Tommy West, a music producer, singer and songwriter who played a role in the short-lived career of musician Jim Croce, has died. He was 78.
West died Sunday in hospice care in Morristown, New Jersey, of complications associated with Parkinson’s disease, his family said.
West met Croce while both were students at Villanova University in 1961, and he and Terry Cashman co-produced three albums for the artist in the early 1970s. You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, Life and Timesand I Got a Name — all of which went platinum in 1972 and ’73 — included the hit singles “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and “Time in a Bottle.”
Croce was killed in a plane crash in Louisiana at age 30 in 1973.
West and Cashman also wrote songs for ABC’s The Partridge Family, featuring David Cassidy and stepmother Shirley Jones.
He also partnered with Mary Tyler Moore’s MTM Records in Nashville in the 1980s to produce for country artists including Holly Dunn and Judy Rodman, and he produced a string of Anne Murray comeback albums between 1993-2004.
Thomas Picardo Jr. was born on Aug. 17, 1942, in Jersey City, New Jersey. His musical career began in 1958 as co-founder of the doo-wop group The Criterions with childhood friend and future Manhattan Transfer performer Tim Hause.
West recorded the 1967 ABC album Bound to Happen with Cashman and songwriter Gene Pistilli, and the trio contributed songs to the 1968 film For Love of Ivy, starring Sidney Pointier.
He also was a session singer who recorded background vocals for such artists as Frank Sinatra, Mitch Ryder, Sammy Davis Jr., Perry Como and Connie Francis. And he could be heard on TV and radio commercials, including Coca-Cola’s “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.”
Later, West operated his Somewhere in New Jersey studio from inside a barn in the northern part of the state.
Survivors include his wife, Ann, daughter Cheyenne and grandchildren, Lila, Amelia and Haley Robinson. Donations in his memory can be made to contributions be made to Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.