Radio 4's The Grace of Jeff Buckley: Poignant memories of rock idol who spawned monsters
If you gave me a quid for every wet-behind-the-ears, acoustic guitar-wielding nitwit claiming Jeff Buckley as their musical hero, I could have built my own recording empire by now.
Buckley, an undeniably brilliant singer and songwriter whose premature death in 1997 in a swimming accident increased his mythology, has certainly spawned some monsters (hello Ed!) though perhaps we shouldn't hold that against him.
Radio 4's The Grace of Jeff Buckley wisely didn't dwell on what might have been, nor on the hordes of Buckley pretenders currently hypnotising the nation's teens. Instead, it focused on the musician's first visit to London 20 years ago, when he was a barely known singer-songwriter with pretty cheekbones and an unusually high vocal register.
The hype machine had already cranked into action back in the US, where the fascination with Buckley was inflamed by his surname (he was the son of the folk-rock legend Tim Buckley, whom he only met once). Here, though, he was still unknown, able to walk the streets unpestered, and play tiny shows in basement bars and small country pubs without causing a riot.
This narrator-less programme was a scrapbook of memories shared by those who encountered him during this British sojourn. It was terrific, rich in detail and shot through with a melancholy of what would come later.
A booking agent, Emma Banks, described taking Buckley out to dinner ("He ate duck"), organising his gig schedule and recording a promotional interview with him that never saw the light of day, in the same besotted tones in which you might describe a love affair, which in some ways it was.
The American photographer Kevin Westerberg was similarly smitten: ""I developed man-love for him quite quickly," he recalled. "There was something so perfectly structured about his face." In the case of Steve Abbott, owner of Big Cat records, it was his infant daughter who became infatuated as Buckley entertained her with impressions of Disney characters and brought up her on stage.
More gems were unearthed from the trip, including a forgotten Greater London Radio session, which was almost scuppered when the presenter trailed the programme as featuring an interview with "Tim Buckley's son". The normally even-tempered Jeff, who was listening in a car half a mile down the road, apparently kicked the radio so hard that the front fell off.
Once in the studio he proceeded to deliver a version of "Grace" that was entirely fuelled by fury. "Something happened on the way," Buckley murmured when asked if his performances were always that intense.
The Radio 4 documentary didn't have the space to play it in its heart-stopping entirety but fortunately Cerys Matthews did on her 6Music show on Sunday. Listening to it, I shed a little tear, not just at the song, which was devastatingly good, but at the injustice that Buckley is no more and yet Ed Sheeran continues to make records.
Luckily, London's Tin Pan Alley: Danny Baker's Musical History on Radio 2 gave us reason to be proud of our heritage as the presenter took a stroll down Denmark Street, home of assorted bars, basements and backrooms where rock history was made.
With the help of assorted musicians, from Glen Matlock to Bill Wyman, Baker told of the publishing empires, the design companies, the studios and the retail outlets that operated from this small stretch of Soho. Baker was funny and knowledgeable as ever but the finest line belonged to Matlock who, surveying his old studio, drawled, "Still got a rat problem, I see".
Broadcaster unveils Christmas scheduleTV
Review: Posh journalists just can't get enough of each otherTV
Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Halle Berry takes ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry to court for allegedly trying to make daughter look less African-American
- 4 Isis propaganda image showing 'abuse of Muslim woman by soldiers' is actually taken from Hungarian porn film
- 5 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Black Mirror Christmas special: Jon Hamm episode will see people 'blocked' in real life
True Detective series 2: Rachel McAdams cast in female lead as 'no-nonsense' detective
Zoella: YouTube sensation Zoe Sugg's debut novel expected to become overnight bestseller
Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
Posh People: Inside Tatler, BBC2 - TV review: Fundamentally not just about posh people
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services