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New Book On Jim Croce

June 25, 2012 1:20 p.m.


Ingrid Croce, co-author of "I Got a Name," and owner Croces Restaurant

Jimmy Rock, musician, and co-author of "I Got a Name"

Related Story: New Book On Jim Croce


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

CAVANAUGH: Jim Croce was an American singer songwriter who released nine studio albums between 1966 and 1973, his single, bad bad Leroy brown and time in a bottle were both 100 hits on the Bill board charts. On September 20th, 1973, the very day his ABC single, I got a name was released, Croce and five others were filled in a plane crash. His wife, Ingrid Croce, has written a new book I about Jim Croce, it's coauthored with her new husband, Jimmy rock. The book is called I got a name, the Jim Croce story. So I'd like to welcome both Ingrid Croce and Jimmy Rock.

CROCE: Thank you.

ROCK: Thank you.

CROCE: It's good to be here.

CAVANAUGH: Ingrid, many San Diegans know about the Croce restaurant, and some are familiar with Jim Croce's music. But tell us, what made his music so special?

CROCE: Well, I think the thing that people hear when they listen to Jim is something that is honest, it's -- it resonates with people because they have felt those feelings themselves. And I think that what Jim has done with his music or what he did with his music was he became your friend. You took him with you wherever you went. And people felt that -- it was weird how people came up to me and still do every day, and say, you know, Jim felt like my best friend. And it was -- when he passed, it was -- I was devastated, whether they were 8 years old or whether they were 30 or 40. People felt that they were very close to him. And it was a very personal relationship.

CAVANAUGH: Through the songs that he wrote. Let's listen to his song that actually inspired the name of your book. The song is called I got a name.

(Audio Recording Played)

CAVANAUGH: That's Jim Croce singing I got a name. And Ingrid, I'm watching you smile with your eyes closed, it's almost like he's right here. You're right there with him still, isn't it? Now, this is not the first time that you've written about Jim. How is it different from the other books?

CROCE: Well, this is our story. This is the love story. It is the hero's journey. It holds nothing back. And it's -- it's everything that I can remember about our lives together. And it was my husband, Jimmy Rock and I, started this book 25 yearsing ago. We worked four years to gather all of the information from every relative, every friend, every person that had met Jim along the road that we could find. And once that happened, I wasn't ready to tell the story yet. There were things that were -- that I hadn't worked through yet. And I felt very fortunate and -- when I actually asked Jim, Jimmy Rock, to help me write the book, he was an attorney at the time. And he had a law office down the street from Croce's.

ROCK: Well, we had become engaged first, of course. And Ingrid was going through a process of telling different movie companies about her story because they wanted to make a movie. So I sat with Ingrid, and listened to her tell the story over and over again to all the different levels, and eventually to the script writer who had come back and wrote something that wasn't what she told them. And we did that process a couple of times and really kind of gave up on the process. They always wanted to tell their story and not her story. And then eventually, she turned to me and said I want to write a cookbook. And I said I've got a good friend who'd a literary agent, bill grad stone in Del Mar. He said, well, I can't really sell the cookbook, but if you write the biography, I can sell that.

CROCE: This was definitely prefood network. So people weren't into cookbooks like they are now. But I saw that was going to be happening.

CAVANAUGH: And you wrote a cookbook, yes.

CROCE: I started with it, we put this book away.


CROCE: And we wrote thyme in a bottle. It was a terrific cookbook and still is, and we've sold thousands and thousands of copies of the book. And we have a new cookbook that will be coming out as well. But that particular book is kind of -- it's our story, but there's only a few chapters that really -- that talk about Jim and Ingrid Croce. It's really the story of what happened the first 15 years at the restaurant.

CAVANAUGH: So this book, I have a name, this is a love story. You write that your love for Jim croachef is an intense and unbreakable bond, and there isn't a day in your life that goes by without him. So you said you weren't ready at that point to write the book. Why did you decide to write the book now?

CROCE: Well, when I had written this book, when Jim and I had written this book, I had started it many times. I had a pretty good memory of just about everything that happened, and I hadn't been able to figure out exactly why things had happened the way they had. And part of that came because of the '60s and the '70s. You know, women's rights weren't really established, and it's very ironic that the night Jim was killed in the plane crash, it was Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs who were doing the tennis match of the sexes, which gives you a period of time which gives you a feeling for what was going on. People didn't necessarily go to psychologists or psychiatrists to work things out back then the same way they do now. And after we had been married, I went on a fellowship to Mexico, and I had been raped. And after that happened, Jim became very different in our relationship. He -- all of the warmth, and the closeness was distancing itself. And he was holding back a lot. And I became much different as well. And it was only when we sang together that the love that we had for each other really just melted everything, it was just so close.

