Tommy West, a music producer, songwriter and recording artist, best known for his work alongside Jim Croce, has died at the age of 78.
In confirming his passing, West’s family noted that the music veteran’s death was the result of complications associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Born in Jersey City, N.J., West began his musical career in 1958 as co-founder of the Criterions, a doo-wop group which also featured future Manhattan Transfer founder, Tim Hauser.
Three years later, while attending Villanova University, West recruited Croce for his latest group, a folk band called the Villanova Spires. It would be the first of several notable collaborations for the two musicians.
Following a stint in the National Guard, West became a session singer, contributing to tracks recorded by Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Sammy Davis, Jr. and more. A job at Capitol Records would further implant him in the music industry, as West and frequent collaborator Terry Cashman would pen songs for the popular TV show The Partridge Family.
West and Cashman would co-produce three albums in the early ‘70s for Croce: You Don’t Mess Around With Jim (1972), Life and Times (1973) and I Got a Name (1973), the latter of which was released after Croce tragically died in a plane crash. All three LPs achieved gold status, while also spawning such hits as “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” “Time in a Bottle,” “Operator (That’s Not the Way it Feels),” “I Got a Name,” and “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song.”
West would go on to work with a wide swathe of artists, including Dion, country artist Ed Bruce and Canadian singer Anne Murray.
More recently, the Buchanan Brothers – a late ‘60s trio featuring West, Cashman and friend Gene Pistilli – had their 1969 tune “Son of a Lovin’ Man” featured in Quentin Tarantino’s film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.