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)"
ReleasedMarch 20, 1973
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"

"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.[2]

Croce was nominated for two 1973 Grammy awards in the Pop Male Vocalist and Record of the Year categories for "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown".[3] It was his last number-one single before his death on September 20 of that year.


The song's title character is a tall man from the South Side of Chicago whose size, attitude, and tendency to carry weapons have given him a fearsome reputation. He is said to dress in fancy clothes and wear diamond rings, and to own a custom Lincoln Continental and a Cadillac Eldorado, implying he has a lot of money. 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, which Leroy loses badly.

The story of a widely feared man being bested in a fight is similar to that of 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 Dix, New Jersey. 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.[4]

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.[5]

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.[4]

Others have recently postulated that the song is a vague reference to Don Deadrick Robey who ended up in 1973 as a consultant to the ABC record label. Although Robey was from Houston, he had a reputation of using violence to control musicians, and demonstrated his good fortune by wearing diamond rings. Croce's death was shrouded in mystery, and it occurred in northern Louisiana in an area under the influence of associates of Robey. Robey often gambled at nearby Louisiana Downs, carried a gun, and once tried to enter a racehorse in the Kentucky Derby.[6]


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".[7]

Lyrics for the song Rock n Roll Heaven, popularized by the Righteous Brothers, recall the song and Croce.

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.[8]

Cover versions[edit]

Track listing[edit]

7" Single (ABC-11359)[12]

  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]


  1. ^ Dolan, Jon; Menconi, David; Ryan, Linda; Harvilla, Rob; Aaron, Charles; Murray, Nick; Grow, Kory; Powell, Mike; Moss, Marissa R.; Fischer, Reed; Gehr, Richard; Eddy, Chuck. "50 Rock Albums Every Country Fan Should Own". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2018-09-22. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  2. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1973
  3. ^ The LA Times "The Envelope" awards database Archived September 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b Croce, Jim (2007). "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown". Retrieved 2008-03-14.
  5. ^ "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.
  6. ^ Friedman, Josh Alan (2008). Tell the Truth Until They Bleed: Coming Clean in the Dirty World of Blues and Rock 'n' Roll. ISBN 9780879309329.
  7. ^ "Ol' Dirty Bastard – Snakes Lyrics". Rap Genius. 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  8. ^ "The Official Gary Chester Website - Discography". 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  9. ^ "Sonny and Cher".
  10. ^ "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown by No More Kings".
  11. ^ "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown' 77 by Dean Martin".
  12. ^ "Jim Croce – Bad, Bad Leroy Brown / A Good Time Man Like Me Ain't Got No Business (Singin' The Blues)". Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  13. ^ "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown". 1973-04-21. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  14. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 19, No. 24, July 28, 1973". Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  15. ^ "Adult Contemporary – Volume 19, No. 25, August 04 1973". Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  16. ^ "Go-Set Australian charts – 20 October 1973". 1973-10-20. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  17. ^ Steffen Hung. "Jim Croce – Bad, Bad Leroy Brown". Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  18. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-08-13.[dead link]
  19. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (July 8, 2017). "Image : RPM Weekly".
  20. ^ "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1973". 1973-12-29. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  21. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  22. ^ "Gold and Platinum". Retrieved 2011-08-13.

External links[edit]