Jim Croce Tribute

On September 20, 1973 : Jim Croce dies at the age of 30

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For Jim Croce, the touring life meant mostly one small collage campus after another. When he was killed at age 30 on September 20, 1973 in Natchitoches, LA., he was doing what he had done many times before - - taking off at night in a light plane from a small airstrip.The plane snagged in a treetop at the end of the dim runway outside Natchitoches La., and sent 30 year old Jim and five others to their deaths. Maury Muehleisen, Jim's lead guitarist and constant companion, also died in the crash.

In a burst of discovery, the U.S. record-buying public was making it up to Croce. You Don't Mess Around With Jim , his first solo LP, had tripled it's sales and has jumped past the 1 million mark. And was No. 1 on Billboard's chart of bestselling LP's. Croce also occupied the No. 2 position with I Got A Name, recorded only a week before his death. As if that were not enough, at No. 22 was a third Croce album. Life and Times (released in January 1973).

His death left his wife, Ingrid Croce truly alone. She had already lost both her parents, and after the fatal accident, at age 26, she was instantly transformed into a single mother and thrust into 12 years of legal litigation to retrieve the right to her husband's royalties.

Two years later her only son, Adrian James, now 26, suffered a neurological disease that left him with limited eyesight. And her own singing career was dashed when surgery damaged her vocal cords.

Now, at age 50, Ingrid Croce is a success story. She owns two restaurants and three bars in the Gaslamp district of San Diego, including one named Croce's Restaurant and Jazz Bar. A giant mural portrait of Jim Croce takes up the back wall of that restaurant, and Ingrid says it serves as an inspiration to her ``to build a community for me and Jim's memories.''

Adrian is a talented, young singer, pianist and songwriter, with a voice, stage presence and sensibility aged well beyond his 26 years, specializing in an up-tempo brand of jazz.

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