Jim Croce (1943-1973), musician and songwriter, is sometimes categorized as pop and sometimes as folk. Born in Philadelphia to an Italian-American family, he attended college at Villanova and mixed playing guitar with working as an accordianist, construction worker, and writing soul jingles for an R & B radio station. His first album was You Don't Mess Around with Jim, and his second, Life and Times, contained the hit "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," which is probably his most familiar song--although my favorite is definitely "Time in a Bottle," which is my personal most romantic song of all time. Croce didn't become a big star, though, continuing to tour mostly college campuses. He died in a plane crash at the age of thirty, just as he was finally beginning to enjoy some popular success with the top two positions on Billboard's best-selling LP charts. Recommended to fans of Don McLean, John Denver, and such.

And it should definitely be noted that the deft guitar-playing of Maury Muehleisen was integral to Croce's songs. Croce did most of the vocals and songwriting himself, but Muehleisen's guitar was equally important.

Along with Croce, one of the greatest acoustic guitar players in pop history also died. Maury Muehleisen is the one playing those sweet, sweet licks on such songs as Operator (my favorite). Three other folks also died in that crash on September 20, 1973.

Their Beechcraft D-18 charter plane snagged the top of a pecan tree just past the end of the runway after a concert at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

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