Jim Croce recorded two albums in the late sixties, one as a solo artist and one as duo with his wife Ingrid. Nothing productive came from the releases, and they retreated from New York City and lived in a farmhouse in Pennsylvania.
Jim was introduced to Maury Muehleisen, another singer/guitarist, and the two of them worked up an act over the next two years. Jim signed a contract with ABC Records and had an immediate top ten record with You Don’t Mess Around With Jim. Two more almost successful singles followed in the next year. The more successful single was Operator, which managed to get up to #17 in 1972. Several of Jim and Maury’s live shows were recorded, so we can still see the two of them singing harmonies and playing guitar together.
I went to hear Jim live in concert with my friends Carl and Diane on April 1, 1973, in Nashville. Carl noticed that while Jim often told folksy stories about the songs he had written, when he played one of his singles he simply launched right in without saying a word. That pattern made it clear that his next single would be Bad, Bad Leroy Brown. Sure enough, two weeks later the single was released, and in July the record reached the top of the charts.
Sadly, in September Jim and Maury died in a plane crash. His last album was released a week later and a handful of singles followed before all his music was turned to vinyl.