Three biopics on tragic star Buckley to go head to head

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The Independent Online

His accidental death by drowning robbed music of its brightest new star. But the cult of Jeff Buckley will go mainstream this year with three biopics competing to tell the story of the singer who released just one tantalising album during his lifetime.

Fifteen years after Buckley's body was discovered on the banks of the Mississippi River in Memphis, the singer, who died aged 30 after his 1994 debut album Grace had advertised the arrival of a major new talent, will be given the Hollywood treatment.

Sir Ridley Scott's son Jake is among those battling to bring Buckley, whose cascading melodies and emotional falsetto voice influenced artists including Radiohead and Coldplay, to the screen.

Jake Scott hoped that his film, Mystery White Boy, would be the "official" version. The director has the exclusive rights to Buckley's music and personal archives, including permission from Sony Music to use Hallelujah, the singer's show-stopping version of Leonard Cohen's song from Grace. Mary Guibert, Buckley's mother, is on board as executive producer and will be played in the film by Patricia Arquette.

However reports suggest that Scott has been bumped from the film in favour of a new director, Amy Berg and the attached lead, due to be Reeve Carney, star of the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, may also be replaced.

The first film to gain a widespread release will now be Greetings from Tim Buckley, which examines Jeff's relationship with a father he barely knew. Tim Buckley was a pioneering folk-rock singer during the 60s, who mixed jazz and psychedelia, before dying of a drug overdose, aged 28. The film stars Penn Badgley, from the US series Gossip Girl, as Jeff.

The third film is called A Pure Drop, directed by Brendan Fletcher. It is based on a 2008 biography, A Pure Drop: The Life of Jeff Buckley.

Brad Pitt has been frustrated in his own attempts to make a film about Jeff Buckley. The singer's mother is said to have rejected his scripts because they strayed too far from reality.