Author of the book, “Jeff Buckley: From Hallelujah to Last Goodbye,” Dave Lory speaks out after 19 years of the rockstar, Jeff Buckley’s passing. Lory was his manager throughout Buckley’s career until his tragic death by drowning in the Mississippi River. Buckley touched the hearts of many during his lifetime, leaving listeners worldwide with unanswered questions about his life, career and death. Lory spent two years writing the book telling Buckley’s full and honest story when he had decided that it was finally the right time to share it.
“Have I ever wondered if I could have done more for him? Yes,” Lory wrote in his book. “I thought about it every day for many years after his death. I couldn’t bear to listen to his music, until recently. It was too painful. I went through all the stages of bereavement with the added weight of responsibility.”
Lory and Buckley not only immediately bonded over their common interest and experience with 1980s heavy metal, but also over their similar and lonely childhoods. This parallelism in the pair’s backgrounds allowed the initial element of trust between artist and manager, leading the way for a successful and cohesive artist-manager duo.
“I always say artists have screws loose and the more loose screws they have, the more talented they are,” Lory said. “Every artist that I’ve ever worked with it’s like the windows open up and the wind is blowing in and everything’s in slow-motion and it’s just this star quality.”
When returning to Memphis, Tenn. toward the end of Buckley’s life, he tried to buy a house that was not for sale, a car that was not for sale and applied for a job as a butterfly keeper at the Memphis Zoo in the midst of his career. From what Lory gathered from speaking with close friends of Buckley, many were under the impression that he wanted to settle down and live a “normal” life that he was not allowed in big cities such as New York. Buckley’s truth as to why he acted impulsively when working in Memphis may never be answered, but many people who were close to him noticed that he was irritated by his popularity in New York intervening with casual outings and his social life.
“There’s no way to know for sure,” Lory said. “He told his girlfriend Joan that he was suffering from depression, and there was anxiety with the second record because it took a long time, so I think he was just screaming for normality.”
Buckley was working on his album “My Sweetheart the Drunk” before his passing, which was released unfinished as “Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk.” Buckley handed Lory the rough product on cassette when clarifying that it is not nearly close to completion and had plans to work with the producer, Andy Wallace in adding “color” to the tracks. Buckley was skilled in composing music and writing charts, impressing many at Columbia Records and had greater plans for “My Sweetheart the Drunk” which still accomplished international popularity even as the unfinished album released after his passing.
Before Buckley’s disappearance, many recall him reaching out after not hearing from the rockstar in years. Lory, on the other hand, reports that he called Buckley two days before he disappeared and it was the first time he had not returned his call. However, about 15 minutes before Buckley left the house and resulted in the Mississippi River, he left a message for Lory’s wife and daughter saying, “play the music, play it loud. Love, Jeff.”
“I had finally found peace when I went with my wife to a psychic she had outside London,” Lory said. “I had a bracelet Jeff gave me… She asked for a piece of jewelry and I gave it to her and she said that there was a Jeff or a John trying to get ahold of me and it had to do something with water. She would just say things for the next hour that only Jeff and I would have known. Then, at the end, she said, ‘is this his bracelet’ and I said ‘yes’ and she said ‘I don’t know if this makes sense, but he didn’t mean for it to happen, he didn’t fight it, it’s not your fault and it’s okay to let everything go.’”
Two months later, Lory was leaving the Christmas party of his new job when he noticed a shooting star, then raised his arm motioning for a cab, only when he looked back at his wrist, Buckley’s bracelet was gone.
“That was about seven years after his passing and was the first time I was able to listen to his music again,” Lory said.
Lory is currently on his international “Jeff Buckley: From Hallelujah to Last Goodbye” tour in memory of Buckley, where he will be holding Q&As, offering answers to questions and allowing closure for fans worldwide and for himself.
“When I finish the tour in Australia,” Lory said, “I’m going to get on a plane in Sydney to fly back, I’m going to look up, I’m going to say ‘I hope I did you proud’ and then I’m never talking about him again.”