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Jan 14

Maury Muehleisen

Maury MuehleisenOn this day in 1949, the great musician Maury Muehleisen was born. He is best known as Jim Croce’s lead guitarist. In fact, Croce always toured as a duo with Muehleisen. Before that, Croce was playing guitar for Muehleisen, but after the poor sales of his first album, Gingerbreadd, that changed. Most important, Muehleisen was a huge influence on Croce’s writing. Until he started working with Muehleisen, Croce wrote pretty standard, three chord, folk songs. Muehleisen taught him a more sophisticated approach to composition — with leading tones and jazz chords. The results are striking. Just check out the album, The Faces I’ve Been. Compare the writing before and after Muehleisen showed up on the scene.

Here are a couple of Muehleisen songs. The first is “I Remember Mary,” which was the first song of his I had ever heard him sing. (I had, of course, heard Jim Croce’s performance of Muehleisen’s song “Salon and Saloon” — still one of my favorites.) It’s quite good:

And here is another off Gingerbreadd, “Free To Love You”:

Muehleisen, of course, died with Jim Croce in that plane crash at the age of 24. It’s very sad. He certainly would have gone on to do great work.

Happy birthday Maury Muehleisen!

2 comments

1 ping

  1. Mary Muehleisen

    Frank Moraes,
    Thank you very much for your kind words about Maury on what would have been his 66th birthday. I truly appreciate you shining a light on him!
    Mary Muehleisen

    1. Frank Moraes

      You are most welcome! Roughly ten years ago, I bought his two CDs from you. I had been looking for Gingerbreadd for decades at that point. The tragedy of that plane crash only grows over time. I know Croce had at least one great album left in him. And your brother — well, it is so sad to even speculate. I do think it is nice that among musicians, he was then and is still today held in the highest regard. I think he would have done amazing things.

      Also: thank you for all you’ve done to get his music out into the world! I really appreciate that.

  1. Morning Music: Salon and Saloon | Frankly Curious

    […] songs by other writers. The best of them was "Salon and Saloon" by his lead guitarist and friend Maury Muehleisen. It's totally unlike any other song that Croce ever performed. Even though he was much younger, […]

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