Meet A.J. Croce, Singer/Songwriter and Former Chester County Resident

We spoke with A.J. Croce, the son of Jim Croce and an accomplished singer/songwriter, who left Chester County as a toddler.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Jim Croce’s 1972 breakthrough release, You Don’t Mess Around with Jim. Much of that album—including the classic hits “Operator” and “Time in a Bottle”— was conceived in the Lyndell farmhouse he shared with his wife and his young son, A.J. The property is now the site of a newly erected and long-overdue memorial. Since leaving Chester County as a toddler, A.J. Croce has carved out an accomplished career as a singer/songwriter in his own right, all while keeping his dad’s legacy alive with his “Croce Plays Croce” touring show.

A.J. Croce
A.J. Croce. Photo by Joshua Black Wilkins

MLT: Greetings from Chester County. Is there anything you can tell us about that time in your life?

AC: I remember the ducks. I got bitten by a duck, so it stuck in my head. My parents moved there in 1970 from New York City. Before that, they’d both lived in Philadelphia. They were pretty discouraged at the time. Then my mom got pregnant, so it was a bit scary. While my dad was really on a tear as songwriter, I think he pretty much felt like he had one more chance. They really didn’t know what the future would hold.

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You Don’t Mess Around with Jim cost just $18,000 to make and spent 93 weeks on the charts. That’s impressive.

By the standards of 1972, it wasn’t a bad budget. It wasn’t recorded much differently than the way I’ve recorded albums over my career—which is live. They did a couple takes and kept the best one. All the songs were written, recorded and toured in 18 months—and that was the complete duration of my dad’s professional music career. Before that, he had different odd jobs and played music on the weekends. He recorded the demos for those songs at the farmhouse in Lyndell.

Do you think your perspective on your dad’s music would’ve been different had you known him?

I grew up with his record collection. In my 30s, when I found the tape with songs he was practicing for gigs, they were songs I’d played since I was probably 12 years old. That was the impetus for “Croce Plays Croce”—the connection between my father and me, the connection between all of us and our children, our parents and our friends. There are all these very real and sweet connections I like to share as part of the show.

Photo courtesy of A.J. Croce


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