Jim Seals of legendary 1970s singing duo Seals & Crofts died Monday. He was 80.
No cause of death was released. The death of Seals, who formed the musical couple with Darrel “Dash” Crofts in 1969, was confirmed online by several friends and relatives, including his musician cousin Brady Seals.
“I just found out that James ‘Jimmy’ Seals has passed away. My heart just breaks for his wife Ruby and their children,” the country music singer wrote on Instagram. “Please keep her in your prayers. What an incredible legacy he is leaving.”
Seals & Crofts ushered in the soft rock era with a slew of hits in the ’70s, including “Summer Breeze,” “Diamond Girl,” and “Get Closer,” starring Carolyn Willis. While none of their tunes reached #1, they did make the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “We May Never Pass This Way (Again)”, “I’ll Play for You”, “Goodbye Old Buddies” and “You’re the Love” reached the top 10 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
Other singers also commented on Seals’ death.
“I have spent a large part of my musical life with this man. We toured together, he and Dash invited us to sing on Seals and Crofts records and we played with him for years,” fellow musician John Ford Coley wrote in a lengthy Facebook post. Coley — who was half of the singing group England Dan & John Ford Coley along with Jim Seals’ brother Dan, who died in 2009 — noted that the two “didn’t always agree,” but called Coley Seals an “enigma.”
“I thought he was a real woolen musical genius and a very deep and thoughtful man,” Coley continued. “We didn’t always agree and it wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always fun, but it was definitely always entertaining. Dan adored his older brother and because Jimmy opened the doors for us, we came to Los Angeles to shoot and meet the right people.”
“That’s a tough question on so many levels as this is a musical era that is passing for me. And it’s never going to be like his song said,” he wrote, a nod to the 1973 Seals & Crofts hit.
Despite splitting up in 1980, Seals & Crofts reunited in the early ’90s and 2000s, but only produced one album after their first claim to fame in the ’70s, “Traces,” in 2004.
Before their success as a duo, both Seals and Crofts were part of the group The Champs, best known for their hit song “Tequila,” in which Seals played the saxophone.
According to Variety, Seals started playing the saxophone at age 13 after years of playing the violin his oilman father bought him as a child. In 1952, Seals dominated the violin section of a competition while his own father won in guitar. Three years later, Seals played in a local band called the Crew Cats until he met Crofts and was offered a place with the Champs in 1958 and stayed with the group until 1965.
From there, the duo relocated to Los Angeles and joined another group – the Dawnbreakers – where they discovered the Bahai faith through the band’s manager, Marcia Day. In 1967 the couple converted.
Between 1969 and 1971, Seals & Crofts released three albums as a couple, with Seals playing guitar and Crofts playing mandolin. While those works slipped under the radar, 1972’s “Summer Breeze” finally caught the attention of mainstream listeners.
After playing for oceans of fans who hooted and roared at their performance, their anti-abortion tune “Unborn Child” juggled controversy in the wake of the landmark 1974 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Calf.
But not long after, the duo broke up in 1980, when disco dominated. While Seals moved to Costa Rica and reportedly started a coffee farm and raised three children, Crofts took his family to Mexico and then to Australia. Seals moved back to the United States and settled in Nashville. He suffered a stroke in 2017 despite essentially retiring from his music career before that.