Joan Wasser, Jeff Buckley, and Grace

Joan Wasser and Jeff Buckley were lovers and artists

It's rare in the music world that a casual love affair between 2 musicians develops into anything stronger, and they become mutually influential. And it's incredibly tragic when it ends due to an accident, a random reaching down of Fate's bony finger. Such was the case with Joan Wasser and Jeff Buckley, who drowned in 1997.

In the summer of 1994 Jeff Buckley was on the brink of success. His new album entitled “Grace” was about to be released, and he was touring and doing what he loved – playing music. He and his band appeared at a venue together with a new band called the Dambuilders. The violinist in that band was a beautiful and charismatic young woman named Joan Wasser. and Jeff was smitten with her from their first meeting. Later he wrote the song “Everybody Here Wants You” about her and recorded a demo version that appeared on his posthumous collection “Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk.”



By all accounts their relationship was one of those tempestuous, fiery affairs that inspired and educated them both. They were strong personalities and capable of extreme behavior, and they learned from each other in countless ways. But their pairing came to an unexpected end in 1997. Buckley was in Memphis recording the followup to his first album. He and a friend were out on a warm evening, and he decided to swim in the Wolf River, a Mississippi tributary. Clad in a t-shirt, jeans, and combat boots, he was apparently pulled underwater by the current from a passing tugboat and was unable to save himself. His body was found a few days later and he was pronounced dead at the age of 28.


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Wasser made a record with friends of hers and of Buckley's under the band name Those Bastard Souls entitled “Debt and Departure,” loosely based on his tragic death. While dealing with the pain and grief was a struggle, she soldiered on and became a sought-after musician. Since then she has played on records and toured with Antony and the Johnsons, Lou Reed, and Rufus Wainwright among others, and started a solo recording career under the name Joan as Police Woman. In interviews she has decided not to talk about her relationship with Buckley, preferring to keep it private and perhaps to draw upon her memories as a wellspring of inspiration.