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James Joseph Croce, better known as Jim Croce, was born in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 10, 1943, to Jim and Flora Croce, and grew up in a family of Italian background. Croce took a strong interest in music at a young age. At five, he learned to play his first song on the accordion, "Lady of Spain." He says, "I was the original underachiever. I'd shake that thing and smile, but I was sort of a late bloomer." Croce attended Upper Darby High School in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. After his graduation in 1960, Croce went to Malvern Preparatory School for one year before deciding to enroll at Villanova University in 1961. During his time as a student at the university, Croce became a member of the Villanova Singers and Villanova Spires, and was a student disc jockey at WKVU. Croce did not take music seriously other than as a hobby until his time at Villanova, where he formed various bands, performing at fraternity parties, coffee houses, and at universities around Philadelphia, playing "anything that the people wanted to hear: blues, rock, a cappella, railroad music... anything." One of those bands was chosen for a foreign exchange tour of Africa and the Middle East. "We just ate what the people ate, lived in the woods, and played our songs. Of course they didn't speak English over there... but if you mean what you're singing, people understand." Croce met his future wife Ingrid Jacobson at this time, during a hootenanny at Philadelphia Convention Hall, where he was judging a contest. When they married, he converted to Judaism
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