This past week in 1973, Jim Croce’s hit “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” took the crown as the No. 1 single in the United States. Croce was inspired to write the material during his time in the military and based the song on a fellow he had known whose frustration with the system got the better of him. The man went AWOL after only one week, and when he eventually returned to claim his paycheck, he was cuffed and taken in for questioning. The single received two Grammy nominations and has been covered by such artists as Frank Sinatra and Dolly Parton. Sadly, just a few months later, 30-year-old Jim Croce died with five others in a tragic plane crash September 20, 1973.
Croce’s life and musical accomplishments were celebrated on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert on January 1, 1984 in a tribute episode hosted by record producer and close friend Tommy West. The program featured candid moments of Croce, including images of Jim with his two-year-old son, Adrian James, who has since followed in his father’s footsteps and become an accomplished musician. The program showcased performances and videos for Croce’s songs including “Photographs and Memories”, “Hard Way Every Time”, “Workin’ At The Car Wash Blues”, “Speedball Tucker”, “Rapid Roy”, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”, “Time In A Bottle”, “I Fell In Love With A Roller Derby Queen”, “Salon and Saloon”, “Lover’s Cross”, and “I Got A Name”.
Many notable musicians have cited Croce as an influence on their work over the years. Freddie Mercury wrote the song “Bring Back Leroy Brown” for the Queen album Sheer Heart Attack, which was released following Croce’s death. Croce released six studio albums, three achieved Gold certification by the RIAA, and he has since been inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. Croce was known for being an inspiration to the everyman and will always be remembered as one of the music industry’s most important and cherished recording artists.