James Joseph Croce (January 10, 1943 – September 20, 1973) was an American folk and rock singer-songwriter. Between 1966 and 1973, Croce released five studio albums and numerous singles.
His first two albums were commercially unsuccessful, failing to chart or produce any hit singles. During this period, Croce took a series of odd jobs to pay bills while he continued to write, record, and perform concerts. After forming a partnership with songwriter and guitarist Maury Muehleisen his fortunes turned in the early 1970s. His breakthrough came in 1972; his third album You Don’t Mess Around with Jim produced three charting singles, including “Time in a Bottle”, which reached No. 1 after his death. The follow-up album, Life and Times, contained the song “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”, which was the only No. 1 hit he had during his lifetime.
On September 20, 1973, the day before the lead single to his fifth album, I Got a Name, was released, Croce, along with five others, was killed in a plane crash, at the height of his popularity. Croce’s music continued to chart throughout the 1970s following his death. His wife, Ingrid Croce, was his early songwriting partner and she continued to write and record after his death, and his son A. J. Croce himself became a singer-songwriter in the 1990s.