Trailblazers: Gram Parsons, Nick Drake & Jeff Buckley

Trailblazers: Gram Parsons, Nick Drake & Jeff Buckley

Parsons, Drake and Buckley were three young musicians who died before they had made their mark on the musical world, yet left behind them a legacy that was as rich as it was beautiful.

Ex-preacher Parsons was outrageous, outspoken but impeccably polite. He recorded with various bands including The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Byrds and very nearly the Rolling Stones. His light shone brightly but briefly before his mysterious death, and more bizarre cremation, at the age of 26.

Almost a polar opposite, Nick Drake was intensely shy with crippling stage fright, who made less than 40 public appearances. Handsome yet fragile, he composed beautiful melodies. He sank into depression in the family home, before overdosing on medication – whether deliberate or not, nobody knows – at the age of 26.

Jeff Buckley’s vocal range spanned an astonishing four octaves. He could sing any style – from Piaf to Gershwin, from scat and jazz to Oum Kalthoum, alongside his own superb realist compositions. In 1997, on the brink of stardom, he never returned from a fully-clothed swim in the Mississippi River.

Only in death was the true potential of these talented young men appreciated, their songs still appearing in ads and Buckley had his first number 1 in 2008. With every passing year, their legends grow. And posthumously they have influenced a whole host of singers who now crowd the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. This is their remarkable story.