James Joseph Croce, known popularly as Jim Croce, was an American folk and rock singer. Over the course of his career, he released five studio albums and several hit singles such as ‘Bad, Bad Leroy Brown’ and ‘Time in a Bottle’, which peaked at the first position on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. The popular singles released by him also include ‘You Don’t Mess Around With Jim’ and ‘I’ve Got a Name’. Croce was born to an Italian American working class family in Philadelphia, the US. At an early age, he learnt to play the accordion and then he started playing the guitar. Though he went to the Villanova University to pursue a degree in psychology, he used to spend most of his time with musical bands or performing musical solos. He performed in hundreds of concerts in his career and also made guest appearances in several TV shows. In an unfortunate twist of fate, Croce was killed in a plane crash at the age of 30.
Jim Croce started taking music seriously while he was studying at the Villanova University. He formed bands and performed at parties, coffee houses, and even other universities. Soon, his band got selected for a foreign exchange tour of Africa, the Middle East, and Yugoslavia. He released his first album ‘Facets’ in 1966. The album was financed with only $500 dollars. His parents financed the album with the hope that it wouldn’t be a success and he would give up his career in music. However, the album was a success with every copy being sold. It was also during this time that he married his wife Ingrid Jacobson. For several years, the couple performed together as a duo. In 1967, he released his second album ‘Jim & Ingrid Croce’ along with his wife.
Croce signed a three-record contract with ABC Records in 1972. Shortly after, he released his third album ‘You Don’t Mess Around With Jim’. The album was a huge hit, peaking at the first position on the US Billboard 200 and also on the Canadian RPM 100. The single ‘You Don’t Mess Around’ became one of the most successful singles of his entire career.
His next album ‘Life and Times’ was also a major success. It appeared on multiple charts including the Canadian RPM 100 at the 1st position and the US Billboard 200 at the 7th. The single ‘Bad, Bad Leroy Brown’ became very popular and topped several charts.
Jim Croce’s fifth and final album was ‘I’ve Got a Name’ which was released posthumously in December 1973. It was a success like his previous albums and appeared on multiple charts including the US Billboard 200, where it stood at the 2nd position, and the Canadian RPM chart where it stood at the same position. ‘I’ve Got a Name’, ‘Washing at the Car Wash Blues’ and ‘Age’ were the most successful singles of the album.
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Jim Croce was born on 10th January 1943 in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the US. His parents were James Albert Croce and Flora Mary. He studied at the Malvern Preparatory School and later at the Villanova University, majoring in psychology with a minor in German. He graduated in 1965.
He met his future wife Ingrid Jacobson at a concert in 1963. They got married in 1966. As his wife was Jewish, he converted to Judaism.
He died in a plane crash on 20th September 1973, when the plane he was travelling in crashed into a tree while taking off from the Natchitoches Regional Airport. The crash led to the death of many passengers including the pilot. Jim Croce left behind his wife and son Adrian James Croce.