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Jim Croce (Jan 10, 1943 ‒ Sept 20, 1973) was an American singer-songwriter from South Philadelphia whose biggest single "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" hit number 1 on the US charts in the summer of 1973. His influences included Ian & Sylvia, Gordon Lightfoot and Woody Guthrie. Sadly, Croce died in a small commercial plane crash one day before his third album, "I Got a Name" was to be released.Read More...
Croce was born in South Philadelphia. He graduated from Upper Darby High School in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania in 1960 where in 1976, he was the first former student to be added to the high school's Wall of Fame. Then, while attending Villanova University (1965 graduate), Croce became interested in becoming a professional musician and met his future wife, Ingrid, at a hootenanny at Convention Hall in Philadelphia, where he was a judge for the contest.
During the early 1960s, Croce formed a number of college bands and performed at coffee houses and universities, and later with his wife Ingrid as a duo in the mid-1960s to early 1970s. At first their performances included songs by Ian and Sylvia, Gordon Lightfoot, Joan Baez, and Woody Guthrie, but in time they began writing their own music, such as "Age", "Hey Tomorrow", and "Spin, Spin Spin" which later led to Croce's hit songs in the early seventies.
At the same time, Croce got his first long-term gig at a rural bar and steak house in Lima, Pennsylvania, called the Riddle Paddock. There, over the next few years, Croce developed a very engaging rapport with tough audiences and built his musical repertoire to over 3,000 songs. His set list included every genre from blues to country, rock 'n roll to folk, with tender love songs and traditional Bawdy Ballads, always introduced with a story and an impish grin.
In 1968, Jim and Ingrid Croce were encouraged to move to New York City to record their first album with Capitol Records. For the next two years, they drove over 300,000 miles playing small clubs and concerts on the college concert circuit promoting their album Jim & Ingrid Croce.
Then, disillusioned by the music business and New York City, Croce sold all but one guitar to pay the rent, and they returned to the Pennsylvania countryside where Croce got a job driving trucks and doing construction to pay the bills. He called this his "Character Development Period" and spent a lot of his time sitting in the cab of a truck, composing songs about his buddies and the folks he enjoyed meeting at the local bars and truck stops.
In 1970, Croce met classically trained pianist/guitarist, singer-songwriter Maury Muehleisen from Trenton, New Jersey. Initially, Croce backed Muehleisen on guitar at his gigs. But in time, their musical strengths led them each to new heights. Muehleisen's ethereal and inspired guitar leads became the perfect accompaniment to Croce's down-to-earth music.
In 1972, Croce signed to a three record deal with ABC Records releasing You Don't Mess Around with Jim and Life & Times in the same year. The singles "You Don't Mess Around with Jim", "Operator (That's Not The Way It Feels)" and "Time In A Bottle" (written for his newborn son, A. J. Croce) helped the former album reach #1 on the charts in 1974. Croce's biggest single "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown", hit number 1 on the US charts in the summer of 1973, selling two million copies.
Croce, 30, and Muehleisen, 24, died in a small commercial plane crash on September 20, 1973 in Natchitoches, Louisiana one day before releasing his third ABC album, I Got a Name. The posthumous release included three hits, "I Got A Name", "Workin' At The Car Wash Blues" and "I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song."
In 1990, Croce was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
In the late 1990s, Ingrid Croce, Croce's widow, and their son, A.J. Croce obtained the publishing rights for Croce's entire catalog of songs. Since then they have released Jim Croce Home Recordings, Facets, Jim Croce: Classic Hits, and the first-ever DVD of Jim's television performances on "Have You Heard – Jim Croce Live", with their most recent release in January 2006 of a CD of the same title. They also co-produced a PBS special, with archive footage from the Croce family collection, along with excerpts of their DVD Have You Heard – Jim Croce Live.
In 1985, Ingrid Croce opened "Croce's Restaurant & Jazz Bar", located in the historic Gaslamp District in San Diego, California, partially as a tribute to her late husband.
His personal motto: "If you dig it, do it. If you really dig it, do it twice."
Top SongsTotal plays on Last.fm over the last 6 months
- LyricsIf I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day
'Til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you
- LyricsLike the pine trees lining the winding road
I got a name, I got a name
Like the singing bird and the croaking toad
I got a name, I got a name
And I carry it with me like my daddy did
- LyricsOperator, well could you help me place this call?
See, the number on the matchbook is old and faded
She's living in L.A. with my best old ex-friend Ray
A guy she said she knew well and sometimes hated
Isn't that the way they say it goes? Well, let's forget all that
- LyricsWell the South side of Chicago
Is the baddest part of town
And if you go down there
You better just beware
Of a man named Leroy Brown
- LyricsUptown got it's hustlers
The bowery got it's bums
42nd street got big Jim walker
He's a pool shootin' son of a gun
Yeah, he big and dumb as a man can come
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