Relive The Final Performance Of Jim Croce
via Eric Schneck/YouTube
A Tragic End
1973 was supposed to be a great year for Jim Croce. After years of performing in bars and coffee houses, he finally had his big break in 1972 with the release of You Don’t Mess Around with Jim. Both the title track and Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels) cracked the top 20 on the US Billboard Hot 100. He also appeared on several TV shows.
In early 1973, he and guitarist Maury Muehleisen toured around Europe and on June 15, he co-hosted The Midnight Special. The touring eventually took its toll on him. He was homesick and he missed his wife Ingrid and their two-year old son Adrian James (A.J.) terribly. So, even while he was on his way to the top, he decided to retire from the music industry and instead, focus on writing short stories and movie scripts.
But on September 20, 1973, he performed at Northwestern State University’s Prather Coliseum in Natchitoches, Louisiana for the last time. He even played the single I Got A Name which was released a day after his death. After the show, he was off to Sherman, Texas for a concert. During takeoff, their chartered plane crashed into a pecan tree. He and five others (pilot Robert N. Elliott, Maury Muehleisen, George Stevens, manager and booking agent Kenneth D. Cortese and road manager Dennis Rast) were killed.
A week after his death, his widow Ingrid received the letter he wrote while on tour. It said, “Remember, it’s the first 60 years that count and I’ve got 30 to go. I love you.”
Jim Croce Sept. 20, 1973 Setlist
1. Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy)
2. Workin At The Car Wash Blues
3. Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)
4. Roller Derby Queen
5. Lover’s Cross
7. Speedball Trucker
8. I Got A Name
9. Top Hat Bar And Grille
10. Bad, Bad Leroy Brown