Tommy West, co-producer of Jim Croce albums, dead at 78

Tommy West, a music producer, singer and songwriter who played a role in the short-lived career of musician Jim Croce, died of complications associated with Parkinson's disease, his family said. He was 78.

West died Sunday in hospice care.

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Born Thomas Picardo Jr. in Jersey City, New Jersey, he developed his musical talents after his family moved to Neptune, according to his friend Mike Ragogna.

"His musical career began in 1958 as co-founder of the doo-wop group, The Criterions, with childhood friend and future Manhattan Transfer founder, Tim Hause," Ragogna said.

West had met Croce while both were students at Villanova University in 1961.

West and Terry Cashman coproduced three albums for Croce in the early 1970s, which went on to platinum status. "You Don’t Mess Around With Jim," "Life and Times" and "I Got A Name" included hit singles "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and "Time in a Bottle."

Croce was killed in a plane crash in Louisiana at age 30 in 1973.

West and Cashman also wrote songs for "The Partridge Family" television musical sitcom, featuring David Cassidy and his stepmother Shirley Jones.

West partnered with Mary Tyler Moore’s MTM Records in Nashville in the 1980s to produce for country artists including Holly Dunn and Judy Rodman.

In his later career, West operated his Somewhere in New Jersey studio from inside a barn in the northern part of the state.

He is survived by his wife, a daughter and two stepsons.

His funeral will be private, his family said.

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