Jeffrey Scott Buckley (November 17, 1966 – May 29, 1997), raised as Scotty Moorhead, was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. (In 1997), while awaiting the arrival of his band from New York, he drowned during an evening swim in the Wolf River. His body was found on June 4, 1997The song was originally written and sung by Leonard Cohen. You can see Buckley performing the song live here and here. There are quite a few other singers who have attempted this song, as seen unde related videos at the above youtube links.
Buckley's first #1 came posthumously in March 2008 when "Hallelujah" topped Billboard's Hot Digital Songs following a performance of the song on American Idol.
A well-written biography of Buckley can be read here. It seems that, sadly, like Jeffrey, who drowned and died at age 30, his father, Tim Buckley (also a musician), died from an accidental drug overdose in 1975 at age 28!
On June 25, 1975, at the age of 28, Tim Buckley was dead from an accidental drug overdose.
Another interesting tidbit gleaned at the above link:
An ardent enthusiast for a myriad of musical forms, Jeff Buckley was an early champion among young American musicians for the work of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the world's foremost Qawwali (the music of the Sufis) singer. Buckley conducted an extensive interview with Nusrat in Interview magazine (January 1996) and wrote the liner notes for the singer's The Supreme Collection album which was released on Mercator/Caroline Records in August 1997.Hmm.. I thought it was the soundtrack in the movie, Dead Man Walking, that introduced Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to the western world. Maybe the music connoisseurs knew him - the movie just made him more popular; just as American Idol has popularized Buckley.
Note: Found out about Buckley and this song via this question in India Uncut's Workoutable section.