J.C. Crowley

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J.C. Crowley
Birth name John Charles Crowley
Born (1947-11-13) November 13, 1947 (age 67)[1]
Origin Houston, Texas
Genres Rock, Country, R&B, Jazz
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Bass
Years active 1977-201X
Labels RCA, RSO Records
Associated acts Player

J.C. Crowley (born November 13, 1947) is an American musician. He wrote and performed pop-rock hits (both his albums with the band Player went gold), had the chart-topping country tune “Paint the Town and Hang the Moon Tonight” and co-write screenplays for Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Crowley has composed for motion pictures and written songs for albums by artists such as Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash and Smokey Robinson.

Early life[edit]

John Charles Crowley was born in Houston, Texas. As a youth he rode his horse to a small-town Texas drive-in where he was enthralled by West Side Story, beginning a love affair with music and movies.

Growing up on the Texas Gulf Coast, Crowley spent much of his time outdoors and quickly discovered that songwriting was the best way to explore his relationship with nature. Working a series of rugged jobs would also provide a deep wellspring for his future musical endeavors. The young Crowley’s occupations ran the gamut from riding the range and fighting forest fires to piloting a boat through the Inside Passage and operating a salmon cannery forklift. His work took him from Texas to Seattle and eventually all the way to Kodiak, Alaska.



After hitchhiking across America, Crowley and his restless spirit returned to Houston where he became active in the folk scene. In the early 1970s, a 36-song demo tape of his original songs fell into the hands of Jesse Ed Davis, then the lead guitarist for Grammy-winner Taj Mahal. Impressed, Davis encouraged Crowley to come to Los Angeles and try his luck. Never one to refuse the call of adventure, Crowley headed west where he met musician Peter Beckett at a Hollywood party. Soon afterward the pair founded the group that would eventually evolve into the pop-rock band Player. An executive at RSO Records heard some of Crowley and Beckett’s songs and signed them to a record deal. The company, then one of the top labels in the business, notched nine No. 1 hits in 1978, including one by Player.[2]

That song was “Baby Come Back,” which held the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for three consecutive weeks.[3] With infectious riffs and a chorus that remains instantly recognizable, Player’s debut single went on to find its place in musical immortality. It has been featured in movies (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, Transformers, TV shows (The Simpsons, Cold Case) and national ad campaigns.

Another single from their self-titled debut album, “This Time I’m in It for Love,“ peaked at No. 10 on the charts. Player was hardly the last stop on Crowley’s musical journey, however. He left the band after Danger Zone, their second album, to explore different musical frontiers.


Crowley returned to the spotlight in the late 1980s, this time as a Nashville star, when RCA Records released his solo album Paint the Town and Hang the Moon Tonight in 1988. A heady mixture of musical influences ranging from classical, jazz, R&B and pop to timeless country, the LP is a testament to Crowley’s range as a writer and performer. Artists such as Rosanne Cash, Vince Gill and Bonnie Raitt contributed additional vocals.[4]

The album’s first single, “Boxcar 109“, hit No. 49 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and "I Know What I’ve Got" made it to No. 21. The biggest hit, however, was the rockabilly roof-shaker “Paint the Town and Hang the Moon Tonight,” which climbed to No. 13.

A newcomer to the solo scene, Crowley netted a nomination for Best New Male Vocalist at the Cashbox Nashville Music Awards and also performed live at the Academy of Country Music Awards as a nominee in the same category. He won the 1988 Texas Music Association Award for advancing the art of the state’s music and toured with Willie Nelson as a special guest.[5]

Writing and composing[edit]

Having conquered the charts twice in two different musical genres, Crowley turned his attention to an as-yet-unfulfilled ambition: movies. In 1991 he formed Black & White Pictures with fellow songwriter Alice Randall. The pair penned two screenplays together and sold them both. Black Diamond Express was picked up by Warner Bros. with Quincy Jones and Danny Glover attached as producers. Shadow Boxing was purchased by Paramount Pictures.

While neither film was produced, Crowley further demonstrated the range of his writing ability when his poem “Mesa” was a finalist in the 1992 National Writers Union Poetry Contest. He would also scratch his cinematic itch by composing original music for a number of film and television projects including The Anasazi: An American Treasure, for the Smithsonian Institution; Love and War, for Icelandic television; and 97 Brooks (2002), an independent feature. Crowley even made a foray into the world of live theater, contributing the musical accompaniment to the premiere of Roger Karshner’s The Dream Crust, a play that opened at the Met Theatre in Hollywood.

Crowley has continued to exercise his songwriting talents in the service of other artists. Among other songs, he co-wrote Guy Clark's “Baton Rouge” (1992), “Beyond the Great Divide” on Emmylou Harris’ album All I Intended to Be (2009 Grammy nominee, Best Contemporary Folk Album), and “Shawty Come Back” on Charlie Wilson’s Uncle Charlie (2010 Grammy nominee, Best R&B Album). Crowley has worked as a producer, overseeing the creation of Steve Young’s critically acclaimed 2000 recording Primal Young.

Today Crowley is focused primarily on songwriting and composing orchestral pieces. A true Renaissance man, he counts among his interests particle physics, biodiversity, photography and the work of Rumi, Rimbaud, Dostoevsky, Hesse, Lao Tzu, W.S. Burroughs, W. S. Merwin, Mark Twain and Joseph Campbell. He has said his mélange of musical influences includes Dave Brubeck, Bill Evans, J.S. Bach, George Gershwin, Gil Evans, Joao Gilberto, Aaron Copland, Brian Wilson, Little Richard, Miles Davis, Jimmy Reed, Ray Charles and Claus Ogerman.



Title Details
Beneath the Texas Moon


Year Single Peak chart
US Country[1] CAN Country
1988 "Boxcar 109" 49 * Beneath the Texas Moon
"Paint the Town and Hang the Moon Tonight" 13 *
1989 "I Know What I've Got" 21 12
"Beneath the Texas Moon" 55 66 Beneath the Texas Moon / Pink Cadillac soundtrack
* denotes unknown peak positions

Music videos[edit]

Year Video
1988 "Paint the Town and Hang the Moon Tonight"
1989 "Beneath the Texas Moon"


  1. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 109. ISBN 0-89820-177-2. 
  2. ^ "The Popdose Interview – Peter Beckett of Player - Popdose". Articles.popdose.com. 2013-02-26. Retrieved 2014-08-03. 
  3. ^ Music Row Magazine (Feb. 1989)
  4. ^ The Gavin Report (Feb. 1989)
  5. ^ "Singer J.C. Crowley Roams The Country Music Landscape - Morning Call". Articles.mcall.com. 1989-03-17. Retrieved 2013-10-16.