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September 04 , 2008



If you've been around as long as I have, you probably remember the songs of singer-songwriter Jim Croce. He grew up in South Philly, watching performances of Fats Domino and the Coasters on TV's American Bandstand. He looked like a tough guy, but everyone who knew him said he has a big, warm fun-loving heart.

Jim Croce spent the first decade of his adult life toiling in a series of day jobs: teaching emotionally disturbed children, working in a hospital, driving trucks, operating a jackhammer at construction sites. At night, he would sing and play guitar in coffeehouses. He wasn't waiting for his big break- he was hustling for it. When he was twenty-nine, Jim Croce finally landed his first recording contract. His first album, You Don't Mess Around With Jim, was completed quickly, many of the songs being recorded in just one or two takes.

Once the album was released, Croce's music, an acoustic blend of folk and rock, caught on fast. The first two singles released from that album quickly became number one hits on AM radio, and Jim Croce became a star. His long- delayed dream had finally come true. Hisfirst two hits were upbeat roack ballads. His record company decided to release a third song from the album-a soft plaintive song called "Time in a Bottle".

It was about how precious each moment of life is and how quickly those moments pass, never to come again. The song wistfully recounted the things Croce would do if only he could keep time in a bottle and pour out extra hours whenever he needed them. Before "Time in a Bottle" could be released, Jim Croce proved that the words of that song were truer than he realized.
On September 20, 1973, after performing in a concert at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Lousiana, Croce boarded a small chartered plane along with a flight crew and members of his band. The heavily loaded plane clipped a tree as it took off. Like Croce's career, the plane had barely gotten off the ground before it crashed. Jim croce was dead at age thirty.

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