Today, September 20, marks the 41st anniversary of the death of singer-songwriter Jim Croce in a plane crash, traveling between two shows on the same day. He had just finished recording his album I Got a Name the week before his death. The title track of the album was scheduled for release as a single the following day.
While Croce’s talent as a songwriter is now considered iconic, Croce’s life in music was something of an irony. While he had been doing music off and on since the 1960s, and had even seen some chart success, he’d had a difficult time making his music career financially sustainable until “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” became a number-one hit in 1973. Even as his career began to take off and he began touring heavily, Croce had become homesick and wanted to return to a simpler life with his wife and child. A letter written to his wife, arriving by mail shortly after his death, revealed his intention to leave music and the public life behind when the tour was over.
“I Got a Name” was far from Croce’s greatest hit (it peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts), but as is so often the case with artists who suffer untimely deaths, Jim Croce’s music has continued to be popular long after his passing. Today, he’s remembered in many circles as one of America’s best-loved songwriters.
Of course, Croce predates the music video era—but here’s a clip of him performing “I Got a Name” on television before the single’s official release. Enjoy!