by Russell S. Buddy Helm copyright 2013 all rights reserved
Some future Rock Diva knocked on my hotel suite door in London. It was late in the night. I got up, opened the door at the Kensington Hilton on Hyde Park. She was standing in the hallway wearing a white linen sheet, and looking pretty trashed. But still game.
“Can I come in?”
“Don’t let me stand in your way.” I deferred and she sauntered in and started going through the pills on the nightstand. “What is this?”
“I could use some Yang.” she muttered and looked around for something to drink.
“Oh…I don’t know.” She said somewhat exasperated. Maybe not what she had expected. He was probably trying to phone his wife back in L.A. It would make him nuts if he couldn’t reach her. I remember Tim telling me what he had said to this one when she had started dogging him around England, ostensibly writing for a music rag; “I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get a disease from you….” He had a sense of humor.
She decided to settle in. I didn’t quite know what would happen next, but what did happen changed everything. The fire alarm went off. We looked at each other and both said at the same time, “Tim…”
I have no idea how she got out of the Kensington wearing only a sheet. I went down to the bar, which they had opened just for the occasion and it filled with the most interesting people; all continental and sophisto in satin evening jackets and gowns; spies, duchesses, diplomats. I watched the London fire department scour the ritzy hotel. No fire. That is a national offense in England.
New Musical Express, the premier music publication in Great Britain and Europe voted Tim Buckley Best Male Vocalist of the year, nineteen seventy three. We had done it. His astounding vocal performances had, according to the rock press, even eclipsed Van Morrison and Greg Allman on our tour. He really meant it. Tim was focused and gracious. The only time I saw him drink was a rare moment when just the two of us went out for a pint, but at three o’clock in the afternoon, all the pubs closed down. Tim stood in the street and complained to the pub owner,
“No wonder England doesn’t have any great poets! You close your pubs in the afternoon!”
The whole thing was clicking. We were doing something right. There was an attempt to get Tim and Greg to sing together. Van was very friendly. We got back from Amsterdam and were searched at customs, a bomb had just gone off in the Tower of London. I wanted the female police officer to search me.
Excerpt from “Drummer’s History” by Russell S. Buddy Helm