CAVANAUGH: There are -- some of his love letters to you in the book which are very beautiful. Are those difficult for you to share?

CROCE: Oh, no! I don't have -- right now I'm very -- I feel totally relieved by the fact that this story has been told. I feel that this is as honest a story as I could possibly tell. I understand it better than I ever did before. And I have to thank my husband, Jimmy Rock, for making this happen. I could not have done this without him, I don't think. I don't think that -- it was great therapy, I can tell you!


CAVANAUGH: So Jimmy, it must have been difficult for you, here you are, you're married to Ingrid, to cowrite a book with her about the love that she had for her previous husband:

ROCK: Well, we had thought gotten engaged, and this was 25 years ago, and I didn't want to do it at the time. She had to convince me to do it. But what really got to that point was that I saw these other people attempting to help her with this story, and finally a couple of ghost writers on the book, and nobody wanted to tell her story, so I knew what the story was, so we wrote it over a four-year period, 25 years ago. But it's only now that she's at that place emotionally where she's ready to share the story with the rest of the world. So it was a very rewarding experience for both of us, and certainly enriched my life, there's no doubt about it. And I think I helped her to heal.

CROCE: And also Jim had two friends that had passed away, the same year that Jim Croce died

ROCK: Yeah, in 1973. After I moved to San Diego, one of the widows came out here, and I said I'd love to get-together with her and talk about my old friends, and the message I got back was no, she doesn't go there anymore, she is remarried, she doesn't want to talk about the past. So something -- I lost something big during that time. So when I met Jim's family and friends, they all had big holes in their heart where Jim was once there. And so I knew I didn't want to steal that from anybody. And I needed to protect that story for friends, family, and fans. And that became a real goal for me.

CAVANAUGH: So now, Ingrid, do you feel different having written the book? How has it affected the way that you feel about your life and your current life even?

CROCE: I feel free. I feel a wonderful freedom. I believe that I've done the very best I could. Jim Croce was a very private man. He used to say of medussa, was personalities instead of snakes, she'd be Jim Croce. That's who he was. He was a complicated man. He was an intense person. He had an amazing charisma, and a great sense of humor. Photographic memory, read constantly. He was really, really really smart. And he put a lot of fences up around himself for lots of reasons. But I was a little cautious, and that's, you know, probably part of the reason I didn't want to tell the story.

CAVANAUGH: But your marriage wasn't perfect, I mean nobody's marriage is all roses all the way along. So what was the most difficult thing about writing this book for you?

CROCE: Well, I think that after the rape, the way in which Jim dealt with that was violent. It wasn't easy. And there was kind of a ticket to ride, so to speak. He had a -- he had kind of this feeling that I had done something wrong. You know, that was a difficult thing for me to deal with. I didn't think that I had done anything wrong. But I became convinced that I must have.

CAVANAUGH: So do you feel that writing this book has somehow or other helped to resolve that issue?

CROCE: Absolutely. It has -- not just there, but in life in general. I work with the center for community solutions, when I can, and rape crisis center, and I genuinely believe that you need to get out there and be a spokesperson. You need to be free to speak your mind and not be afraid, because it helps others to speak their mind and get free.

CAVANAUGH: Do you always feel like Jim Croce knows that you wrote the book even though he's not here now?

CROCE: Well, I joke about it, we joke about it sometimes, I kind of feel like in some ways, Jim sent me. We were just talking about this today. Maybe you can speak to it

ROCK: You're doing just great. Go ahead.


CROCE: Okay! Well, it's just how many things are connected. To this whole thing. His being an attorney, and his being able to -- knowing the music, he's also a musician, and understanding, you know, the scope of the story in the '60s and the '70s. He was a perfect partner to be able to help me to write this. So I'm very, very satisfied -- and I hope others will be too that the story has been told with lots of love. Arlow Guthrie did a difficult job with the introduction. And I'm just very hopeful that when people read this book, they feel closer to Jim Croce and to his music.

CAVANAUGH: Well, thank you very much. That's a good place to end. It was a very moving book. I'd like to thank you very much. That's Ingrid Croce, and Jimmy Rock, coauthors of the book, I knot a name, the Jim Croce story.