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he called Leroy Brown bad and saved Time in a Bottle
James Joseph Croce was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 10, 1943. He learned to play the accordion at age five and eventually taught himself the guitar, but was not initially interested in pursuing music as a career. graduated from Upper Darby High School in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, in 1960. He then attended Villanova University, from which he graduated with a degree in psychology in 1965.
It was while at Villanova that Croce began seriously pursuing a music career, forming a number of bands that performed various gigs at local bars and parties. In 1966 he married Ingrid Jacobson, whom he had met three years earlier. He released his first album, Facets, that same year. Every one of the 500 copies pressed were sold, and he and Ingrid began performing as a duo soon after.
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 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 Jim & Ingrid Croce. When the album failed to sell, they moved to a farm in Lyndell, Pennsylvania, where he juggled several jobs, including singing for radio commercials. Adrian James "A.J." Croce was born in 1971.
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, and Muehleisens ethereal and inspired guitar leads became the perfect accompaniment to Croces down-to-earth music.
Croce was signed by ABC/Dunhill in 1972, and You Don't Mess Around With Jim was released that same year. The singles "You Don't Mess Around With Jim, "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels," and "Time in a Bottle" all received significant airplay, and Croce's career was suddenly taking off. Life and Times was released the following year, and the single "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" became his first #1 hit. He, Ingrid, and A.J. moved to San Diego, California, in August of 1973.
Croce spent most of 1972 and 1973 on tour, with a short "break" to record I Got a Name. On September 20, 1973, following a gig at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana., Croce and four others boarded a small chartered plane to travel to his next show in Sherman, Texas. In what was later described as solely a pilot error, the Beechcraft E18S failed to clear a pecan tree while taking off and crashed. All six people aboard were killed, including Croce, Maury Muehleisen, comedian George Stevens, manager/booking agent Kenneth D. Cortose, road manager Dennis Rast, and pilot Robert N. Elliott.
I Got a Name was released as planned on September 21. The posthumous release included the hits "Workin' at the Car Wash Blues," "I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song," and the title song, which had originally been used as the theme to the film The Last American Hero. The album reached #2 and "I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song" reached #9. Interest in the single "Time in a Bottle" was renewed after it was used in the ABC made-for-television movie She Lives!, which aired on September 12, 1973, and was further spurred by Croce's untimely death. The single was re-released, and on December 29, 1973 it became only the third posthumous #1 song in music history (the first two were Otis Redding's "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" and Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee"). A greatest hits compilation called Photographs and Memories was released in 1974.
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This page was last updated on 09/27/2017.