A. J. Croce
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A. J. Croce
Croce in 2017
|Birth name||Adrian James Croce|
|Born||September 28, 1971|
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Genres||Pop, rock, blues, country|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, songwriter, musician|
|Labels||Private Music, Ruf, Compass|
Life, family, and tragedies
Croce was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, on September 28, 1971, and his early years were filled with tragedy. His father died in a plane crash just before his second birthday, and he and his newly-widowed mother had to move to San Diego, almost 3,000 miles from his native city and the rest of his family. Two years later, he was completely blinded as the result of serious physical abuse at the hands of his mother's boyfriend. (According to his mother's autobiography, "When our son Adrian James was almost four, he suffered a brain tumor syndrome and went blind.") He did, however, gradually regain vision in his left eye and found respite in learning to play the piano. "I learned to play music by listening and playing along to the radio and to records. At some point I was given the music of Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder as inspiration, which it was, and has been ever since." When he was 15 the house in which he had lived for most of his life burned down.
In 2018, his spouse, Marlo Gordon Croce, died of "a rare and sudden heart virus" while he himself was in the midst of a health scare, and he was left a single father to two children, a daughter, Camille, and a son, Elijah. Per a New Year's Eve 2018 post of his on Facebook page:
2018 was the hardest year of my life. It began with me having very bad health and just as I was recovering, Marlo (my wife of 24 years) died of a rare and sudden heart virus. My muse, my best friend and the mother of our children is gone, it’s hard for me even to believe it as a [sic.] write. For all of my friends out there I wouldn't have made it if it wasn't for you. Thank you all for giving me love and hope. 2019 will surely be a better year. Happy New Year and Peace to you all from Nashville, TN.
Croce's first paying gig was at the age of 12, when he was paid $20 ($53.45 in 2019 worth) to perform at a bar mitzvah party. By the age of 16, Croce was performing regularly at San Diego nightclubs as a sideman and band leader. Croce reflected, "I was into every kind of music... you might say I was unfocused, but I consider an eclectic taste in music to be the foundation of versatility." Ron Goldstein and Peter Baumann of Private Music signed Croce to his first recording contract at age 19. He recorded two albums for Private Music: his self-titled debut, A. J. Croce, produced by T-Bone Burnett and John Simon, and That's Me in the Bar, produced by Jim Keltner, and featuring Ry Cooder and David Hidalgo. Croce is also the owner/operator of his own record label, Seedling Records.
Croce's third album, Fit to Serve, was recorded in Memphis and produced by Jim Gaines, who produced Van Morrison, Santana, and the Steve Miller Band. Croce then took a musical turn with the release of his album Transit. He explained, "I had been playing blues-based music for a long time, and I was ready to try something new." Transit was compared by critics to the work of John Lennon, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, and Van Morrison. Glen Starkey of New Times labeled Croce "a song crafter of the first order".
Croce's next three albums were self-produced. Adrian James Croce (Croce's only pop-oriented album) was the only independently produced album of 2004 to chart in Top 40 charts in America. In Europe it was on the charts for six months, sitting in between songs by U2 and Coldplay. That same year Adrian James Croce won Best Pop album at the San Diego Music Awards. His 2006 album Cantos on his own label, Seedling Records, notably features Ben Harper. In 2009, his album Cage of Muses was released on Seedling, garnering a 4-star review from Rolling Stone magazine.
In 2013, Croce signed with Compass Records and released Twelve Tales. He recorded two songs with each of six producers in five U.S. cities throughout a yearlong period, simultaneously releasing one song per month exclusively on iTunes in 2013. The full album was released on CD and LP in 2014. The album's producers were 'Cowboy' Jack Clement, famous for his work with Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash; Rock n' Roll Hall of Famer Allen Toussaint, producer of Dr. John and Irma Thomas; Golden Globe-nominated Mitchell Froom, whose work includes Randy Newman and Crowded House; Grammy-winning engineer and producer Kevin Killen, who produced multiple albums by Elvis Costello; Notable A&R executive and record producer Tony Berg, whose sessions have included Bob Dylan and Fiona Apple; and Greg Cohen, avant-garde bass player and producer, known for his work with Tom Waits. Croce co-wrote a few of the songs on Twelve Tales, including one song with songwriter Leon Russell. Croce's albums have charted on eight radio charts including AAA, Blues, College, Jazz, and Americana.
He has performed as an opening act for Carlos Santana, Rod Stewart, Aretha Franklin, Dr. John, Lyle Lovett, James Brown, B.B. King, Dave Matthews, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Ray Charles. Croce has sat in with many notable artists live, including Willie Nelson, Ben Harper, Ry Cooder, the Neville Brothers, Waylon Jennings, and David Hidalgo (Los Lobos). He has also performed on national television, on shows including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Today Show, Good Morning America, MTV, CNN, and Austin City Limits.
In 2013, Croce was asked to be a performer at TEDxLaJolla, an independently produced TED ("Ideas Worth Spreading") event, the organization who organizes annual events with speakers on groundbreaking advances is technology, entertainment, and design.
- A. J. Croce (Private Music, 1993)
- That's Me in the Bar (Private Music, 1995)
- Fit to Serve (1998)
- Transit (2000)
- Adrian James Croce (2004)
- Early On – The American Recordings 1993–1998 (2005)
- Cantos (2006)
- Cage of Muses (2009)
- Twelve Tales (2014)
- Just Like Medicine (2017)
- Hislop, Christopher (March 5, 2015) A.J. Croce brings live show to The Loft
- "A. J. Croce". Last.fm. March 12, 2013. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
- "A.J. Croce | Artists". Seedlingrecords.com. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
- "Shining Sons – Sexiest Man Alive". People. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
- That's Me in the Bar – A.J. Croce | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards. AllMusic. Retrieved July 4, 2015.
- "Home". Seedlingrecords.com. January 29, 2013. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
- AJ Croce – Early on / the American recordings 1993–1998. Muziekwereld.com (December 14, 2005). Retrieved 4 July 2015.
- 2004 Winners. San Diego Music Awards. Retrieved July 4, 2015.
- A. J. Croce :: Cage Of Muses – Rolling Stone. Rollingstone.de (June 23, 2009). Retrieved 4 July 2015.
- Album premiere: A. J. Croce's 'Twelve Tales'. USA Today. (January 28, 2014). Retrieved 4 July 2015.
- Steel City Coffee House welcomes A.J. Croce. Phoenixvillenews.com (September 20, 1973). Retrieved 4 July 2015.
- "Home". TEDxLaJolla. Retrieved March 2, 2016.