Folk Rock Music
The song was written by Jim Croce. Part of the inspiration for the song was an person named Leroy Brown, whom Croce met while in the U.S. National Guard. Croce enjoyed the man’s style and would sing with him. Brown, unfortunately, went AWOL and then returned at the end of the month to get his paycheck. He was arrested. The song was released on Croce’s 1972 album Life and Times. In 1973, it was released as a single, backed with “A Good Time Man Like Me Ain’t Got No business (Singin’ The Blues). The song went to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, U.S. Cash Box Top 100, and in Canada. It peaked at #11 in Australia and was in the Top 40 in The Netherlands and Germany. The song sold more than one million copies and received RIAA Gold certification. “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” was still on the charts when Croce died on September 20, 1973 in a plane crash in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
Two trivia tidbits regarding the song are as follows. The piano riff, which is played by one of the producers Tommy West, at the beginning was based on Bobby Darin’s song “Queen of the Hop.” The woman named Doris is in the song is based on the other producer Terry Cashman’s sister Doris, who was a Dominican nun and a big supporter of Croce’s music.
There have been covers of the song by a number of artists. The long list includes Frank Sinatra, Anthony Armstrong Jones, Dolly Parton, The Max Levin Ensemble, Jerry Reed, Little Willie Littlefield, Kim Carnes, Celtic Thunder’s Ryan Kelly, Dean Martin, and many more.
Personnel on the album include Jim Croce (guitar, vocals), Maury Muehleisen (guitar, vocals), Kenny Ascher (organ), Terry Cashman (vocals), Gary Chester (drums), the famous songwriter Ellie Greenwich (vocals), Michael Kamen (synthesizer), Joe Macho (bass), Alan Rolnick (guitar, vocals), Tasha Thomas (vocals), Eric Weissberg (violin), and Tommy West (bass, keyboards, vocals).