1973 – Jim Croce releases “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”

“Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” was to be Jim Croce’s last number one single – it was released only six months prior to Croce’s death in 1973. In the song, Bad, Bad Leroy Brown is a big tough guy from the South Side of Chicago, who doesn’t take crap from anyone – until one night he meets a man who is bigger and tougher than him.

“Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” was the second single from Croce’s fourth album, “Life and Times”. It earned Croce two Grammy nominations (for Pop Male Vocalist and Record of the Year) and was still on the charts at the time of Croce’s death, having spent three months climbing to number one and three months descending.

Referenced in:
Bring Back That Leroy Brown — Queen
Rock and Roll Heaven — The Righteous Brothers

1973 – Bobby Darin dies

In 1968, Bobby Darin was doing well for himself. He’d had a string of hits over the last decade, starting in 1958 with “Splish Splash”, and continuing with “Dream Lover”, “Beyond the Sea” and “Mack the Knife” that had brought pleasure to millions. And then things went bad for him in a hurry. A close friend of and campaigner for Bobby Kennedy, he was present when Kennedy was shot and killed. Later that same year, he learned that the people he had always believed were his parents were actually his grandparents, and the woman he had thought was his sister was actually his mother.

Darin’s health, never great, took a turn for the worse under the stress of it all. He underwent heart surgery in 1971, and in 1973, developed an infection which led to sepsis that eventually killed him. He was only 37 years old. And not being done making the world a better place, he donated his body to science.

Referenced in:
Rock and Roll Heaven — The Righteous Brothers

1968 – Otis Redding’s “The Dock of the Bay” is released

Otis Redding wrote other songs that are well remembered for, such as “Respect” (best known for Aretha Franklin’s version of it), but to most people, his name is best associated with “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”. As it should be, since it is an absolutely fantastic song.

Otis wrote the first verse in June 1967, but got a little stuck with it. More than a year later, he worked with Steve “The Colonel’ Cropper to finish the song. In a later interview, Cropper said that the song was autobiographical for Redding.

Many people have done cover versions of the song, but Michael Bolton was not one of them, whatever you may have heard.

Referenced in:
Rock and Roll Heaven — The Righteous Brothers

1970 — Jimi Hendrix dies

Widely acclaimed as the greatest guitar player of all time, Jimi Hendrix was only 27 years old when he died. He had released only 4 albums before his death, but he was already one of the iconic figures of the Sixties. He popularised the use of the Fender Stratocaster, the guitar on which he played, and he played some of the greatest live sets of all time at Woodstock and Monterey.

Although occasional allegations of murder or suicide have been made, it seems most probably that Hendrix’ death was a tragic accident. He asphyxiated on his own vomit after taking a combination of an overdose of sleeping pills (Hendrix was unfamiliar with the brand and it was stronger than he likely realised) and red wine. He died in London, but his body was returned to his native Seattle for burial.

Referenced in:
L.A. Money Train — Rollins Band
Six Strings Down — Jimmie Vaughan
(He’ll Never Be An) Ol’ Man River — This Is Serious Mum
Rock And Roll Hall Of Death — Mitch Benn And The Distractions

1973 — Jim Croce dies in a plane crash

Probably best known for his singles, Operator, You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, Time in a Bottle, and his biggest hit, Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, Croce was a American singer-songwriter who enjoyed a too-brief fame in the early Seventies.

His career was tragically cut short when he and his close friend and frequent collaborator Maury Muehleisen died when the light aircaft they were flying in crashed en route between Natchitoches, Louisiana, and Sherman, Texas.

Referenced in:
Air Crash Museum — The Dead Milkmen

1971 – Jim Morrison dies

Morrison died on July 3, 1971, at age 27. In the official account of his death, he was found in a Paris apartment bathtub by Courson. Pursuant to French law, no autopsy was performed because the medical examiner claimed to have found no evidence of foul play. The absence of an official autopsy has left many questions regarding Morrison’s cause of death.

Many believed that Morrison had in fact faked his death, as he had occasionally talked of doing over the preceding few years, but if so, he has yet to reappear. And it’s hard to believe that a man with Morrison’s ego and drug use could have stayed anonymous for nearly 40 years now…

Referenced in:
Morrison Hostel — This Is Serious Mum
Rock and Roll Heaven — The Righteous Brothers
Rock And Roll Hall Of Death — Mitch Benn And The Distractions