Jim Seals Dead: Seals and Crofts ‘Summer Breeze’ The singer was 80 years old

Jim Seals, who as part of the Seals and Crofts duo created memorable 1970s hits like “Summer Breeze” and “Diamond Girl”, died Monday at age 80. No cause of death was immediately reported.

Several friends and relatives confirmed the death. “I just learned that James ‘Jimmy’ Seals passed away,” his cousin Brady Seals, former member of country band Little Texas, announced Monday night. “My heart breaks for his wife Ruby and their children. Please keep them in your prayers. What an incredible legacy he leaves behind.”

Wrote John Ford Coley: “This is difficult on many levels, for this is a passing musical age for me. And it will never pass through here again, as its song said,” he added, referring to Seals and Croft’s hit “We May Never Pass This Way (Again)”. Coley was a member of another successful duo at the time, England Dan and John Ford Coley, with Jim Seals’ younger brother, the late Dan Seals.

“You and Dan are finally reunited,” Coley wrote. “Tell him and his sweet mama hi for me.”

With Jim Seals as the lead singer of the harmonizing duo, Seals and Crofts became the very emblem of “soft rock” with a string of hits that lasted only about six years. While none of the duo’s hits reached the top spot on the Hot 100, their biggest songs were for a time as ubiquitous as any that topped the charts. “Summer Breeze” in 1972 and “Diamond Girl” in 1973 reached number six, as did a more upbeat song in 1976, “Get Closer”, sung with Carolyn Willis.

In addition to these three songs that reached the top 10 of the Hot 100, four more reached the top 10 of the adult contemporary chart: “We May Never Pass This Way (Again)” in ’73, “I’ll Play for You” in ’75 , “Goodbye Old Buddies” in ’77 and “You’re the Love” in ’78.

Critic Robert Christgau called the duo “folk-schlock,” but Seals and Crofts had the last laugh – or would have, if singing in vindication was part of the Bahá’í style. Both members of the duo were deeply rooted in this peace-loving faith from the late 60’s onwards.

The duo broke up in 1980, followed by some very fleeting reunions in the early ’90s and early 2000s that spawned just one album after their original run, the little-noticed “Traces” in 2004. the sort of nostalgic tour packages that would have seemed natural for an act with so many well-remembered hits. But none of the members showed a particularly strong interest in chasing the spotlight after the 1970s.

John Ford Coley shared his thoughts in a Facebook post. “I spent much of my musical life with this man,” he wrote. “He was Dan’s older brother, (and) it was Jimmy who gave Dan and me our stage name. He taught me how to juggle, made me laugh, pissed me off, encouraged me, showed me incredible worlds and different understandings of life, especially on a philosophical level; he showed me how expensive golf was and how to never hit a golf ball, because then came the total annihilation of a perfectly good golf club, and the list goes on. We didn’t always agree, especially as musicians, but we always got along well and I thought he was a genuine, wool-dyed musical genius and a very deep, contemplative man. He was an enigma and I was always considerate of his opinion.

“I listened to him and learned from him,” Coley continued. “We didn’t always agree and it wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always fun, but it definitely was always fun for sure. Dan adored his big brother and it was because of Jimmy opening doors for us that we came to LA to record and meet the right people. … He belonged to a group that was unique. I’m really sad about it, but I have some of the best memories of all of us together.”

For several years in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Seals and Dash Crofts – who outlived his partner – were members of a group that bore little stylistic resemblance to their later act: the Champs, though they joined after the band recorded their signature hit, “Tequila”. Seals played sax in that group and Crofts was on drums.

James Eugene Seals was born in 1942 to an oil tanker, Wayland Seals, and his wife Cora. ““There were oil rigs as far as you could see,” Seals told an interviewer about raising him in Iran, Texas. “And the stench was so bad you couldn’t breathe.” Jim was paralyzed by a visiting violinist and his father ordered him an instrument from the Sears catalog when he was 5 or 6 years old. In a 1952 contest in West Texas, Jim won the violin division while his father triumphed in the guitar category. His younger brother Dan, who would later become a pop star, took up stand-up bass.

Jim started playing sax at age 13 and started playing with a local band, The Crew Cats, when rock ‘n’ roll broke out in 1955. The shy musician was joined by the more outgoing Darrell “Dash” Crofts, who was two years old. older and grew up the son of a Texas rancher, inviting his friend to join Crew Cats as well. In 1958 came the offer to join the Champs, who had recently had a #1 hit with “Tequila”. They stayed with that band until they left in 1965.

