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Jim Seals, of Seals and Crofts duo that ruled ’70s soft-rock, dies at 80

Jim Seals, who as part of the duo Seals and Crofts crafted memorably wistful 1970s hits like ‘Summer Breeze’ and ‘Diamond Girl’, has died at the age 80.

No cause of death was immediately given, but several friends and relatives confirmed the death.

“I just learned that James ‘Jimmy’ Seals has passed,” announced his cousin, Brady Seals, a former member of the country band Little Texas. “My heart just breaks for his wife Ruby and their children. Please keep them in your prayers. What an incredible legacy he leaves behind.”

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Jim Seals, seen here in 1973, died on Monday aged 80. (Getty)

Wrote John Ford Coley, “This is a hard one on so many levels as this is a musical era passing for me. And it will never pass this way again, as his song said,” he added, referring to the Seals and Croft hit ‘We May Never Pass This Way (Again)’.

Coley was a member of another hit duo of the era, England Dan and John Ford Coley, with Jim Seals’ younger brother, the late Dan Seals.

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“You and Dan finally get reunited again,” Coley wrote. “Tell him and your sweet momma hi for me.”

With Jim Seals as the primary lead vocalist of the harmonising duo, Seals and Crofts came to be the very emblem of “soft rock” with a run of hits that lasted for only about six years.

Soft-rock duo Seals and Crofts in 1981 at Studio 6A, NBC Studios, 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City.
Soft-rock duo Seals and Crofts in 1981 at Studio 6A, NBC Studios, 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City. (Getty)

Although none of the pair’s hits ever reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 in the US, their biggest songs were for a time as ubiquitous as any that did top the chart. ‘Summer Breeze’ in 1972 and ‘Diamond Girl’ in 1973 both reached No. 6, as did a more upbeat song in 1976, ‘Get Closer’, sung with Carolyn Willis.

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Besides those three songs that reached the top 10 on the Hot 100, four more made it to the adult contemporary chart’s top 10: ‘We May Never Pass This Way (Again)’ in ’73, ‘I’ll Play for You’ in ’75, ‘Goodbye Old Buddies’ in ’77 and ‘You’re the Love’ in ’78.

Critic Robert Christgau called the duo “folk-schlock,” but Seals and Crofts had the last laugh – or would have, if crowing with vindication was part of the Baha’i way. Both members of the duo were deeply embedded in that peace-loving faith from the late ’60s forward.

Seals and Crofts (left to right: Dash Crofts and Jim Seals) attend Seals & Crofts Special One-Night Only Reunion Concert in 1989 in LA.
Seals and Crofts (left to right: Dash Crofts and Jim Seals) attend their Special One-Night Only Reunion Concert in 1989 in LA. (Getty)

The duo broke up in 1980, followed by a couple of very fleeting reunions in the early ’90s and early 2000s, which generated only one album after their original run, the little-noticed Traces in 2004.

They never reembarked together on the kind of nostalgia-stoking package tours that would have seemed natural for an act with so many well-remembered hits. But neither member showed a particularly heavy interest in chasing the limelight after the 1970s.

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