The Tim Buckley Archives


Judy Buckley Llewellyn - Memories of Tim

Room 109 Interview - Part Two

When did you marry? Who was Tim’s best man and who was your maid of honor?

© Courtesy Judy Buckley Llewellyn
Mr and Mrs Buckley at the Liitle Red Chapel, Santa Monica, California 1970

We got married on April 9th 1970 at The Little Red Chapel on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica. A little red chapel with a white picket fence. Danny Gordon and Elaine(Tim’s mother) were the witnesses.

When you and Tim tied the knot, what phase of Tim’s career was in progress?

I think that he had just finished “Lorca” and was about to start “Starsailor”

He drove me down to Laguna and handed me a set of keys for a beautiful house for a wedding present. He was going to work on an album called “Starsailor.” He asked me if it bothered me if he would work on something strange and non-commercial. I remember laughing and saying, “Who am I? This is your career and your life. Do want you want to do”

What was he like when the two of you were home together? Did he watch much TV and if so, what types of programs were his favorites? Did he watch sports at all?

He loved nature films. He liked sports. He played tennis and golf. It surprised people that he was athletic, we had a basketball hoop. Timmy played shortstop on a softball team that he and Frank Zappa had going and they were very good. Flo and Eddie (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan) of the Turtles were on the team as well.

They were rowdy, “batter, batter, batter “and all that. You can imagine what Zappa and all those guys looked like. It was an effort to get them in some sort of uniforms and they played in Levis with the bottoms rolled up and matching dark blue T-shirts. Black tennis shoes. They looked like the Bowery Boys or the Dead End Kids. It was the very beginning of the record company teams. I remember when they played the United Artists team and they all had matching uniforms with the socks and were lined up tossing the ball warming up and Zappa’s team won… and they won a lot.

We never missed a Laker’s game during the two years that they were in the playoffs. We would fly back to New York watch them play the Knicks. It was fun to go to the road games. Tim would get really rowdy, which he liked to do. He really did love rooting for the Lakers in another city, where it would really be apparent.

I got to see every Mohammed Ali fight; Tim really followed him. He always had tickets for the closed circuit showings at a theatre.

What were Tim’s writing habits like and did he have any eccentric personality traits that you would care to divulge?

"He would write on hotel pads and things, cocktail napkins, tissues..."

I can't love you like Sunlite
the radio is playing
& and the bed is unmade
the cards are on the table
by a glass of lemonade

I can't love you like Sunlite
in the heat of July
I can't burn on so brightly
now that we've said goodbye

He would write on hotel pads and things, cocktail napkins, tissues. He would grab something out of my purse if he had an idea, a line or a couple of lines. When he got home and clicked into that mode, he would gather up all these little bits and pieces. He would play his guitar, I would hear him vamping repeatedly on a piece, really focused and trying things out.

He liked to play in the spare bathroom in the Laguna house, because it was completely tiled and sounded good.

When he wrote with Beckett, it was on the telephone. He had this Laz-E-Boy chair and he would be in his thermal underwear and a black robe with his guitar and be on the phone for hours! He would need a shave and it would crack me up. He would have the TV tuned to a baseball game or a football game, but no sound. If people only knew!

There was the Newport shopping center that had these huge chimes that a Japanese artist had done. We must have sat there for an hour and a half just listening. Those huge church organs fascinated him.

Then he bought an upright piano home and had all the guts taken out. All he wanted was the harp and he hung it from the thirty-foot ceiling.

The house that we bought in Laguna was next door to Ozzie and Harriet (Nelson) but they never really came there. I just know that it destroyed him that he could never go and talk over the fence to them

Was he superstitious or did he believe in any of the occult arts (e.g. astrology etc.)

No, not at all. That was one of the classic questions in the Seventies …“What sign are you?” He used to say that he was born under the sign of the Badger.

Was Tim capable of putting music and his career on the back burner in an effort to relax?

