Jeff Buckley Assumed Dead

May 31, 1997 12:00 AM ET

Columbia recording artist Jeff Buckley is reported missing and assumed dead after a strange turn of events while he was swimming Thursday night in the Mississippi River outside Memphis.

Buckley was in Memphis to begin pre-production on his second studio album to follow up 1994's highly acclaimed Grace. Recording was to begin today.

According to Memphis police, Buckley, 30, and an unnamed companion were sitting on a bank of the river listening to a radio. The singer waded into the river even though his friend called out to him and warned that it could be dangerous, police said. Buckley then floated on his back and began to sing. At that point, a boat came by creating large waves. Fearing the radio would get wet, the companion got up to move it and when he returned, Buckley had disappeared, according to police.

After searching for about 10 minutes, the friend called Memphis police who searched the area by helicopter until darkness interrupted their efforts. A scuba team and harbor patrol resumed the search first thing Friday morning. The police have no reason to suspect foul play, according to Lt. Maples of the general assignment squad of the Memphis Police Department, which handles missing persons cases.

As far as police know, drugs and alcohol were not involved. Maples suggested that Buckley could've drifted down the river and gotten out at a different point than where he entered the river. However, according to Maples, the chance that Buckley is still alive looks grim at this time.

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