On this day in the 70’s, we lost two great singers, songwriters who are sadly missed – to accidental drug overdoses.
On this day in 1975, American singer songwriter Tim Buckley died of an overdose of heroin and morphine aged 28. Buckley had released nine albums, including the 1972 Greetings from L.A. (Buckley was the father of singer songwriter Jeff Buckley who drowned in Wolf River Harbor on the Mississippi River in 1997).
Signed as a “folk” artist in the mid-1960s, Buckley was an uncompromising, eternally restless songwriter who melded jazz and pop into a signature sound that showcased his virtuosic, unearthly voice.
On June 28, 1975, Buckley completed the last show of a tour in Dallas, Texas – and celebrated the culmination of the tour with a weekend of drinking with his band and friends, as was his normal routine.
On the evening of June 29, 1975, Buckley decided to accompany long-time friend Richard Keeling back to his house in the hope of obtaining some heroin. In his inebriated state, Buckley walked in on Keeling while he was having sex, causing an argument between the two. Keeling, with the aim of placating him, handed Buckley a large dose of heroin and challenged him to “Go ahead, take it all”. The singer duly snorted all the drug laid out for him. Buckley was dead within a few hours.
Buckley died with little to his name beyond the musical legacy of his nine albums. All he owned was a guitar and an amplifier and he died in debt.
Also on this day in 1979, American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Lowell George died of a heart attack. The Little Feat front man was found dead at the Key Bridge Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.
George was born in Hollywood, his first instrument was the harmonica. At the age of 6 he appeared on the Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour performing a duet with his older brother, Hampton. He started to play guitar aged 11, and later learned to play the saxophone and sitar.
George became a member of Frank Zappa’s band, the Mothers of Invention and can be heard on both Weasels Ripped My Flesh and You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 5.
After leaving the Mothers of Invention, George invited fellow musicians to form a new band – Little Feat.
In the 1970s, Little Feat released a series of highly acclaimed studio albums: Little Feat, Sailin’ Shoes, Dixie Chicken, Feats Don’t Fail Me Now, The Last Record Album, and Time Loves A Hero. The group’s 1978 live album Waiting for Columbus became their best-selling album.
As the leader of Little Feat throughout the ’70s, George not only created a standard for slide guitar players, but was also arguably the first slide guitarist to apply an otherwise country or blues technique to a New Orleans rhythm & blues based rock format.
Touring in support of his newly released solo album, George collapsed in his Arlington, Virginia hotel room and died on June 29, 1979. An autopsy showed that he died of an accidental drug overdose.
Lowell George’s body was cremated in Washington, D.C. on August 2. His ashes were flown back to Los Angeles, where they were scattered in the Pacific Ocean from his fishing boat.
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