In February 1997, Jeff and his band moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where their attempts to record proved futile. Still feeling creatively blocked, he stayed on in Memphis after the band returned to New York and secured a Monday night gig at a bar called Barrister's, where he worked on new songs. Things looked like they were finally coming together - Jeff was playing and, he said, coming to terms with his father's legacy. Happy with his new songs, on May 29, 1997, Jeff's band returned to Memphis to work. But it was not to be. Within five minutes of them walking into Jeff's one-bedroom house, the phone rang. It was Jeff's friend, Keith Foti.
According to Browne, Jeff and Keith had driven to nearby Mud Island River Park to play music and watch the sunset. Just after 9pm, Jeff decided to take a swim - fully clothed and still wearing his boots - in the Wolf River, a tributary of the Mississippi, known by locals to be a dangerous swimming spot. Minutes later, he was floating, singing Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love". Keith stayed ashore and, after moving a radio and guitar out of reach of the wake of a passing boat, looked up to real-ise that Jeff was gone. He wouldn't be seen again until his body was found on June 4.
Initial speculation was that he'd committed suicide, but the autopsy confirmed that he had no illegal drugs in his system, and his estate insists it was simply a tragic accident. When Jeff had read his father's obituaries in 1975, he'd been devastated to see no mention of himself. Little did he know that, after just six years of fame, his own tributes would far outshine those of his dad. Mourning the lost of a huge talent, U2's Bono stated,
"Jeff was a pure drop in an ocean of noise."