The duo moved to Los Angeles and joined a group called the Dawnbreakers, also playing for a while behind Glen Campbell, just before he became a big star. Their manager, Marcia Day, was a member of the Bahá’í faith, and the house they shared on Sunset Blvd. it was full of supporters as well as secular members of the local rock scene; in 1967, five years before they had their first hit, Seals and Crofts converted.

“She and her family were Bahá’ís, and they had these fireside gatherings at their home on Friday nights,” Seals recalled in a 1991 interview with the Los Angeles Times. “There were homeless people, doctors, university professors and everybody there. And from the things they talked about, I couldn’t even ask the question, let alone give the answer: the difference between soul, mind and spirit, life after death. We discussed things sometimes until 3 am.

“It was the only thing I heard that made sense to me, so I responded to that,” he continued. “That started to generate some ideas for writing songs that could help people understand, or help those who maybe couldn’t feel anything or were cynical or cold. Lyrically, I think music can convey things that are sometimes difficult for people to say to each other. But through a song, through someone else’s eyes, they can see it and it’s not so much a confrontation.”

Abandoning his old instruments for something more folk-rock, Seals took up guitar and Crofts learned the mandolin. Their first three duo albums, 1969-71, had a sweet sound but went largely unnoticed. They tried to cut “Summer Breeze” earlier, but didn’t come up with a version they liked until their third album in 1972, which they named after the track. He picked it up on the radio, region by region. Seals was quoted in Texas Monthly as having noticed the sudden change when they arrived for a show in Ohio: “There were kids waiting for us at the airport. That night we had a record crowd, maybe 40,000 people. And I remember people throwing their hats and coats in the air as far as you could see, against the moon. Most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.”

After several other major and minor hits, including “Diamond Girl,” the Texas Monthly wrote, the duo had their own private jet, but “went out and sat on the edge of the stage and held firesides about the Bahá’í faith with curious fans.” . In 1974 they played California, along with Deep Purple and the Eagles, in front of hundreds of thousands. When Jim pulled out his violin for a sing-along on ‘Fiddle in the Sky’, crowds of tanned hippies clapped their hands.”

The duo sparked controversy in 1974 by recording an anti-abortion song, “Unborn Child”, as a track on their album in 1974, following the Roe v. Wade. The belief that abortion was wrong came from their shared Bahá’í beliefs, and they released it over the objections of their record label, Warner Bros.

The divisive song “was really just asking a question: what about the child?” Seals told the LA Times years later. “We were trying to say, ‘This is an important question,’ that life is precious and that we still don’t know enough about these things to make a judgment. It was our ignorance that we didn’t know that this sort of thing was boiling and boiling as a social issue. On the one hand we had people sending us thousands of roses, but on the other hand people were literally throwing rocks at us. Had we known that this would cause such disunity, we might have thought twice about doing it. At the time, it overshadowed all the other things we were trying to say in our music.”

In 1977, the duo contributed to the soundtrack of a basketball-based film, “One on One,” starring Robbie Benson. They didn’t write the songs – Paul Williams and Charles Fox did – but they were featured on the soundtrack album as soundtrack artists.

When they broke up in 1980, their music brand was finding much less of a spot on the top 40 disco-fied stations. Seals moved to Costa Rica with his wife Ruby, where they reportedly ran a coffee farm while raising their three children, and Crofts and his family moved to Mexico and eventually Australia.

In 1991, when Seals and Crofts attempted a reunion, they talked about their breakup with the LA Times. “By 1980,” Seals told the paper, “we were still attracting 10,000 to 12,000 people to shows. But we could see, with this shift coming to where everyone wanted dance music, that those days were numbered. We just decided it was a good time, after a long run, to lie down and not fully commit to this sort of thing because we were like (fish) out of water. ”

Seals, who later moved to Nashville, was considered retired from his music career even before he suffered a stroke in 2017 that interrupted his performance.

But he occasionally returned to music in later years, such as when he toured with his brother Dan (aka England Dan) as Seals and Seals.

The Seals name has a legacy in music that extends beyond that of Jim, as multiple generations in the family tree began performing or writing. In addition to Dan’s tenure with England Dan and John Ford Coley and cousin Brady Seals’ success with Little Texas, another cousin, Troy Seals, is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame responsible for hits like “Seven Spanish Angels,” and in the 1950s his uncle Charles “Chuck” Seals co-wrote the Ray Price classic “Crazy Arms”.

Seals is survived by Ruby and her children Joshua, Juliette and Sutherland.

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