It took 25 years for Ingrid Croce to bring the story of her late first husband to publication with the recent release of “I Got a Name: The Jim Croce Story.” Now she’s focused on finding the right partners to bring the saga of the legendary music man to screen.
“We were approached three times in the past and actually entered into preproduction. But in every case, it wasn’t time,” she says. Names including Edward James Olmos, Mandy Patinkin and Andy Garcia were loosely attached to Croce bio-pics that never came to be. Now, “I can’t think of a reason not to move forward. We want to find someone passionate about the story, the right producer and screenwriter,” Ingrid says.
As for the all-important question of music rights, “We own the publishing and the masters. We’re a one-stop shop this time.”
It’s been 40 years since Jim Croce’s spectacular rise to super stardom – with a string of hits including “Bad Bad Leroy Brown,” “Time in a Bottle,” and “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” — was cut short in a plane crash. He was only 30 years old.
“I tried to do the book before. I wanted to do it before,” notes Ingrid, who spent 12 years ensnarled in litigation over Jim’s estate. Her lawyer, Jimmy Rock, became her second husband, and collaborator on the biography she first wrote 25 years ago. Publishers then, she says,“wanted more sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. We felt there was enough sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll out there already…Jim’s indiscretions were so minor compared to some.”
Ingrid was 16 and Jim 19 when they met, and she wound up leaving her art studies at the Rhode Island School of Design to be with him, as they wrote songs and performed as a duo. “He needed to express the music that was going on inside him,” she says. “He was my entire adult life, my only love. It was a very intense period.” There were dark times, infidelity, loneliness as Jim dealt with the pressures of fame and of doing some 300 concerts a year. Some of his song titles “tell the story of where we were at the time,” she says.
A shattering experience occurred when Ingrid was raped while on a trip to Mexico. “It was very, very difficult, not only for me, but my husband,” notes Ingrid, who says it took decades for her to fully comprehend the impact that the rape and ensuing waves of anger and guilt had on their relationship. In more recent years, she has been involved with San Diego’s Rape Crisis Center at the Center for Community Relations –and that work helped her understanding of her own trauma.
Ingrid is well known in San Diego as the proprietress of Croce’s restaurant and jazz club in the city’s famed Gaslamp Quarter, as the author of tomes including her “Thyme in a Bottle” cook book – and as the tireless keeper of Jim’s legacy, along with their son A.J.
It was a friend of A.J.’s, journalist and musician David Kelment, who helped her and Jimmy revamp the well-received, intensely personal story in “I Got a Name.”
Of course, the question of who can play Jim and Ingrid now comes to mind. She notes, “It takes at least a couple of years to put a film together, so to talk about anyone now would be taking the chance that they’d get too old for the parts. We’d like to get actors who are as young as we were when this was all happening.”