Bad, Bad Leroy Brown: A Song of Southern Charm and Cautionary Tales

“Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” is a lively, story-driven song by American folk rock singer Jim Croce. Released on his 1973 album Life and Times, it became a big hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July of that year and holding the top spot for two weeks. It was so popular that Billboard named it the second biggest song of 1973.

Jim Croce was nominated for two Grammy Awards in 1973 for this song: Pop Male Vocalist and Record of the Year. Sadly, this was his only number-one single before he passed away on September 20, 1973. It was also the last single he released while he was alive.

The song tells the tale of Leroy Brown, a 6-foot-4 man from the South Side of Chicago. Known for his size, flashy clothes, diamond rings, and luxury cars, Leroy has a reputation that makes women admire him and men fear him. He’s always armed with a .32 caliber handgun and a razor in his shoe. One day, Leroy flirts with a married woman named Doris in a bar, which leads to a fight with her jealous husband. Despite his tough image, Leroy ends up losing the fight badly and is described as looking “like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone.”

The theme of a feared man getting beaten in a fight is similar to Croce’s earlier song, “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim.”

Billboard praised the song for its humorous lyrics and catchy tune, and Cash Box described it as a delightful follow-up to Croce’s earlier hit, “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim.” Record World also noted the similarity between the two songs, calling “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” another great story-song from Croce.

See also  Jim Croce - You Don't Mess Around with Jim


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