James Joseph Croce, January 10, 1943, Philadelphia, PA; d. September 20, 1973, Natchitoches, LA
Pop-rock, Folk, Singer-Songwriter, Soft Rock
Contributions to music:
- A blue-collar singer-songwriter capable of chronicling the ups and downs of career and romance
- One of the finest Seventies singer-songwriters
- An honest and approachable star who was in touch, perhaps more than most folk-rockers, whith the common man
- One of the era's great storytellers
Although Jim Croce was, by the age of six, playing accordion and developing an interest in his father's extensive trad-jazz collection, he was slow to make music his life's work; at 15, he convinced his father to buy him a guitar, but he kept one foot in blue-collar work and one in academia. It was only after graduating from Villanova University in 1965 with a degree in psychology, and teaming up with his fiance, Ingrid, whom he'd met at a college hootenanny, that he began pursuing his dream in earnest. After touring for two whole years behind their flop debut, titled simply Jim & Ingrid Croce, they gave up.
But even as Jim settled into a life of backbreaking jobs and Ingrid began canning and making pottery, fate stepped in as Jim met Maury Muehleisen, a classically trained guitarist who'd go on to play lead on his records. Soon, the Cashman and West production team in New York City had them record a batch of new songs, written when Jim realized his wife was pregnant with their first child, and the resultant album was an instant smash, spooling off single after single (most notably the title track, "You Don't Mess Around With Jim." The follow-up album gave Croce his biggest hit, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown."
Success required still more touring, however, and Jim and Marty set off on a series of gigs at Southern US colleges. On September 20, 1973, the two chartered a plane to leave their concert at Northwestern University in Louisiana and fly to Sherman, TX; although conditions were perfect, the plane clipped the top of a cedar grove at 10:45 pm and crashed, killing the pair, the pilot, and their opening act (a stand-up comedian). The official government report seems to suggest that the pilot of the craft suffered a heart attack, causing the plane to spin out of control. Croce was 30; his widow controls his legacy today.
- Converted to Judaism in order to marry his wife, Ingrid
- While working in construction, Jim injured his hand in a sledgehammer accident, forcing him, so rumor has it, to develop his unique four-fingered picking style
- Had a live repertoire of over 3000 songs
- "Time In A Bottle" was written in one night when Jim learned Ingrid was pregnant with his child
- Had one son, who now performs as a singer-songwriter under the name A.J. Croce
- "Croce's Restaurant & Jazz Bar" in San Diego, CA is owned and operated by Ingrid as a tribute to Jim
- Songwriters Hall of Fame (1990)
Top 10 hits
- "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" (1973)
- "Time In A Bottle" (1973)
- "You Don't Mess Around With Jim" (1972)
- "I Got A Name" (1973)
- "I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song" (1974)
Top 10 albums
- You Don't Mess Around With Jim (1974)
Other popular recordings:
- Life And Times (1973)
- I Got A Name (1974)
- Photographs & Memories/His Greatest Hits (1974)
"Spin, Spin, Spin," "Age," "Hey Tomorrow," "Child Of Midnight," "Which Way Are You Goin'?", "Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy)" "Tomorrow's Gonna Be A Brighter Day," "New York's Not My Home," "Photographs And Memories," "Speedball Trucker," "Operator (That's Not The Way It Feels)," "It Doesn't Have To Be That Way," "A Good Time Man Like Me Ain't Got No Business (Singin' the Blues)," "Next Time, This Time," "One Less Set Of Footsteps," "Roller Derby Queen," "Workin' At The Car Wash Blues," "Lover's Cross," "Salon And Saloon," "These Dreams," "A Long Time Ago," "Alabama Rain," "Dreamin' Again," "Thursday"
Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, Melanie, Jerry Reed, The Ventures, Poison, Andy Williams, Sammy Kershaw, Cilla Black, Crystal Gayle, Glen Campbell, Floyd Cramer, Roger Whittaker, Nana Mouskouri, Donna Fargo
Appears in the movies:
"The Fantastic All-Electric Music Movie" (1985)