kind, racist, and a loyal friend, all kinds of contradictions. A true original."

"When he died, I took a week off," remembers Joe Stevens. "He was special -- an innocent in an animal machine."

IN 1983, IVO WATTS-RUSSELL of the 4AD label had the inspired notion to marry the vaporous drama of the Cocteau Twins to Buckley's Song To The Siren. Punk's Stalinist purge was over, and the result was a haunting highlight of post-New Wave rock, launching both This Mortal Coil and Buckley's posthumous reputation.

Before he died, Buckley had been planning a live LP spanning the various phases of his career. Sixteen years later Dream Letter was released to great acclaim. "Nobody would have listened before," reckons Herb Cohen. "Things have their own cycle, usually close to 20 years. You have to wait."

He knowingly compromised his fierce artistic ideals, but his gut feeling was that he'd get more freedom later," says Larry Beckett. "If he'd gone into hiding for 10 years, no end of labels would have recorded anything he wanted. Things do come around."

"He was one of the great ballad singers of all time, up there with Mathis and Sinatra," believes Lee Underwood. "He would have pulled out of his youthful confusion, expanded his musical scope to include great popular and jazz songs. Tim Buckley didn't say, 'I am this, I am that'. He said, 'I am all of these things'."

Jeff and Tim Buckley

Three months later Buckley was dead. The Los Angeles County coroner's office determined that Buckley was the victim of "acute heroin-morphine and ethanol intoxication." Overdose. His longtime frend Richard Keeling was charged with murder under California law for having allegedly furnished the drugs that caused the death. The drug charge was subsequently dropped and Keeling pleaded guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter. He served 120 days.

The death shocked Buckley's friends, family and associates, but the autopsy puzzled them; heroin had never played a big part in his diet. The coroner declared that Buckley was no addict....

Buckley outlived his friend Jim Morrison by nine months. But while the media keep resurrecting the Lizard King, the equally photogenic Buckley has proven harder to exploit.

Tim Buckley, Rock Star, Is Dead at 28 on Coast

New York Times

LOS ANGELES, July 1 (AP) --- Tim Buckley, the rock star, died, apparently of a heart attack, on Sunday at the age of 28.

A spokesman for the singer said Mr. Buckley died while climbing a flight of stairs at his Santa Monica apartment. An autopsy has been scheduled.

Mr. Buckley was noted for his recordings of his own compositions of "Sweet Surrender," "Pleasant Street" and "Move With Us."

He rose to popularity as a teen-ager and was signed by Electra Records to write and record his own songs and ballads. As he grew older, his work became more experimental and his popularity declined, a recording source said.

Surviving are his widow, Judy, and a son, Taylor.

Suspect Arraigned In Death Of Singer

New York Times

LOS ANGELES, July 9 --- A suspected drug pusher believed to have sold Tim Buckley, 28-year-old folk singer and composer, heroin that resulted in his death by drug overdose, was arraigned today on murder charges in a Santa Monica courtroom.

Richard Keeling, 30, was arraigned on one count of murder and one count of furnishing heroin and held in lieu of $10,000 bail.

Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Coroner's office announced that Mr. Buckley, originally thought to have died of a heart attack June 29 while climbing the stairs of his Santa Monica apartment, had instead been the victim of a liquor and heroin overdose.

Mr. Buckley was the composer of several folk songs, but his best known was "Sweet Surrender."

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Mr. Keeling for Aug. 14.

Penal Aftermath of Tim Buckley's Death

Los Angeles, March 23

Musician Richard Keeling, convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the narcotics death of singer Tim Buckley, is behind bars after failing a chance to avoid jail through volunteer work. The sentence is 120 days and includes four years probation.

Keeling pleaded guilty last November in Santa Monica Superior Court. He was then working toward a doctorate in music at UCLA.

