Jim Croce – What Could Have Been?

Music | July 27, 2018

Photo of Jim CROCE UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Jim CROCE; performing live onstage (Photo by Charlie Gillett/Redferns)

Jim Croce was a young musician trying to make his way back in the day of the counterculture, hippies and all things groovy. He spent most of his musical career playing gigs wherever he could find them. Often, he found himself touring and playing at one college campus after another.

Jim Croce was quite a character and was known for his “between sets” entertainment.

Croce, playing mostly small venues throughout his short career, was very in tune with is audiences which were mostly small and intimate. Between songs and sets, he was very animated and would continue to entertain his audiences with amusing stories and “raps.”  

For several years Croce and his wife, Ingrid, performed as a duo, covering songs by Ian & Sylvia, Gordon Lightfoot, Joan Baez, and Arlo Guthrie.

Beginning in the mid-60’s through the early 70’s, Jim Croce and his wife performed at small venues including fraternity parties, college campuses, bars, clubs and coffee houses. During this time, they performed songs by then current artists and were really good at it. Their set lists included blues, country rock and folk music. They had a lot of promise.

A bar and steakhouse, of all things, was Croce’s first big long-term gig in a small town in Pennsylvania.

It wasn’t long after that Croce and his wife began writing their own songs. Croce was a great story teller and put his stories to music. He met up with a studio producer through his job selling airtime at a radio station and landed a 3 album contract.

In all, Croce released 5 studio albums before he died in a tragic plane crash.

Jim Croce often traveled by small planes to get to different venues to perform. On night after performing at Northwestern College, he took off in a plane, in the dark. The light plane left from a small airstrip and soon got snagged in a treetop. The plane, tragically, went down just after takeoff. Croce and 5 other people, including his lead guitarist, Maury Muehleisen, lost their lives that night.

Croce’s last gig was in competition for audiences with “The Battle of the Sexes” in 1973 featuring Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

The night that Jim Croce lost his life in that accident, he had just finished playing his last gig. Unfortunately, is wasn’t well attended because he was in competition with another event. The “Battle of the Sexes.” At the time Billie Jean King’s and Bobby Rigg’s tennis match won out in the ratings.  

Croce was a talented artist who could have gone on to do bigger and better things. He recorded 3 albums that earned Gold status.

Jim Croce’s studio albums included:

  • Facets, released in 1966;
  • Jim & Ingrid Croce, released in 1969;
  • You Don’t Mess Around with Jim, released in 1972;
  • Life and Times, released in 1972; and,
  • I Got a Name, released in 1973.

Croce was a talented song writer and released many awesome songs. A few of these epic songs include Time in a Bottle, I Got a Name, I’ll Have to say I Love You in a Song, You Don’t Mess Around with Jim and Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.

It is interesting to note that You Don’t Mess Around with Jim and Bad, Bad Leroy Brown are basically the same song with different characters. Both songs have the same tune and chords as well as telling the story of a hustler. Leroy Brown hustled women and Big Jim hustled pool. In the end, they both got more than they bargained for.  

Jim Croce was taken too soon and definitely left us wanting more!

Croce’s final album was released after his death and earned a Gold certification like 2 others. Even since his death, over 20 other albums of his work have been released begging the question, “what could have been?”

Tags: Jim Croce | The 1970s | What Did He Do?... | Tennis In The 1970s

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Rebeka Knott


Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.