Jim Croce was born in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 10, 1943. He attended Villanova University where was a member of the Villanova Singers and the Villanova Spires also known as The Coventry Lads. Jim also performed at fraternity parties, coffee houses, and universities around Philadelphia. He met his future wife Ingrid Jacobson at a hootenanny at Philadelphia Convention Hall. From the mid-1960s to early 1970s, they performed as a duo. In 1968, the Croces moved to New York City and recorded an album, “Jim & Ingrid Croce,” with Capitol Records. During the next two years, they played small clubs and the college concert circuit.
In 1972, Croce signed a three-record solo deal with ABC Records. His first album “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim”, contained the title hit and “Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels)”. “Time In A Bottle” from the album, would become a posthumous hit. His hits “One Less Set of Footsteps” and “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” were contained on his second ABC album, “Life And Times”.
Reportedly most of the income from his records was recouped by the record company for recording costs, so Croce depended upon live performances for his income and therefore toured extensively. On Thursday, September 20, 1973, the day before his single “I Got a Name” was released, Croce was killed when the chartered Beechcraft E18S he was traveling in crashed while taking off from the Natchitoches Regional Airport in Natchitoches, Louisiana. “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”, which had been released in April 1973 and peaked at number one three months later, was still on the charts when Croce died.
Jim Croce died at the peak of his career and many of his recordings, including some of his biggest hits, were released after his death. His singles “Bad Bad Leroy Brown”, and “Time In A Bottle” both reached #1 and received Gold Record awards from the RIAA, as did his albums “Life and Times”, “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” and “I Got a Name”. His posthumous album “Photographs & Memories, his Greatest Hits” was certified Platinum.
Croce’s album “I Got a Name” was released on December 1, 1973 after its title song had become a top ten followed by the tracks “Workin’ At The Car Wash Blues”, “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song”. In addition, “Time in a Bottle” had been featured over the opening and closing credits and during a scene in the ABC made-for-television movie “She Lives!” which aired the week just prior to the plane crash, reviving interest in that song and propelling it, as well as in Croce’s first album, to #1.
Jim Croce’s popularity after his death was so great that it led to the release of his live and demo recordings as well as many compilations of released and unreleased studio tracks.