Seals & Crofts
Seals & Crofts
Avocal duo rising out of country and rock backgrounds, Jim Seals and Dash Crofts won a wide audience with music difficult to classify. Blends of jazz, rock, folk, and hints of classical harmonies all have surfaced in melodic combinations over the years since they left the instrumental rock group the Champs.
Fascinated by fiddle playing at a young age, Seals began his musical career with bow in hand, winning the Texas state fiddle championship at the age of nine. He had also begun toying with his father’s guitar and eventually learned the mandolin, which resulted in the unique flavor common to many of the duo’s later arrangements. Crofts, too, began playing early, picking out tunes on the piano as a small boy and later receiving classical training. After a brief period of waning interest, he was sparked again when he began hearing late-night rhythm and blues broadcasts on the radio. This time he took up drums and soon met Seals in junior high school in the mid-1950s. With rock and roll the music of the day, they merged their talents in a school rock band.
Duo comprised of Jim Seals (full name, James Seals; born October 17, 1941, in Sidney, Tex. ; began career as saxophonist; vocalist and songwriter; also plays guitar, mandolin, and violin) and Dash Crofts (given name, Darrell; born August 14, 1940, in Cisco, Tex.; began career as drummer; vocalist and songwriter; also plays guitar, mandolin, and piano); first performed together in Texas during mid-1950s in group Dean Beard and the Crew Cats; performed together as members of group the Champs, 1958-65; pursued solo careers briefly before performing together in groups the Mushrooms and the Dawnbreakers during the late 1960s; formed duo Seals & Crofts, 1970.
Addresses: Record company —Warner Bros., 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91510.
In 1958 Crofts left Texas for California, becoming the drummer of the Champs, who produced the top-ten hit “Tequila.” Seals later joined the band and seven years of worldwide travel followed until the group broke up in 1965. After an unsuccessful solo career, Seals rejoined Crofts first in a four-man bean, the Mushrooms, then in the moderately successful seven-member group the Dawnbreakers. The next breakup partly owed to the conversion of most of the band’s members to the Baha’i religion. Early in the 1970s, after much prayer and consideration, Seals and Crofts emerged again as a duo, this time becoming well known on the West Coast club circuit, their new soft-rock sound meeting with critical acclaim.
While their first two albums, Seals & Crofts and Down Home, were marginal sellers, their 1971 album, Year of Sunday War, was to make the charts by the end of the year. In 1972, Summer Breeze did better, appearing in the top ten and going gold early in 1973, the title track becoming a Seals & Crofts standard. Later that year, while the duo played to capacity audiences in both large and small venues across the country, their album Diamond Girl went into the top five in the United States, earning them another gold record and the admiration of soft-rock and folk music fans alike.
Subsequent albums followed the melodic trend, the duo experimenting with jazzy contemporary sounds (“Castles in the Sand”) and rich harmonies reminiscent of the folk ballads of the 1960s (“I’ll Play For You” and “Ruby Jean and Billie Lee”), many closely akin to the work of Jim Seals’s brother, Dan Seals, of England Dan and John Ford Coley fame. Other songs combined their unique vocal flavor with allusions to Baha’i scripture as in the upbeat “Hummingbird” and the delicate, moody “East of Ginger Trees.”
As exponents of Baha’i, a world religion having its origin in Muslim beliefs and emphasizing such concepts as “the oneness of the human race, the unity of religion” and the “independent search for truth,” Seals and Crofts invite their fans to join in discussing the merits of their religion after concerts. Of the total influence of his faith over his life, Seals comments “Being a Baha’i is like being in love with a girl. You think about it all the time, and the message, sometimes inadvertently, comes out in your music.”
Seals and Crofts, Talent Associates, 1970.
Down Home, Bell, 1970.
Year of Sunday War, Warner Bros., 1971.
Summer Breeze, Warner Bros., 1972.
Diamond Girl, Warner Bros., 1973.
Unborn Child, Warner Bros., 1974.
I’ll Play For You, Warner Bros., 1975.
Greatest Hits, Warner Bros., 1975.
Get Closer, Warner Bros., 1976.
Sudan Village, Warner Bros., 1976.
One by One, Warner Bros., 1977.
Takin’ It Easy, Warner Bros., 1978.
Longest Road, Warner Bros., 1980.
Anderson, Christopher P., The Book of People, Putnam, 1981.
Nite, Norm N., Rock On, Volume 2, Harper, 1978.
Stambler, Irwin, Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock and Soul, St. Martin’s, 1974.
Encyclopedia of American Religions, Gale Research Company, 1987.
—Meg Mac Donald