“When I was growing up, I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast,” says Ingrid Croce, who recalls the first record she ever bought as “Either ‘Mack the Knife,’ by Bobby Darin, or ‘Rockin’ Robin,’ by Bobby Day. I was 11 or 12...[I also had] a 78 of ‘Tutti Frutti,’ by Little Richard.”
Asked who in her family she most takes after, she says “My dad, Dr. Sidney Jacobson, and my mom Shirley. I’m equal parts of them both. My mom was a piano player who had her own local TV show, The Magic Lady, and I would sing for her until she died when I was 15. She was also magic at catering parties. My dad passed away when I was 19, but his humanity, work ethic, and excellence are what I strive to achieve every day.”
As for her first husband, singer/songwriter Jim Croce, “When Jim and I fell crazy in love, we were just kids,” she recalls. “When we met in the early ’60s, I was a teenager, and Jim was a sophomore at Villanova University. Music brought us together, and it was the music business that not only tested our relationship but plagued it, constantly challenging our survival.”
She and Croce were soon singing together as a duo. “Because I had suffered through my parents’ divorce and moved from school to school, I longed for stability. I recognized that playing music gave Jim confidence, and I liked the feeling of singing with him. He was a good teacher, and I was a good student. I hoped in time to become something more.” Her hopes were more than realized. They married, as well as recorded a 1969 album together for Capitol Records.
“I would have loved singing with Jim forever. It was like making love. Well, almost.”
The Croces, with their son A.J. (now a successful recording artist), had barely settled his family in San Diego when he perished in a plane crash September 20, 1973, at the age of 30.
A.J. Croce was a week past his second birthday, his father died. A few years after A.J. and his mother Ingrid arrived in San Diego, he developed a brain tumor that cost him his eyesight. This was the beginning of what would become a success story for this nearly native San Diegan.
By his early teens, A.J. Croce had regained most of the vision in his left eye and become an accomplished piano player and songsmith. Supporting his musical endeavors was his mom, Ingrid.
Beginning in 1974, Ingrid helped open a new Point Loma children’s school, wrote a children’s book (Mirandome), and recorded a couple of solo albums, until tumors on her vocal chords sidelined her music career in 1984.
The following year, she launched Croce’s nightclub and restaurant, an early linchpin in downtown’s unlikely transition from sailors-on-shore-leave decadence to Gaslamp glitterati.
In summer 2011, a UK reissue of Ingrid and Jim Croce’s 1968 album Croce, reissued by Cherry Red Records, rated three stars and a good review in Record Collector magazine, issue #389.
As of 2012, her twin sister Phyllis works in fashion jewelry at Nordstrom’s Fashion Valley. A new biography, I Got a Name: The Jim Croce Story, co-written by Ingrid Croce and her second husband Jimmy Rock, hit bookstores in summer 2012.
Ingrid told the Reader “Our goal was to tell the story of Jim Croce for his fans, and for folks to understand where Jim’s songs came from.”
Asked what she thinks is the moist underrated Jim Croce song, she says “This one’s hard to answer because there are several. But to name a few, ‘Box #10,’ ‘Workin’ at the Carwash Blues,’ and ‘It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way’ are all somewhat obscure, and they should be classics. They truly articulate the human condition in under two-and-a-half minutes. Not an easy task.”