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New Book Tells Story of Jim Croce

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As a longtime fan of Jim Croce, the working class troubadour who died in plane crash almost 40 years ago, I was intrigued that he was the subject of a new biography written by his widow, Ingrid.

Several weeks ago, the nice folks at Da Capo Press sent me a copy of “I Got A Name: The Jim Croce Story,” which Ingrid Croce wrote with her husband, Jimmy Rock. It’s a fine book because it honestly shows what happens when success and fame fall on a young couple with no warning. What’s sad is Jim’s premature death ensured that he never got to really enjoy any of this. He was victimized by an an awful, hastily agreed-upon contract that required him to tour non-stop. And, of course, drugs and women got in the way.

What are some other fun facts about the Philadelphia bred singer-songwriter and his abbreviated life?

–Was a great cook.

–Long before he became a solo star, he performed and toured with Ingrid, whom he met when she performed at a Philadelphia radio station in 1963.

–Croce fans will enjoy the stories behind the songs. Here’s one of my favorites: The title character in “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” is named after a drill sergeant Croce had during boot camp.

–Had terrible luck with cars.

–Among the jobs Croce had before he became a star performer were selling ads for a Philadelphia radio station and teaching junior high school. He was fired from the latter job because he played the guitar in class, a method he felt got a rowdy collection of students to learn.

–Converted to Judaism so he could marry Ingrid.

–Ingrid, to her immense credit, details the ups and downs of their marriage. Sadly, she was raped during a vacation sans Jim in Mexico, an act that Jim–to put it mildly–didn’t handle well.

–Jim’s mother blamed him for the death of his father. Part of her attack, according to Ingrid, included this gem: “You and your music killed him!”

–There was a talk of Croce, a gifted storyteller, serving as a guest host for “The Tonight Show.”

–Wrote thank-you notes to DJs, concert promoters, and others who were allies in his music career.

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