I may have been the last person to interview Jim Croce.
Croce -- "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," "Time in a Bottle," "Operator" and "You Don't Mess Around with Jim" -- was on a concert tour in September, 1973 which made a stop at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington.
While primarily known for its rides, Six Flags also sported a full-fledged outdoor concert pavilion called the Music Mill Theater. Croce would be appearing there along with his opening act, comedian George Stevens.
At the time Croce was riding a wave of million-selling records and his feel-good, infectious melodies could be heard everywhere. Backstage and in person, Croce was just as engaging as his songs -- warm, open and on top of the world.
Hardly more than a week later came the shocking news: Croce, Stevens and four others had died instantly when their private plane hit a tree taking off from Nachitoches, La. en route to Sherman, Tx. and a show at Austin College.
Croce was 30 years old.
That December, his "I Got a Name" album was released. Along with the title track, two more songs from it topped the charts: "Working at the Car Wash Blues" and "I Have to Say I Love You in a Song."
Croce's music endures and is enjoyed by new generations. A fine and fitting legacy for a talented musician whose life ended much too soon.
Music was always a big deal to me. Whether records, reel-to-reel tape or cassettes, I liked to surround myself with music. So it wasn't a big stretch that when i joined the staff of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1970, I volunteered in my off time to write about music and musicians.