The Day Jim Croce's Leroy Brown Was The Baddest Man All Around

07/21/2011
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(Gibson) Leroy Brown was badder than old King Kong, meaner than a junkyard dog and the subject of Jim Croce's first chart-topping single. It was a big turning point in the singer-songwriter's career, which had seen its share of hits in the previous year, but none like "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," which began a two-week run at #1 on this day in 1973.

The song, about a nasty character from Chicago's south side who gets what's coming to him at the hands of a jealous man, bears a striking resemblance (at least in its story) to one of Croce's earlier hits, "You Don't Mess Around with Jim." Both feature big, tough dudes who eventually find trouble when they run into even bigger, tougher dudes. The main characters in each song were based on a real guy, whom Croce had met during a stint in the army.

"I met him at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. We were in lineman [telephone] school together," Croce explained. "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 pay check. 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." more on this story

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