Gary: “I am definitely not too familiar with the Seventies, because at 70 years of age, the Dawn of Rock and Roll was my time.
There are some singers in the 70’s that I just loved. Now unfortunately this man was not with us that long, but he sang my kind of music, I give you …
1. You don’t Mess Around with Jim/ ABC 11328/ July 1972/ #8
2. Operator (that’s not the way it feels)/ ABC 11335/ November 1972/ #17
3. One Less Set Of Footsteps/ ABC 11346/ March 1973/ #37
4. Bad, Bad Leroy Brown/ ABC 11359/ June 1973/ #1(2)
5. I Got a Name/ ABC 11389/ October 1973/ #10
6.* Time in a Bottle/ ABC 11405/ December 1973/ #1(2)
7.* I’ll Have to say I Love you in a Song/ ABC 11424/March 1974/ #9
8.* Workin’ at the Car Wash Blues/ ABC 11447/ June 1974/ #32
( * = released Posthumously)
Jim Croce was born in South Philadelphia, January 10, 1943, and a life-long fascination with music began shortly thereafter. At the age of six, he was singing and playing “Lady of Spain” on the accordion at church socials and family gatherings.
From his father’s record collection, Jim picked up on music ranging from that of Fats Waller and Bessie Smith to Dixieland. At age 15, he convinced his father that he needed a guitar to help him make his own music and in a pawnshop along Philadelphia’s skid row, his younger brother’s neglected clarinet was traded for a used Harmony “F-slot” acoustic guitar.
During the folk movement of the early ’60s, Jim became captivated with sea chanteys, English and Irish ballads and the music of Woody Guthrie and Jimmie Rodgers.
By the time he graduated from Villanova University in 1965, with a degree in psychology, his photographic memory had helped him have as many as 2500 songs at his fingertips.
Jim and Ingrid Jacobson, a girl he had first met during his collegiate years, were married in 1966 and for a time earned their living as a performing duo. They traveled extensively throughout the East and South playing colleges, bars and coffee houses.
In 1969 they recorded an album, “Jim and Ingrid Croce,” for Capitol Records, but when the record failed to become a big seller, they gave up touring and moved to rural Lyndell, Pennsylvania.
Jim drove trucks, swung a hammer and played music in local bars during the evening hours. Ingrid baked bread, canned vegetables and made pottery, and in 1970 became pregnant with their first child, Adrian James. Faced with an imminent additional mouth to feed, Jim turned his sights once again to music, and sitting at his kitchen table, he wrote in just 10 days “Time in a Bottle,” “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim,” “New York’s Not My Home,” “Photographs and Memories” and “Operator.”
He put the songs on a cassette and sent them along to his producers in New York, who recognized the excellence of the songs. Jim’s commercial success had been born.
His first solo album was released in 1972 and included the guitar playing of his accompanist and close friend, Maury Muehleisen. This album contained the two single hits, “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” and “Operator. “
Video: You don’t mess around with Jim
The album’s success led to an extensive touring schedule followed soon by the recording of a second album, Life and Times, which was released in 1973, and included another number one single smash, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.” It was to be one of only three albums in an unhappily short but singularly productive career.
Video: Bad Bad Leroy Brown
On September 20, 1973, Jim was killed in a plane crash in Natchitoches, Louisiana, during a tour of southern colleges. He was 30 years old. Two weeks later, his third and final album, I Got a Name, was released, containing in addition to the title song, “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song,” “Working at the Car wash Blues” and “Lover’s Cross.”
Drawing from his personal experience and unique observations of life, Jim Croce left behind a rich legacy of music. His songs celebrate the life of the common man; songs that are as relevant today as the day he wrote them.
About the plane Crash that ended Jim’s Life:
The Plane was a twin engine Beechcraft E-18 S. It was proven to be pilot error, the pilot suffered from coronary problems, whether it was a heart attach or not,we will will never know. News at that time:
Investigators Friday said they found marijuana in the wreckage of the plane crash that killed singer JIM CROCE and five other persons, but a sheriff admitted the drug probably was not involved in the accident.
“A lid (ounce) is all. There was some on two different ones,” said Sheriff SAM JAMES. “I don’t think that had anything to do with the plane crash. He (the pilot) just didn’t get enough altitude.”
The sheriff said the pilot’s body was not carrying any drugs, but JAMES ordered an autopsy.
The music industry expressed shock and sorrow at CROCE’S loss just as it had over the premature deaths of Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and Jim Morrison.
“For the music and the people who had seen JIMMY he was only beginning to scratch the surface of what I think would have been a truly big career,” said Tommy West, a CROCE producer in New York.
“I wouldn’t call him a super star because that has overtones of rock things and it went more beyond that. I think JIMMY could have been a Will Rogers or a white Bill Cosby.”
“He didn’t like the music business, he liked music.”
CROCE, 30, and his group, had performed a concert Thursday night at Northwestern Louisiana State College, and were leaving for a Friday appearance at Austin College in Sherman, Tex.
CROCE’S biggest hits had been “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” “Operator” and “Don’t Mess Around With Jim” which earned him a gold album.
“They were leaving the airport and got possibly 250 yards south of the runway, 30 feet in the air, and hit this tree,” Sheriff James said. “For some reason they didn’t gain altitude fast enough.”
Investigators said the tree, a large pecan, was the only tree for hundreds of yards.
“It flipped, landed upright and was turned completely around,” said James of the twin-engined craft.
The pilot, ROBERT N. ELLIOTT, 57, of Dallas, was thrown from the wreckage. The other victims were found in the plane.
Also killed were GEORGE STEVENS, 36, Inglewood, Calif., a comedian; KENNETH D. CORTOSE, 28, Chicago, CROCE’S manager and booking agent; MAURICE T. MUEHLEISEN, 24, Trenton, N. J., a musician; and DENNIS RAST, 30, Chicago.