Remembering Jim Croce on the anniversary of his tragic death

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Jim Croce

This Monday marked a melancholy anniversary in both Louisiana history and music history.

On September 20, 1973, Jim Croce and five other people died in a plane crash after performing at Prather Coliseum on the campus of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches.

Croce had just finished an international tour and after the show in Natchitoches, was supposed to head to Sherman, Texas, for a show at Austin College.

Not long after takeoff, their chartered plane crashed into a pecan tree at the end of the runway. The plane did not get high enough to clear the tree and it is believed that the haze severely reduced visibility that night.

The tragic accident was attributed to pilot error and left no survivors. Others killed in the crash were pilot Robert N. Elliott, Maury Muehleisen, comedian George Stevens, manager and booking agent Kenneth D. Cortese and road manager Dennis Rast. It was later revealed that Elliott suffered from a heart condition that may have contributed to the crash.

Known for his many hit singles such as “Bad Bad Leroy Brown”, “Time in a Bottle”, and “I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song”, Croce was a popular hitmaker of the 1970′s. He died the day before the lead single to his fifth album I Got A Name was released.

Accounts from his concert in Natchitoches, claim that nearly 2,000 people were in attendance for what would be the last time he would ever perform. His wife Ingrid, revealed that she received a letter from Croce just after his death.

The letter expressed that Croce had grown weary of the road and wanted to spend more time with Ingrid, and their son A.J. The letter even goes on to say that Croce wanted to write movie scripts and short stories as a new creative outlet.

Ingrid Croce honored her husband’s legacy and contribution to American music through a book she published in 2012 entitled I Got A Name: The Jim Croce Story.

Ingrid Croce maintains a website and social media blogs where she honors Jim’s memory to this very day.

This article originally appeared on Leesville Daily Leader: Remembering Jim Croce on the anniversary of his tragic death