James Joseph Croce (January 10, 1943 -- September 20, 1973), popularly known as Jim Croce (pronounced CRO-chee), was an American singer-songwriter.
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 Upper Darby High School's Wall of Fame. While attending Villanova University (1965 graduate), Croce was a student deejay at WXVU, became interested in becoming a professional musician, and met his future wife, Ingrid Jacobson, at a hootenanny at Convention Hall in Philadelphia, where he was a judge for a contest. When they married he converted to Judaism.
Croce, 30, and Muehleisen, 24, died in a small commercial plane crash on September 20, 1973, one day before his third ABC album, I Got a Name was to be released. 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."
Croce had just completed a concert in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and was flying to Sherman, Texas. The pilot and all passengers (Croce, Muehleisen, and the comic who was the show's warm up act) were killed instantly at 10:45 PM EST on September 20, 1973, less than an hour after the end of their last concert. Upon takeoff, the plane did not gain enough altitude to clear an area of large pecan trees at the end of the runway. The official report from the NTSB hints that the charter pilot, Robert Newton Elliott, who had severe coronary artery disease and had run a portion of the 3 miles to the airport from a motel, may have suffered a heart attack causing him to crash into the trees on a clear runway with excellent visibility. A later investigation placed sole blame for the accident on pilot error.
Croce was laid to rest in the Philadelphia area, even though he had recently relocated to San Diego. Family, friends, and fans were stunned to learn of the premature demise of two gifted, gentle, and unpretentious singer-songwriters, who were taken well before their time.
News of the premature deaths of the duo sparked a massive interest in Jim's first two albums -- "You Don't Mess Around With Jim" and "Life and Times" - as well as the "I Got A Name" single, which was released later that same week. This was followed closely by the release of the album of the same title. Sales soared and resulted in three gold records. A "Greatest Hits" package released in 1974 also proved to be extraordinarily popular. The catalogue became a staple of radio play, turntables, cassettes, and CDs for years, and is still receiving significant airplay in the first decade of the 21st century.
Jim Croce website
VDO of Jim Croce singing