Judge Charles H. Woodmansee offered to suspend the jail time if Keeling worked as a part-time assistant in a Venice school and otherwise lived up to terms of probation. Dep. Dist. Atty. Harvey Giss said school officials turned down the plan.

Giss said he favored involuntary manslaughter rather than murder because of cloudy aspects in the case. Evidence, he said, indicated Keeling had not offered Buckley any narcotics. He merely left some heroin in an ash tray on the fatal day, March 5, 1975. Buckley died in his home shortly after sniffing the heroin, which he apparently mistook for something else.

Tim Buckley Dead at 28; Murder Charged

Rolling Stone

Los Angeles---Singer/songwriter Tim Buckley died at the Santa Monica Hospital emergency room at 9:42 p.m. on June 29th. At first police suspected that Buckley, 28, had suffered a heart attack, but the county coroner's office later ruled that death was due to a heroin/morphine overdose coupled with alcohol.

Ten days later, Richard Keeling, a 30-year-old research assistant in the music department at UCLA, was arraigned on charges of second degree murder. Keeling allegedly furnished Buckley with the drugs that caused his death; under California law, this constitutes grounds for a murder indictment. Detective Tom Petroski of the Santa Monica Police Department said that the case had nearly been closed before Keeling was linked to it by statements he'd made shortly after Buckley's death. Buckley supposedly visited the Ph.D. student's apartment with his wife shortly before he returned to his home and collapsed.

Police said that Keeling had helped Buckley home and put him into bed after the singer had fallen to the floor. They added that two hours later Buckley's wife became suspicious about his erratic breathing and called for medical assistance. He was then taken to the hospital, where he died shortly thereafter.

Buckley was reputedly a hard drug user several years ago, but the coroner's report showed no indication of recent sustained use of narcotics. No needle marks were found, and L.A. insiders are speculating that he may have snorted the heroin thinking that it was cocaine.

Buckley had been without a label for the past few months, but Arista and Asylum had expressed interest in signing him. His new albums--Look at the Fool, Sefronia and Greetings from L.A.--contained a number of successful straight-ahead rock & roll songs, a departure from the more plaintive tunes heard on mid-Sixties albums like Tim Buckley and Goodbye and Hello.

Though likened to such L.A. song poets as Jackson Browne and gifted with an impressive, multioctave voice, Buckley never quite achieved real stardom. He first won attention as a sensitive, almost fragile, writer and singer, but during the late Sixties he began to explore unstructured jazz vocals, sometimes singing onomatopoetically onstage for up to an hour.

Longtime followers often questioned Buckley's later jazz and rock explorations, but keyboard player John Herron, who recently backed him onstage, said that "the timing could not have been worse. He was at a point where he was going to make the big move. Even though he never got the recognition, he was head and shoulders above a lot of big names in the business." There were signs that such recognition was forthcoming; Buckley had played an 1800 capacity show at Dallas's Electric Ballroom the night before his death.

Jim Fielder, the former Blood, Sweat and Tears bassist who played on Look at the Fool, said that Buckley had "looked okay" when encountered in a San Fernando Valley club just three weeks before his death. "At the time of Look at the Fool," Fielder added, surprise evident in his voice, "Tim was great, in real good shape. It was one of the healthiest times of his life."

Buckley had recently been involved in a UCLA research project as an apprentice in a program working with obscure instruments. He was writing a screenplay and a novel, and was being seriously considered by director Hal Ashby for the role of Woody Guthrie in the film Bound for Glory.

At the time of his death, Buckley seemed to be in excellent spirits. Frankie Nemko, a Los Angeles writer who'd interviewed Buckley in late June, said that he "was so excited about his career, so up it was lovely." And Jackie McGuire, a friend of Buckley's wife Judy who is helping to organize a benefit/tribute tentatively scheduled for Burbank's Starlight Bowl on August 11th, echoed that Buckley's frame of mind had been "very up."

In addition to his wife, Buckley is survived by Taylor, his 12-year-old son from a previous marriage.

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