Jim Croce/Maury Muehleisen - duo or solo/accompanist?

sondich

Member
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714
When I was younger and first saw clips of Jim Croce performing, I'd occasionally wonder who the guy in the John Lennon glasses performing behind him was. Years later I know a lot more about both of their short lives but am still puzzled by how differently their musical relationship is portrayed, depending on who is telling the story.

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- When they were first put together, neither was famous. Jim was older but had no major success. Maury was a young gifted musician fresh out of school. The original idea was for Jim to back up Maury. They switched roles at some point and broke through that way.

- Both have tribute websites, presumably maintained by Ingrid (Jim's then wife) and Mary (Maury's sister).

- Jim's site doesn't mention Maury much, if at all. Lots of stories about Jim and other musicians.

- Maury's site paints Maury as the collaborator/musical savant who put Jim on the map. There's also a "memories" section where you'd expect to see something from Ingrid but you do not.

Ingrid & Jim originally performed as a duo before management convinced Jim to go solo. Was/is there a lingering resentment that Jim broke through with Maury instead of Ingrid?

Wikipedia makes no mention of any royalty issue but my guess is that there probably was one at some point.

Can anyone fill me in?
 

BigSB

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1,591
I don't know about any acrimony or controversial backstory, but bear in mind that millions of people don't know who the heck Maury Muehleisen was. They know "Operator" and they know "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and "Time In A Bottle". They have no idea who played with Croce. They listen to the hits on the radio and are happy to be ignorant.

The FACT, however, is that Croce's label was run by a bunch of cheap tightwads - they would have had Croce touring alone if they could have. It was a wonderfully serendipitous occasion that brought Croce and Muehleisen together.

M.M. was the sparkle-glitter on already beautiful ballads, and he was the hot sauce in the gumbo that was Philly-bred Croce's forays into ragtime and blues sounds. M.M. was a fantastic guitarist and an incredibly sensitive accompanist. It takes huge talent to be able to walk the tightrope between vanilla background music that anyone could play and flashy overplaying. Muehleisen came up with some of the licks and phrases that make Croce songs so memorable - when anyone plays these songs solo, they almost have to try and figure out how to add some of those signature figures.

It would be tragic to find out that there was some kind of feud going on. My guess is just that Ingrid Croce and M.M.'s sister just never got the chance to know one another, and so the histories are different because the connection just isn't there. Ingrid Croce really has Jim's legacy as a writer/performer to uphold, not necessarily Muehleisen's.
 

taez555

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9,054
M.M. was the sparkle-glitter on already beautiful ballads, and he was the hot sauce in the gumbo that was Philly-bred Croce's forays into ragtime and blues sounds. M.M. was a fantastic guitarist and an incredibly sensitive accompanist. It takes huge talent to be able to walk the tightrope between vanilla background music that anyone could play and flashy overplaying. Muehleisen came up with some of the licks and phrases that make Croce songs so memorable - when anyone plays these songs solo, they almost have to try and figure out how to add some of those signature figures.

Very eloquently stated.:aok :rockin
 
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423
Maury influenced me more than any other guitarist. As I kid I would see Croce on TV with Maury and I knew that so much of Croce's success was due to Maury's backup playing. This is not to detract from Jim's songs, but Maury had the tone and sensitivity that set their records apart from other folk acts of that era.
 

Tim Bowen

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3,481
Is this Maury?



It is. Nice to see the interest here. I was doing Operator regularly in bars fairly recently, trying to sing and play the guy's parts. He really did set the bar for the acoustic duo perfect parts player.

 

DustyRhodesJr

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12,128
Maury was actually much more successful as a solo artist than was Jim at the time
they hooked up.

Maury believed in the songs so much he was content to be the accompaniment.

There was actually a great special about Maury a few years ago that I caught on cable
TV (maybe VH1 Classic). Really good special
 

andybaylor

Member
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3,650
Maury influenced me more than any other guitarist. As I kid I would see Croce on TV with Maury and I knew that so much of Croce's success was due to Maury's backup playing. This is not to detract from Jim's songs, but Maury had the tone and sensitivity that set their records apart from other folk acts of that era.

Exactly. I wanted to be him.
 

sondich

Member
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714
I don't know about any acrimony or controversial backstory, but bear in mind that millions of people don't know who the heck Maury Muehleisen was. They know "Operator" and they know "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and "Time In A Bottle". They have no idea who played with Croce

That's what bothers me about Maury's story. He helped write and record a bunch of tunes that people love to this day. Dying at 24 before he could really enjoy the success is bad enough.

My rant is directed at no one in particular, it just bums me out.
 

BigSB

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1,591
Is this Maury?



Yes, indeed. The one and only. Those two were dynamite together.

I've said in other threads and will say again, the duo I used to gig professionally with almost wouldn't have existed if it wasn't for Croce and Muehleisen. My strength as a songwriter lies primarily in ballad-type numbers, and it takes a sensitive and attentive player to accompany those songs without them turning into schlock or sounding too trite and vanilla. My playing partner and I were profoundly influenced by the interplay of those two.
 

HoboMan

Gold Supporting Member
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18,936
Is this Maury?



Yes, indeed. The one and only. Those two were dynamite together.

I've said in other threads and will say again, the duo I used to gig professionally with almost wouldn't have existed if it wasn't for Croce and Muehleisen. My strength as a songwriter lies primarily in ballad-type numbers, and it takes a sensitive and attentive player to accompany those songs without them turning into schlock or sounding too trite and vanilla. My playing partner and I were profoundly influenced by the interplay of those two.

Amazing player. I never knew who the other guitar player was but always loved his playing. Elevated Jim's songs to whole new level.
 

HoboMan

Gold Supporting Member
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18,936
Hi, Maury Muehleisen fans! Thanks for all your kind words about my brother Maury. I've only just found this site and joined - and am now realizing that most of these posts are years old. If I see some activity, I'll post.

Welcome to The Gear Page. Apparently Maury has many fans who appreciate his great guitar playing.
 

Jon Silberman

10Q Jerry & Dickey
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I used to have people come up to me to ask me if I was Jim Croce (no ****, though sadly it was because of looks, not talent :eek: ).
 

Sean French

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14,463
Huge Croce fan. I first heard him and Maury on TV as a kid. As I got older and playing guitar myself is when I realized the brilliance of Maury's playing. He was not just an accompanist. Maury's melodies, counterpoint and phrasing was deep into and part of the songs.
Another part of Maury' contributions that seem to get overlooked are his vocals. He had a beautiful and soft voice that blended wonderfully with Jim's. It elevated the songs.
In my book Jim and Maury were a great duo.
So sad they were taken so early.
 

BigSB

Member
Messages
1,591
Maury... his vocals.

Anyone who can harmonize with such a distinctive voice as Jim's and sound like the recordings is a real talent.

Listen to that live remastered video of "Operator" - M.M.'s harmonies are perfect.
 

tonegangster

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,257
Hi, Maury Muehleisen fans! Thanks for all your kind words about my brother Maury. I've only just found this site and joined - and am now realizing that most of these posts are years old. If I see some activity, I'll post.
Thanks for posting Mary! cant tell you how much your brother and Jim meant to me as a young boy! My mother and father introduced me to them and it has lasted a lifetime!!!!! I still get goose bumps when their songs come on the radio!!!
 

rwmct

Member
Messages
2,844
Great thread. I never knew his name, but I remember seeing them on tv back in the day. He added so much to those songs.
 




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