From Uncle John’s Third Bathroom Reader comes three examples of the real people who inspired famous songs:

  1. Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, by Jim Croce                         Jim Croce met the man who inspired “Leroy Brown” while stationed at Fort Dix Army base.  They were both going to school to be telephone linemen.  “He stayed there about a week and one evening he turned around and said he was really fed up and tired.  He went AWOL, and then came back at the end of the month to get his paycheck.  They put handcuffs on him and took him away.  Just to listen to him talk and see how ‘bad’ he was, I knew someday I was gonna write a song about him,” says Croce.
  2. The Sultans of Swing, by Dire Straits                         The Sultans of Swing was a jazz band that Mark Knopfler happened to see at a pub one night.  “They did a couple of requests.  I asked them for ‘Creole Love Call’, and it was great.  There are loads of bands like that.  They’re postmen, accountants, milkmen, draftsmen, teachers.  They just get together Sunday lunchtimes, nighttimes, and they play traditional jazz.  It’s funny, because they play this New Orleans music note-for-note…in Greenwich, England.”
  3. Peggy Sue, by Buddy Holly                                         This was Holly’s first solo record, and one of the most famous “girl-name” records in rock history.  But although Buddy made Peggy Sue famous, she wasn’t in love with him-she was Cricket drummer Jerry Allison’s girlfriend.  Later Jerry & Peggy Sue tied the knot, and Buddy celebrated with “Peggy Sue Got Married”.  He was dead by the time they divorced.