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Thursday, October 6, 2022

Summer Breeze singer Jim Seals dies aged 80

Jim Seals scored a run of gold albums with his musical partner Dash Crofts in the 1970s

Jim Seals of the US soft rock duo Seals and Crofts, has died at the age of 80, his family have confirmed.

The singer was behind laid-back 1970s classics like Diamond Girl and Summer Breeze – later covered and popularised in the UK by the Isley Brothers.

“This is a hard one on so many levels as this is a musical era passing for me,” said Seals’ friend and fellow musician John Ford Coley on Facebook.

Seals died at home in Nashville on Monday, said his wife Ruby Jean Seals.

The cause was an unspecified “chronic ongoing illness”, she added.

They were invited to join The Champs in 1958, shortly after they scored a number one hit with the surf-rock classic Tequila.

After seven years on the road, they decided to form their own band, with Seals playing guitar, saxophone, and fiddle, and Crofts on drums, mandolin, keyboards, and guitar.

Between 1972 and 1976, they had a run of five gold albums, culminating in an double-platinum greatest hits collection that gathered songs like Humming Bird, Castles In The Sand and We May Never Pass This Way (Again).

It also included their most enduring song, Summer Breeze – an ode to easy California living with an innocent melody played on a toy piano, and the unforgettable hook: “Summer breeze makes me feel fine / Blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind.

The 1972 track sold more than a million copies in the US, reaching number six on the Billboard Top 100.

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Both musicians were adherents of the Baha’i faith which, Crofts said in 1971, “teaches the unity of people of all races, creeds, religions, politics, and truths”.

They sought to reflect those beliefs in their music – which was calmer and more meditative than the noisy excesses of their rock peers. They would often end concerts by sitting on the stage and sharing the teachings of Baha’i with curious fans.

But those same beliefs led to controversy with 1974’s Unborn Child, an anti-abortion song released not long after the US Supreme Court’s Roe vs Wade decision on abortion rights.

The song urged women who were considering an abortion to “stop, turn around, go back, think it over”, based on the Baha’i belief that life begins at the moment of conception. It was banned by several radio stations, while embraced by others, but essentially stalled their career.

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 issue,’ that life is precious and that we don’t know enough about these things yet to make a judgment.

“It was our ignorance that we didn’t know that kind of thing was seething and boiling as a social issue.”

Seals and CrofrsIMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
Image caption,

The group’s melodic brand of folk-rock was a huge hit on FM Radio

After several less successful albums, they were dropped by their record label in 1980 and Seals moved to Costa Rica, where he opened a coffee farm.

The band reunited briefly in 1991, and again in 2004, when the released an album of new material, Traces. Seals also toured with his brother Dan – of the duo England Dan and John Ford Coley – as Seals and Seals.

He later moved to Nashville, before a stroke forced him to stop playing in 2017.

Paying tribute, Coley said: “He was a bona fide, dyed-in-the-wool musical genius and a very deep and contemplative man”.

Seals’ cousin, Brady Seals of the country band Little Texas, added: “My heart just breaks for his wife Ruby and their children. Please keep them in your prayers. What an incredible legacy he leaves behind.”

The musician is survived by his wife, Ruby, and by their children Joshua, Juliette and Sutherland. A sister, Renee Staley, and a half brother, Eddie Ray Seals, also survive him. His brother Dan died in 2009

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