Jim Croce was born in South Philadelphia, January 10, 1943, and a life-long fascination with music began shortly thereafter.
Jim and Ingrid Jacobson, a girl he had first met during his collegiate years, were married in 1966 and for a time earned their living as a performing duo.
They traveled extensively throughout the East and South playing colleges, bars and coffee houses.
“My wife was into the ceramics and leather thing while I was trying to show ten year old kids who had been studying harmony and theory for years that music could still be fun.”
In October he landed a job teaching Special Education classes at a South Philadelphia junior high.
“I’ve still got scars on my hands from the knife wounds,” he says. “I was the seventh teacher since that September.” It’s no wonder that he quit after that first year.
It is a wonder, however, that he lasted as long as he did.
“My job was, essentially, to teach the unteachable. They couldn’t even read, so I’d tape songs by Supremes and the Drifters, then we’d study the lyrics as I played the tunes on the guitar.
They loved it and were really getting somewhere, but it was a little too unorthodox for the Administration.”
In 1969 they recorded an album, “Jim and Ingrid Croce,” for Capitol Records, but when the record failed to become a big seller, they gave up touring and moved to rural Lyndell, Pennsylvania.
Jim drove trucks, swung a hammer and played music in local bars during the evening hours.
Ingrid baked bread, canned vegetables and made pottery, and in 1970 became pregnant with their first child, Adrian James.
Faced with an imminent additional mouth to feed, Jim turned his sights once again to music, and sitting at his kitchen table, he wrote in just 10 days “Time in a Bottle,” “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim,” “New York’s Not My Home,” “Photographs and Memories” and “Operator.”
In the midst of his success, Croce was starting to get burned out. An extensive tour had earned him rave reviews throughout the U.S. and Europe, but it had also prevented him from spending time with his wife, Ingrid, and two-year-old son, Adrian.
In the midst of touring to promote ‘Life and Times,’ Croce also was recording his next album, ‘I Got a Name,’ to be released by the end of the year.
The singer had wrapped up the recording sessions and was nearing the end of his tour when tragedy struck on Sept. 20, 1973.
Following a gig at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La., Croce boarded a small chartered plane to travel to his next show in Sherman, Texas. Sadly, the plane never made it much past the runway.
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, his guitarist Maury Muehleisen, comedian George Stevens, manager/booking agent Kenneth D. Cortose, road manager Dennis Rast and pilot Robert N. Elliott.