Local museum presenting Monday, Sept. 18 salute to musical icon Jim Croce

It’s been almost 50 years since a late-night plane crash at the Natchitoches airport halted the career of an emerging superstar singer-songwriter.

The events of Sept. 20, 1973, and the legacy of the late Jim Croce will be featured in a program Monday evening, Sept. 18, in historic downtown Natchitoches at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum.

“Photographs and Memories: A Salute to Jim Croce” will celebrate the life and music of the world-renowned musician and songwriter, and provide insight into his final day.

The event is open to the public. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for students, senior citizens and military personnel. It is presented by the local museum support group FLASH (Friends of Louisiana Sports and History), and current FLASH members will be admitted free. Memberships, beginning at $40, can be purchased at the event.

Appetizers and refreshments will be available beginning at 5:30 through the evening. The program will begin at 6:15 with the screening of an 18-minute short film, “The Day the Music Died,” produced last year by NSU New Media students under the direction of Dr. Melody Gilbert. The film features interviews and reflections from university students and others who were there on the fateful day and night, events which ended with the deaths of Croce and five others in the plane crash not long after his 42-minute performance at NSU’s Prather Coliseum.

Local musician Billy O’Con will perform a few of Croce’s greatest hits. O’Con played Croce in a locally-produced docudrama which was released 25 years ago.

Croce’s music remains popular today. He wrote and performed hits like “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” “Time in a Bottle,” “Operator,” “I Got A Name,” “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim,” “I’ll Have to Say I Love You (In A Song),” and “Photogaphs and Memories.” Two singles hit No. 1 – “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and “Time in a Bottle.”

A half-hour panel discussion, with audience participation encouraged, will wrap up the evening. People who attended the concert or had interaction with Croce and his band are encouraged to attend and share their stories.

The event will be videotaped with copies given to Croce’s wife, Ingrid, and their son, musician A.J. Croce.

It’s hoped that media coverage of the Sept. 18 “Photographs and Memories” program could shine a positive light on Natchitoches on the national stage when the anniversary of the tragedy will doubtlessly gain attention around the country, and even beyond.

For more information, visit the FLASH Facebook page or call the local state museum at 318-357-2492.