"I'm no missionary," says Jim Croce about his songs, "and I can't wear any armour, either. I just gotta be the way I
am." Jim's musical career started when he was five years old, learning to play "Lady of Spain" on the accordian. He says, "I was the original underachiever. I'd shake that thing and smile, but I was sort of a late bloomer." He didn't really take music too seriously until 1964, while he was attending Villanova Collage in Pennsylvania. There he formed various bands, doing fraternity parties and playing "anything that the people wanted to hear: blues, rock, a capella, railroad music... anything." One of the bands was chosen for a foreign exchange tour of Africa and the Middle East. "We had a good time," Jim recalls. "We just ate what the people ate, lived in the woods, and played our songs. Of course, they didn't speak English over there... but if you mean what you're singing, people understand."

He returned to Philadelphia and had decided to be "serious". But it was hard to make a living playing in a band, and his
previous employment experiences had lost their appeal: "I'd worked construction crews, and I'd been a welder while I was in collage. But I'd rather do other things than get burned." Like most underachieving accordian players, he had a hard time finding the right other things. His determination to be serious (I even got a pair of those shoes that look like the Ace of Spades, with holes in them") led to a job at a Philadelphia R&B radio station, where he translated commercials into Soul. "I'd sell airtime to Bronco's Poolroom, and then write the spot: 'You wanna be cool, and you wanna shoot pool... (dig it)'." Increasingly frustated, he quit to teach guitar at a summer camp ("to people who had to wear loafers 'cause they couldn't tie their shoes'") and even enlisted in the U. S. Army. He didn't have a very illustrious military career, but says he's prepared if there's ever a war where we have to defend ourselves with mops.

Back to the radio station again, briefly ("that was about the end of my seriousness"), and then he tried teaching "special
education" to discipline problem students in a Philadelphia high school. Finally he decided to give his music a chance.

He'd been playing some pretty tough bars ("I can still get my guitar off faster than anyone else"), then he and his wife, Ingrid, moved to New York and began working coffee houses. Tommy West, who had attended Villanova Collage with Jim, introduced them to Terry Cashman, and in 1969, Cashman and West produced their album, "Jim and Ingrid". They remained on the coffee house circuit for a year and a half, involving themselves in the music business and collecting guitars. But, they soon became discouraged by the agitation and pressures of city life, and moved to Lyndell, Pennsylvania, where they had their son, Adrian James. Ingrid learned to bake bread and to can fruits and vegetables and Jim, like a rich lady selling her jewels, sold the guitars he had accumulated, one by one. When the guitars ran out, he worked construction again and did some studio work in New York. "Mostly background 'oohs' and 'ahhs' for commercials. I kept thinking, 'may'be tomorrow I'll sing some words".

Terry Cashman and Tommy West, who knew that Jim's talents could be put to better use, were still trying to convince him to do another album and get back into performing. Life in Lyndell was calmer than it had been in New York and Philadelphia and finally Jim decided that he could resume playing and still have time to write songs and be with his family.
His first album, "You Don't Mess Around With Jim", was an instant success. Jim immediately became a top bill club and
concert performer and the title song and "Operator," pulled from the album, were both highly successful singles. The friendliness and sincerity of Jim's performances have endeared him to a wide variety of audiences.

"Well," laughed Jim, "I'm glad I'm not running any more jackhammers. It's a lot easier to have a good time. I think music should make people sit back and want to touch each other... I just hope people get a kick out of it."

Since his first album things have been strictly uphill for Jim. "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," which was culled from the second LP entitled "Life and Times," reached the top of the national pop charts before it went Gold. Jim's latest album is called "I've Got A Name" and the title cut is part of the soundtrack for 20th Century Fox's new film, "The Last American Hero." Many other things are being planned for the unlikely hero from Philly, including appearances in films as well as more soundtrack offers.
Jim Croce-- "I've Got A Name". He certainly has.

Midi Collection