From 1993 to 1997, Dave Lory was an intimate presence in Jeff Buckley’s life, touring with him on the road foremost as a manager, but more importantly, as a friend and confidante. 21 years after Buckley’s death, Lory has finally shared both modest and emotionally raw details that encapsulated their relationship in his new book, Jeff Buckley: From Hallelujah to The Last Goodbye. Ahead of Lory’s upcoming Q&A about the book on June 6th at Brighton Music Hall, we caught up with him to chat about Jeff, the book, and their journey together.

MM: How has your book tour been going so far, and what kinds of responses have you been gathering?

DL: It’s been really good. My main objective is to talk about what the fans want to know, even though I’m not rigid about it.  During the Q&A, I say things about other artists and also talk about things they wouldn’t know about Jeff—some in the book, some not in the book.

The response has been overwhelming. It’s been mostly positive and sometimes a little emotional. I did a World Cafe with NPR a few weeks ago, and the woman who interviewed me knew everything about Jeff. She had tears coming down her face, and I said “Don’t do this to me. I’m trying to keep my composure.” So, it’s a little wild.

MM: Why did you decide to write a book 21 years after Buckley’s death?

DL: I knew one day the stars would line up. My agency, the head of which I’ve known for 36-plus years, said, “it’s time for you to write the book.”  And I said, “Why would anyone read a book by me?” And he said, “Because you knew him intimately.” And I felt that I could do one last thing for him, and that was to put a stamp on his legacy. The other books were interviewing people who knew Jeff but weren’t with Jeff on the road in those 4 years and didn’t know what questions to ask. They were comparing Tim [Buckley] to Jeff and that’s exactly what he did not want. It was difficult because when I called the other people I wanted to be interviewed for this book, it was like saying, “Hey, let’s go back 21 years and talk about that horrific train accident that killed your parents”, you know? “Let’s relive it.” Everyone had their own way of dealing with it.

I asked Chris Dowd his best friend and the lead singer for Fishbone, “Did you read it yet?” and he said “It’s on my coffee table, but I don’t know if I can”. I also wanted people to read this book and see the artist/manager relationship. and what you go through, kind of like a peek behind the curtain, which I think people find fascinating.

MM: What long term goals did you have for Jeff?

DL: Originally, Jeff said we’d have the “no promotion” promotion tour. He didn’t want to edit his songs to go on radio. He didn’t want to do MTV videos. He didn’t want to do film or TV soundtracks, and  said “This is going to make you popular at the record company.”

By the time he was finished touring, he was making money all around the world. That is unheard of in the music business, very rare. So, that goal was completed. By the third record, we’d figure even by accident, he’d write a hit. And that would then propel him. But after the first record, he had a career for the rest of his life.

MM: You mention in the book that Jeff wanted to write eighteen albums. Why was this?

DL: Jeff had a premonition with death because of his family history. I don’t think it was in a suicidal sense; he thought he was going to die young because his family died young. He wanted to write a bunch of records. He was more of a composer rather than a songwriter. He was all about the sound and layering the music and didn’t sit down and write a three chord love song. I don’t know if [wanting to make eighteen albums]  was a way of pressuring himself because he always did things at the last minute, like finding his band members, going into the studio, and knocking all the songs together. But it always worked out.

MM: Why did Jeff like recording covers?

DL: Jeff could mimic anybody. He could sit down with you right now and in 5 minutes have your gestures down and voice and everything. He was a good interpreter of music. He really wrote from the soul and it took him a long time to finish a song because he just kept reworking it. But, he didn’t mind playing songs he could express himself with, like with Nina Simone and Leonard Cohen and quite a few other people. Interestingly, he went into the second record saying, “I’m not doing any covers on this.”

MM: Do you think people will continue to discover Grace, and will it live in posterity?

DL: I do. “Hallelujah” is in the Library of Congress, so I think that song will draw people in to listen to other stuff and they’ll research learn more about him. In Grace, Jeff does these howls and that voice is what i call a “flying Buckley.”  His voice is just incredible. He could whisper, he could sing pretty, he could howl like in heavy metal, and he could do everything in between.

MM: Do you think Jeff could have actually made a metal album?

DL: Oh yeah. When I first met with him in October 1993, he looked at my resume and saw that I had toured with all these metal bands. He said, “Did you ever meet Van Halen? I love Eddie Van Halen.”  That’s what was so wild about him. His musical tastes were all over the place.

MM: What are some of your favorite moments with Jeff?

DL: We were on the Sin-e tour, and it was just him and a guitar. He was going to do a GLR radio show, and they kept calling him “Tim Buckley’s son” on the radio. He took his Doc Martens and kicked the radio in. That performance lit up the phones and the producer said he’d never seen anything like it in his 10 years of working there.

The next day we were playing a small club called Bunjies, a little bomb shelter in London, and there must have been 100 people crammed inside. I went outside and there was a line 4 or 5 blocks long of people waiting to get in. He made me go out and get a bunch of mini white roses and he handed them out to people in the venue and also in the line, seducing everybody before he even played a note… he had that special touch. After the show at Bunjies, the agent went and booked more shows, and it was Jeff, myself, and the president of Big Cat records carrying Jeff’s amp and guitar. The line of people just followed him. He didn’t play the same song twice that night.

Find tickets for tonight’s Q&A at Brighton Music Hall here and preorder your copy of the book online.

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