Bad, Bad Leroy Brown
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|"Bad, Bad Leroy Brown"|
|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|
|Jim Croce singles chronology|
"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.
Croce was nominated for two 1973 Grammy awards in the Pop Male Vocalist and Record of the Year categories for "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown". 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 Brown looked like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone"). During the lyrics about the fight, some background voices are heard quietly speaking.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Frank Sinatra recorded a cover version of the song. His version was released as a single from Sinatra's 1974 album Some Nice Things I've Missed, and peaked on the pop charts at #83.
- Country music artist Anthony Armstrong Jones released a cover on Epic Records in 1973, reaching #33 on the U.S. country charts with it.
- Dolly Parton performed the song twice on her 1976–77 TV series Dolly! (although, in her version, she changed the song's locale from Chicago to Nashville).
- Punk rock band The Max Levine Ensemble covered it on their CD, It's Entertainment!
- Jerry Reed covered it on his Jim Croce tribute album Jerry Reed Sings Jim Croce in 1980.
- Little Willie Littlefield recorded a version for his 1990 album Singalong with Little Willie Littlefield.
- Kim Carnes covered it on the compilation album Jim Croce: A Nashville Tribute in 1997.
- Celtic Thunder's Ryan Kelly also covered the song.
- Paul Lynde performed this song with the substitution "a water Pistol" in place of "razor in his shoe"
- Sonny & Cher had a live action with themselves offering Leroy Brown a drink in a cartoon version of this song
- No More Kings
- Sylvie Vartan recorded a French language version entitled "Bye bye Leroy Brown" in 1974.
- Dean Martin performed this song at Westchester Premier Theatre, New York, 1977.
- The song can also be heard In Home Alone 3.
- Guy Lombardo's Orchestra performed the song on a New Year's Eve TV broadcast, only the lyric was changed to "the whole darn town".
- Vinnie Jones performed the song on the television show TOTP2 in December 2002.
- Jerry Lee Lewis performed the song on his The Knox Phillips Sessions - The Unreleased Recordings
- Amaya Uranga performed a cover in Spanish (called "Malasombra") in her 1988 album "Sobre El Latido De La Ciudad".
7" Single (ABC-11359)
- "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" – 3:02
- "A Good Time Man Like Me Ain't Got No Business (Singin' The Blues)" – 2:03
"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.
"Will It Go Round in Circles" by Billy Preston
|US Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
July 21, 1973 (two weeks)
"The Morning After" by Maureen McGovern
"Yesterday Once More" by The Carpenters
|Canadian RPM 100 number-one single
July 28, 1973
"Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett
"Shambala" by Three Dog Night
|US Cash Box number-one single
July 28, 1973
"Yesterday Once More" by The Carpenters
- Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1973
- The LA Times "The Envelope" awards database Archived September 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
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- "Top Singles – Volume 19, No. 24, July 28, 1973". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
- "Adult Contemporary – Volume 19, No. 25, August 04 1973". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
- "Go-Set Australian charts – 20 October 1973". Poparchives.com.au. 1973-10-20. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
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