March 1973: Jim Croce Releases "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown"

Jim Croce on The Midnight Special
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(YouTube)

Jim Croce was a one of the great troubadours of the early '70s, a gifted storyteller who would spin pieces of his own life into chart-topping hits/ Such was the case with his 1973 smash, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown."

The song was inspired during Croce's brief time in the National Guard during the late '60s. "Leroy Brown is a guy that he actually met," his wife, Ingrid Croce, told Songfacts. "When he was in the service - The National Guard - this guy had gone AWOL. He was a guy that Jim kind of related to, he liked to sing with him. This guy had gone AWOL but he came back to get his paycheck, and he got caught. Jim just thought he was such a funny guy that he thought he'd include his name in the song, and it just worked. There really was a Leroy Brown, and sometimes having a name helps you to build a song around it."

Released as a single on March 20, 1973, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" would enjoy a swift ride up the Billboard charts, peaking at #1 over the week of July 20, 1973. It held the top spot for two weeks, finally toppled August 4, 1973, by Maureen McGovern's "Morning After." The song's reign would mark only the second time a track with a curse word in the lyrics--in this case, "damn"--would top the pop charts. The first: Isaac Hayes' "Theme from Shaft" in 1971.

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