Jim Seals of soft rock icons Seals and Crofts dead at 80

Jim Seals headshot
(Image credit: Archive PL / Alamy Stock Photo)

Jim Seals, one half of soft rock duo Seals and Crofts, has died at the age of 80. The news was confirmed by his cousin Brady Seals, a former member of Nashville band Little Texas.

"I just learned that James “Jimmy” Seals has passed," he wrote. "My heart just breaks for his wife Ruby and their children. Please keep them in your prayers. What an incredible legacy he leaves behind."

James Eugene Seals was born in 1942 in Iraan, Texas. He took up the fiddle as a child, then sax as a teenager, and joined local rock'n'roll band the Crew Cats in 1955, where he played alongside Darrell “Dash” Crofts. Three years later both men joined the Champs - who'd just had an enormous hit with the classic Tequila – and stayed with the band until 1963. After stints with Glen Campbell (another former member of The Champs) and The Dawnbreakers, they formed the duo that would make their name: Seals and Crofts.

The pair's first two albums with TA Records failed to trouble the charts, but a new deal with Warners got things moving in the right direction, and album number four – 1972's Summer Breeze – turned them into stars. This was largely down to the success of the title track, the deliciously airy Summer Breeze, a song later turned into a UK hit by The Isley Brothers. Much covered, a less likely version arrived in 1993, when Type O Negative recorded a take that was used in used in the 1997 movie I Know What You Did Last Summer.

"Summer Breeze was very simple song about a man coming home from work and hearing the dog barking and things like that, and to a lot of people the song's about looking for security," Seals told Melody Maker in 1975. "Our meaning goes further than that, for a prison can be the prison of self and a person can become insecure and paranoid if he doesn't have a direction in his personal life."

Other hits followed – including Hummingbird, Diamond Girl, We May Never Pass This Way (Again), I'll Play for You and Get Closer, and in 1974 the pair performed at the California Jam alongside Eagles, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple.

In 1980 the pair were dropped by Warners and decided to go on hiatus, but there were official reunions in 1991 and 2004, alongside regular shows for adherents of the Baháʼí Faith. Both Seals and Crofts had been followers since the late 1960s, and in 1974 were driven to release an anti-abortion song, Unborn Child, in the wake of Roe v. Wade and over the objections of their label. It was a controversial move.

"It was our ignorance that we didn’t know that kind of thing was seething and boiling as a social issue." Seals told the LA Times. "On one hand we had people sending us thousands of roses, but on the other people were literally throwing rocks at us. If we’d known it was going to cause such disunity, we might have thought twice about doing it. At the time it overshadowed all the other things we were trying to say in our music."

Seals & Crofts released their final album, Traces, in 2004. 

No cause of death has been announced.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.