Jim Croce – Bad, Bad Leroy Brown Song Meaning

Bad, Bad Leroy Brown – Jim Croce | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#1 for 2 weeks); 1973

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

Like “The Wanderer” – about whom Dion sang in 1962 – a real-life Leroy Brown also inspired a singer to capture his character on vinyl. Jim Croce met the original Leroy while in telephone lineman school at Fort Dix, New Jersey, just up the freeway from Croce’s hometown of Philadelphia. Student Brown got fed up one day and simply walked off the base, only to return on payday to pick up his check. AWOL Brown soon found himself cuffed, and Croce found himself a song waiting to be written. When composing time came around, Jim fleshed out his tale of Leroy with a junkyard dog image drawn from times spent scrounging around for parts to fix up Jim’s broken-down car of the moment. Once Jim landed a recording deal, he began turning his life stories into gold. Bad, Bad Leroy Brown became Jim’s first #1, and was in the final week of its chart run when Jim was killed in a plane crash.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Terry Cashman
  • Tommy West

Lyrics Written by:

  • Jim Croce


  • Grammy Award Nominations: Jim Croce was Grammy nominated for “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” in Pop Male Vocalist and Record of the Year categories (1973)
  • American Music Award: Jim Croce won American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist (1974)
  • Top 40 Weekly Top Songs of the 70s Chart Position: #87