- NAME: Jim Croce
- OCCUPATION: Guitarist, Singer
- BIRTH DATE: January 10, 1943
- DEATH DATE: September 20, 1973
- EDUCATION: Upper Darby High School, Villanova University
- PLACE OF BIRTH: South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- PLACE OF DEATH: Natchitoches, Louisiana
- Full Name: James Joseph Croce
- AKA: Jim Croce
- AKA: James Croce
Best Known For
Jim Croce was an American folk singer and songwriter. He released five studio albums between 1966 and 1973, before his untimely death in 1973.
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Jim Croce was born on January 10, 1943, in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He started playing the accordion at age 5, and by his 20s, was touring in multiple folk bands. He released five studio albums and 11 singles. "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and "Time in a Bottle" were both No. 1 hits on the American charts. He died in a tragic plane crash in Natchitoches, Louisiana, on September 20, 1973, at the age of 30.
"If you dig it, do it. If you dig it a lot, do it twice."
"I can still get my guitar off faster than anyone else."
"I'm no missionary, and I can't wear any armor, either. I just gotta be the way I am."
American folk singer, songwriter and performer Jim Croce was born James Joseph Croce on January 10, 1943, in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Italian-Americans Jim and Flora Croce. Raised listening to ragtime and country music, Croce picked up music at a young age. He learned to play his first song on the accordion, "Lady of Spain," when he was 5. He eventually taught himself to play guitar.
Croce attended Upper Darby High School in Drexel Hill, and graduated in 1960. After a short stint in the U.S. Army, he enrolled at Villanova University in Pennsylvania in 1961. It was not until his freshman year of college that Croce began taking music more seriously. He played in several bands, performing at fraternity parties and at other universities around Philadelphia. During this time, one of Croce's bands was chosen for a foreign exchange tour of Africa and the Middle East. He later described the experience fondly, saying, "We just ate what the people ate, lived in the woods, and played our songs. Of course they didn't speak English over there, but if you mean what you're singing, people understand."
After graduation, Croce worked on construction crews and taught guitar at a summer camp. He also worked as a teacher at a junior high school in South Philadelphia.
Croce met his future wife, Ingrid Jacobson, at a folk music party. They wed in 1966. From the mid-1960s to early 1970s, Croce and Jacobson performed as a duo. At first, they sang covers by musicians like Joan Baez and Woody Guthrie, but were soon writing their own music. Croce landed a regular gig at a steak house in Lima, Pennsylvania.
In 1968, record producer Tommy West, who had attended Villanova with Croce, encouraged Croce and Jacobson to try their luck in New York City. West introduced the couple to Terry Cashman, who helped produce their first album, Jim and Ingrid Croce, with Capitol Records. Over the next two years, they drove more than 300,000 miles, playing college and coffeehouse circuits and collecting guitars.
Croce and his wife became disillusioned with both the music business and New York City, so they sold their guitars and moved to the Pennsylvania countryside of Lyndell, where they had their son, Adrian James, in 1971. Jacobson learned to bake bread and can fruits and vegetables. Croce got a job driving trucks and working construction, and continued to write songs, often about the people he would meet at bars and truck stops while working.
In 1970, one of Croce's former college friends, Joe Salviuolo, also known as Sal Joseph, introduced Croce to Maury Muehleisen, a classically trained pianist, guitarist and singer-songwriter from Trenton, New Jersey.
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