Bad, Bad Leroy Brown

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"Bad, Bad Leroy Brown"
Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.jpg
Single by Jim Croce
from the album Life and Times
B-side "A Good Time Man Like Me Ain't Got No Business (Singin' the Blues)"
Released March 20, 1973
Format 45
Recorded 1972
Genre Folk rock
Length 3:02
Label ABC
Songwriter(s) Jim Croce
Producer(s) Terry Cashman, Tommy West
Jim Croce singles chronology
"One Less Set of Footsteps"
"Bad, Bad Leroy Brown"
"I Got a Name"
"One Less Set of Footsteps"
"Bad, Bad Leroy Brown"
"I Got a Name"

"Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" is a song written by American folk rock singer Jim Croce. Released as part of his 1973 album Life and Times, the song was a Number One pop hit for him, spending two weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1973. Billboard ranked it as the No. 2 song for 1973.[1]

Croce was nominated for two 1973 Grammy awards in the Pop Male Vocalist and Record of the Year categories for "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown".[2] It was his last number-one single before his death on September 20.


The song's title character is a man from the South Side of Chicago who, due to his size and attitude, has a reputation as the "baddest man in the whole damn town." One day, in a bar, he makes a pass at a pretty, married woman named Doris, whose jealous husband proceeds to beat Leroy brutally in the ensuing fight. In the end, Leroy Brown learns a lesson from this painful experience ("Leroy looked like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone"). During the lyrics about the fight, some background voices are heard quietly speaking.

In the song, Croce refers to a custom Continental and an El Dorado, both of which were former luxury American car models (Lincoln and Cadillac, respectively).

The story of a widely feared man being bested in a fight is similar to Croce's earlier song "You Don't Mess Around With Jim."


Croce's inspiration for the song was a friend he met in his brief time in the US Army:

I met him at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. We were in lineman (telephone) school together. He stayed there about a week, and one evening he turned around and said he was really fed up and tired. He went AWOL, and then came back at the end of the month to get his paycheck. They put handcuffs on him and took him away. Just to listen to him talk and see how 'bad' he was, I knew someday I was gonna write a song about him.[3]

He told a variation of this story on The Helen Reddy Show in July 1973:

This is a song about a guy I was in the army with... It was at Fort Dix, in New Jersey, that I met this guy. He was not made to climb the tree of knowledge, as they say, but he was strong, so nobody'd ever told him what to do, and after about a week down there he said "Later for this" and decided to go home. So he went AWOL—which means to take your own vacation—and he did. But he made the mistake of coming back at the end of the month to get his paycheck. I don't know if you've ever seen handcuffs put on anybody, but it was SNAP and that was the end of it for a good friend of mine, who I wrote this tune about, named Leroy Brown.[4]

Croce explained the chorus reference to Leroy Brown being "meaner than a junkyard dog":

Yeah, I spent about a year and a half driving those $29 cars, so I drove around a lot looking for a universal joint for a '57 Chevy panel truck or a transmission for a '51 Dodge. I got to know many junkyards well, and they all have those dogs in them. They all have either an axle tied around their necks or an old lawnmower to keep 'em at least slowed down a bit, so you have a decent chance of getting away from them.[3]


Professional wrestlers Junkyard Dog and Bad Leroy Brown used ring names inspired by the song.[citation needed]

On Croce's final album, I Got a Name, a "Leroy Brown" is credited as a backing vocalist.

The song inspired Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury (who cited Croce as one of his artistic inspirations) to write the song "Bring Back That Leroy Brown" for the band's third album, Sheer Heart Attack, released a year after Croce died.

The song is quoted by rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard in his song "Snakes".[5]

Loretta Lynn's album Van Lear Rose contains the song "Mrs. Leroy Brown", about a jealous wife exacting revenge on a cheating husband.

In the movie Crocodile Dundee II, Crocodile Dundee's friend, who has a self-perceived image as a "bad guy in the streets", is called Leroy Brown.[citation needed]


The recording session that produced the song was one of several that Croce did using session drummer Gary Chester.[6]

Cover versions[edit]

Track listing[edit]

7" Single (ABC-11359)[10]

  1. "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" – 3:02
  2. "A Good Time Man Like Me Ain't Got No Business (Singin' The Blues)" – 2:03

Chart history[edit]

"Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" was released in April 1973 and peaked at number one on the American charts three months later. It was still on the charts on September 20 when Croce died in a plane crash in Natchitoches, Louisiana. It was the second #1 song on the "Billboard" Hot 100 pop singles chart to include a curse word ("damn") in its lyrics, after the "Theme from Shaft".

Weekly charts[edit]

Preceded by
"Will It Go Round in Circles" by Billy Preston
US Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
July 21, 1973 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"The Morning After" by Maureen McGovern
Preceded by
"Yesterday Once More" by The Carpenters
Canadian RPM 100 number-one single
July 28, 1973
Succeeded by
"Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett
Preceded by
"Shambala" by Three Dog Night
US Cash Box number-one single
July 28, 1973
Succeeded by
"Yesterday Once More" by The Carpenters


  1. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1973
  2. ^ The LA Times "The Envelope" awards database Archived September 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b Croce, Jim (2007). "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown". Retrieved 2008-03-14. 
  4. ^ "Jim Croce on "The Helen Reddy Show" U.S. TV 1974 (2 songs)". The Helen Reddy Show. video clip on YouTube. July 1973. Retrieved August 26, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Ol' Dirty Bastard – Snakes Lyrics". Rap Genius. 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  6. ^ "The Official Gary Chester Website - Discography". 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Sonny and Cher". 
  8. ^ "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown by No More Kings". 
  9. ^ "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown' 77 by Dean Martin". 
  10. ^ "Jim Croce – Bad, Bad Leroy Brown / A Good Time Man Like Me Ain't Got No Business (Singin' The Blues)". Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  11. ^ "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown". 1973-04-21. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  12. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 19, No. 24, July 28, 1973". Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  13. ^ "Adult Contemporary – Volume 19, No. 25, August 04 1973". Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  14. ^ "Go-Set Australian charts – 20 October 1973". 1973-10-20. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  15. ^ Steffen Hung. "Jim Croce – Bad, Bad Leroy Brown". Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  16. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-08-13. [dead link]
  17. ^ "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1973". 1973-12-29. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  18. ^ "Gold and Platinum". Retrieved 2011-08-13. 

External links[edit]