Absolutely. One time we took Taylor and spent a week and a half driving to San Francisco from LA, stopping at different places. We did the same going from Laguna to San Diego. He would take Taylor to Capistrano to watch the swallows. But I knew that he was always thinking about stuff. He didn’t take his guitar with him, but I’m sure that he was.

I was overwhelmed the first time I saw him play. I can’t exactly remember where it was, perhaps Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. I was blown away. I didn’t expect it.

You didn’t see him play until after you were married?

Yes! It was a quite a while after we were married. He was so incredible. I could see that it was an extension of him. He loved it. He loved performing. He connected personally with everyone. It was amazing. It was wonderful.

"That Starsailor period was so short lived. They let him produce it and then went crazy when they heard it. They took away every little bit of power they had given him after that..."

In your opinion, did Tim have any musical mentor’s to speak of?

Everyone is influenced by the music that you grow up with. We had dinner with Frank Zappa and Frank said that from the beginning of time everyone is a thief and that is how music grows. I think that if you have a gift and the light goes on, you express that which you know and move it on a bit.

Can you name some singers that he liked?

Fred Neil, Peggy Lee, and Ella Fitzgerald. Tim took Elaine and I to see her when she played with the Count Basie big band. He liked classical music and opera. We would go and he would wear his moccasins!

What music was he listening to at home?

He didn’t listen to music at home. We went out to see people a lot. He didn’t play the stereo or the radio very much, but he liked different things. He liked any one with a good voice. Hank Williams, The Beach Boys songs with all the different harmonies on Pet Sounds. He loved funky music like Marvin Gaye. We would go to hear all kinds of music. The Japanese conductor (Seiji Ozawa), who is so famous now when he was first starting out, shows at USC or UCLA. Al Green in New Orleans.

Some of the stuff I didn’t care for, one jazz guy who was hammering on a piano (Cecil Taylor). It was very frightening. It was mostly blues and jazz clubs; he never really went to see his contemporaries. Never.

Some people have said that Tim was always looking for approval from musical peers and close friends. Did you find this to be true?

Possibly. Perhaps before me, I didn’t see it. They certainly were not at my house. That Starsailor period was so short lived. They let him produce it and then went crazy when they heard it. They took away every little bit of power they had given him after that.

"Hey batter batter hey..."

Was Tim comfortable with his career decisions or did he have any regrets later?


They were all different, he liked doing them, each thing was different. I saw him enjoy doing Greetings From LA no matter what I read or heard said. When he was into each thing he was having a good time.

One album he didn’t care for too much was Look at the Fool because there were songs on it that he wanted to fix. That album was really to be called Tijuana Moon, which you can see from the cover.

The audiences really don’t like the artist to change too much, and I would see that they would want to have the choirboy come out from the first albums. He was only 27 when he died and it was incredible how he would listen to music. He was a sponge. He could listen to music and really understand it. He was really open to different things. He was ready to do something different, always.

At times the audience wanted to hear some very old stuff and he wouldn’t want to do that. I have to say that at the end of the show he would pull them round and they would be listening. It was the record labels too. It confused them, because they weren’t around him all the time. He could change so quickly. They didn’t see the process. His voice had changed.

He was comfortable with older people, He loved going into places where they didn’t know him at all. I remember going into Hollywood to Molly Malone's on St Patrick’s Day. I know that it’s popular now with younger people, but it wasn’t then. They were older working class Irish. It was just amazing. He had a couple of Jack Daniels and got up and sang When Irish Eyes Are Smiling and had these old women crying.

He loved doing stuff like that, just sitting in and being a part of it. He liked to see what other people were like. He’d get them to tell him stories, and because I had learned that Tim was a “thief of mouth”, I could tell that one of these stories would eventually turn up in a song in the future. That was his way of doing it. He didn’t need that fame around him, which I liked. He made me feel safe and I made him a home. He liked that.


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