James Joseph "Jim" Croce (10 January 1943, South Philadelphia, Penn – 20 September 1973, Natchitoches, La.) was an American folk and popular rock singer of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Between 1966 and 1973, Croce released five studio albums and 11 singles. His singles "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and "Time in a Bottle" both reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Croce took a strong interest in music at a young age. At five, he learned to play his first song on the accordion, "Lady of Spain." After high school, he studied at Malvern Preparatory School for a year before enrolling at Villanova University, where he majored in psychology and minored in German. Croce was a member of the Villanova Singers and the Villanova Spires. Croce was also a student disc jockey at WKVU.
Croce did not take music seriously until he studied at Villanova, where he formed bands and performed at fraternity parties, coffee houses, and universities around Philadelphia, playing "anything that the people wanted to hear. Croce released his first album, Facets, in 1966, which sold all 500 copies pressed.
From the mid-1960s to early 1970s, Croce performed with his wife as a duo. At first, their performances included songs by artists such as Ian and Sylvia, Gordon Lightfoot, Joan Baez, and Woody Guthrie, but in time they began writing their own music. In 1972, Croce signed a three-record contract with ABC Records, releasing two albums, You Don't Mess Around with Jim and Life and Times. The singles You Don't Mess Around with Jim, Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels), and Time in a Bottle (written for his then-unborn son, A. J. Croce) all received airplay. Croce's biggest single, Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, reached Number 1 on the American charts in July 1973. Also that year, the Croces moved to San Diego, California.
Croce was killed in a plane crash in 1973 in Louisiana.
Works for Winds
- Bad, Bad Leroy Brown
- Five Short Minutes
- Time in a Bottle
- Tribute to Jim Croce (arr. Gilman) (1974)
- You Don't Mess Around with Jim