It's 21 years and counting since Jeff Buckley, one of pop's most mysterious figures in the '90s, left the world just as modestly as he arrived. It took every bit of the last two decades for Jeff's former manager Dave Lory to put it all in perspective and write what he says is the definitive volume on the legendary singer's career.
Lory tells Q104.3 New York's Out of the Box with Jonathan Clarke that the years since Jeff died have been emotionally challenging, but not without the occasional glimmer of the singer's memory.
"I just felt now is the time," Lory says. "Jonathan, I wanted to put a stamp on his career. I really wanted a book that if somebody 100 years from now would go back and say, 'This is the book.'"
The book is Jeff Buckley: From Hallelujah to the Last Goodbye. It contains remembrances and never-before-published interviews with people close to Jeff during his career. It paints an intimate picture of an unassuming supernova of talent whose light is still traveling to faraway places.
Lory managed Jeff from 1993 until the singer's bizarre disappearance and tragic death in 1997. Under Lory's shepherdship, Jeff went from underground acclaim to being an international pop star. It was a sudden change that was difficult for Jeff to digest, but Lory says it was inevitable; Jeff was just too good.
"At Glastonbury, he made 100,000 people feel like an intimate venue," Lory says. "That showed me that he could do anything."
But when it was coming time to make his second album, Jeff yearned for a break, a simpler existence. He moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where Lory believed Jeff hoped to find his lost anonymity before returning to highs and lows of his career in the music business.
"He was going to record the album in Memphis," Lory remembers. "He was having a hard time when we came off the road because he couldn't go to his usual haunts in New York; he was always being bothered. He just wanted to have a normal life. He actually even applied to be the butterfly keeper at the zoo. (Laughs)"
Jeff died before completing his second album. While Jeff's friends thought the singer was behaving erratically in the days before his death, Lory says no one is sure why. An autopsy proved Jeff was sober when he went for a swim in the Mississippi River on May 29, 1997, where he drowned in the undertow.
"I called him two days before he disappeared and that's the only time he didn't call me back," Lory says. "Everybody was saying they were getting calls from Jeff and they hadn't heard from him in a long time. Ironically, when I came home from Memphis and hit my answering machine, there was a message for my daughter and my wife. It said, 'Play the music, play it loud. Love, Jeff.' The timer on the answering machine put it probably around 15 minutes before he walked out of the house."
While he's not a big believer in the supernatural, Lory adds that he has reason to believe Jeff found what he was looking for.
Watch the full interview above.
Look for Jeff Buckley: From Hallelujah to the Last Goodbye here.
Watch Jeff Buckley's legendary performance of "Hallelujah" and the music video for his song "Grace" below: