Jim Croce 1943-1973
James Joseph Croce was born on January 10, 1943, to James Alford and Flora Croce. Jim always had a strong interest in music, and learned to play "Lady Of Spain" on accordian at the age of five.
His interest in music became more than just a hobby while he was at Villanova University from 1961, where he formed friendships with Joe Salviuolo (Sal Joseph), Tommy Picardo (West), Tim Hauser, Mike DiBenedetto and several others, forming bands and playing coffee houses and universities around the Philadelphia area.
He met and married Ingrid Jacobson on August 28, 1966. Around that time, his father loaned him the money to record his first album, produced by Sal Joseph, called "Facets". Only 500 copies were pressed and these have now become collector's items, mostly owned by family and friends.
Jim performed throughout the mid 60's along with his wife, Ingrid. In 1968, they were encouraged by the long time friend, Tommy West to move to New York City where they recorded an album, "Jim and Ingrid Croce" for Capital Records. Unfortunately the album was not successful and disillusioned both with New York and the music business, they moved back to Pennsylvania.
In 1970 Jim was introduced by his old friend, Sal Joseph, to a brilliant young musician/singer/songwriter by the name of Maury Muehleisen. Sal had given up his job as communications professor at Glassboro State College to manage Maury and was looking to Jim as a possible back up guitarist for Maury. The chemistry between the two musicians was instantaneous. Instead of Jim becoming Maury's back up guitarist, the roles reversed. Jim began writing new songs and in 1972 the pair were offered a two record deal with ABC Records, releasing two albums, "You Don't Mess Around With Jim" and "Life and Times".
Three singles were released from the first album. The first, "You Don't Mess around With Jim," was a legitimate hit record, reaching the top-10 and making a definite impact on the American public. "Operator" received substantial radio air-play and was respected by music people even more than his first single. "One Less Set of Footsteps" was played but never sold very well nor was it too highly regarded for its artistic merit. The fourth single, however, "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" became a gigantic single record reaching #1 on the national charts in July of 1973, ultimately selling more than 2,000,000 copies.
By August 1973, Jim Croce had the #1 single in the country. He had travelled back and forth across the United States playing every major coffeehouse and club and appearing in hundreds of concerts. He had appeared on national television no fewer than seven times. In June of that year he hosted The Midnight Special, recorded "I Got A Name," and had sold out the prestigious L.A. club, The Troubadour, for a solid week's engagement.
In late July he drew 12,000 people to the Ravina Folk Festival outside Chicago and all involved in his career realized that these events were the sure signs that long-term success was inevitable. In the early part of September, Jim's version of his own song, "Time In A Bottle", was used as the theme of an ABC Television movie called "She Lives". This movie was seen nationally, and the next day major radio stations across the country began receiving an extraordinary number of requests for the relatively obscure album cut. "Time In A Bottle" was destined then to become another #1 record for Jim.
Tragically, Jiim was killed along with his friend and lead guitar player, Maury Muehleisen and four others, on September 20, 1973, when their Beechcraft D-18 charter plane snagged the top of a pecan tree just past the end of the runway after a concert at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
That tragic date was the same day that their ABC single, "I Got A Name" was released. The album of that name was released in December, 1973. Three more hit singles were released from that album, those being the title track, "I Got A Name", "I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song" and "Working At The Car Wash Blues". Another song from that album, "Time In A Bottle", had been used that September 12th for ABC's made for TV movie, "She Lives". On December 29th, "Time In A Bottle" reached number one in the charts.