Jim Croce

  • Folk rock singer, musician and songwriter born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania in 1943. Died in 1973 due to a plane crash while traveling after a concert in Louisiana.
  • He became interested in music during his college days at Villanova University, where he graduated in 1965. He was a member of the Villanova Singers, a men’s chorus, and the Villanova Spires, an a cappella group. When the Spires played off campus or recorded, they were known as The Coventry Lads. He formed a band, playing at coffee houses and other Philadelphia schools. The band was chosen for an foreign exchange tour of Africa, the Middle East and Yugoslavia.
  • In 1963, he met his future wife Ingrid Jacobson, and from the mid-60s until the early 70s, he performed as a duo with her, playing blues, country, rock and folk music. They were married in 1966, and Croce’s parents gave them a $500 wedding gift to be used to make an album. In 1966, Croce released his debut folk rock album, Facets, making 500 copies, and selling them all, mostly at his concerts. If you find one at a garage sale, grab it – copies today in good condition get over $1,000 from collectors.
  • In 1968, they moved to New York, where their music was heard by a record company. They were signed, and in 1969 the album Jim and Ingrid Croce was released. Unlike Facets, the songs on this album were written by the Croces. They promoted the album by driving to small venues and performing. Eventually, they grew disillusioned by the music business and New York, so they sold everything except one guitar and moved back to southeastern Pennsylvania, living on a farm. Jim took odd jobs while continuing to write songs.
  • Determined to get a serious job, he worked at a radio station in Philadelphia in 1970, writing commercials for sponsors. While there, he met singer-songwriter Maury Muehleisen, and they started to play music – first, Croce backed Muehleisen, but soon their roles reversed. In 1972, after his demo tape was rejected by nearly 40 labels, Croce signed a 3 album record contract with ABC Records.
  • His debut album with ABC, You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, was released in 1972. It reached the top of the album chart, and 2 singles – the title track, and Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels), were top 20 songs on the Billboard Hot 100. Another song, Time in a Bottle, was released soon after his death, and it topped the Hot 100. Croce and Muehleisen toured the U.S., and later Europe, and they also appeared on televison shows like American Bandstand, The Tonight Show, and The Midnight Special.
  • His next album, Life and Times, was released in July 1973. It reached #7 on the album chart, and Bad, Bad Leroy Brown became his biggest hit, topping the Hot 100 chart. It was nominated for 2 Grammy awards.
  • He recorded his next album, I Got A Name, during the summer of 1973, and while on tour promoting Life and Times he grew homesick. He wrote a letter to Ingrid telling her that he would take a break from music to write short stories and movie scripts. On September 20, he died in a plane crash along with Muehleisen, one week after completing I Got A Name. The letter to Ingrid arrived after his death.
  • The album I Got A Name was released posthumously on December 1. It peaked at #2 on the album chart, and 2 songs – the title song and I’ll Have To Say I Love You In a Song – both reached the top 10. Ingrid has shared that I’ll Have To Say I Love You In a Song was written by Croce after one of their frequent arguments about money. Jim stormed out of their bedroom, and the following morning, he woke Ingrid by singing “everytime I tried to tell you, the words just came out wrong. So I’ll have to say I love you in a song.”
  • A career cut short by a sudden death, he managed to produce several songs that everyone knows today. Here he is performing his biggest hit, Bad, Bad Leroy Brown on The Midnight Special in 1973. “Badder than old King Kong, meaner than a junkyard dog!” He really has some beautiful songs – take some time to listen to I Got A Name, I’ll Have To Say I Love You In a Song, Operator, and Time In A Bottle,

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