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Subject: ARCHIVE: July 18, 1966 ~Musician Bobby Fuller, American rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist best known for "Let Her Dance", and "I Fought the Law", recorded with his group The Bobby Fuller Four, and whose untimely -and mysterious- death at 24, causes speculation to this day. ...

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Date Posted: Saturday, July 18, 12:08:36pm

American rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist best known for "Let Her Dance"
and "I Fought the Law", recorded with his group The Bobby Fuller Four. ...

Bobby Fuller
[ Robert Gaston Fuller ]
(October 22, 1942 July 18, 1966)

Early life ...
Born in Baytown, Texas, Fuller was born in the middle of three boys, having a maternal older half-brother, Jack, and a younger brother, Randy. Fuller moved as a small child to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he remained until 1956, when he and his family moved to El Paso, Texas. His father got a job at El Paso Natural Gas at that time. It was the same year that Elvis Presley became popular, and Bobby Fuller became mesmerized by the new rock and roll star. Fuller soon adopted the style of fellow Texan Buddy Holly, fronting a four-man combo and often using original material.

Career ...
During the early 1960s, he played in clubs and bars in El Paso, and he recorded on independent record labels in Texas with a constantly changing line-up. The only constant band members were Fuller and his younger brother, Randy Fuller (born on January 29, 1944, in Hobbs, New Mexico) on bass. Most of these independent releases (except two songs recorded at the studio of Norman Petty in Clovis), and an excursion to Yucca Records, also in New Mexico, were recorded in the Fullers' own home studio, with Fuller acting as the producer. He even built a primitive echo chamber in the back yard. The quality of the recordings, using a couple of microphones and a mixing board purchased from a local radio station, was so impressive that he offered the use of his "studio" to local acts for free so he could hone his production skills.

...Fuller moved to Los Angeles in 1964 with his band 'The Bobby Fuller Four', and was signed to Mustang Records by producer Bob Keane, who was noted for discovering Ritchie Valens and producing many surf music groups. By this time, the group consisted of Fuller and his brother Randy on vocals/guitar and bass respectively, Jim Reese on guitar and DeWayne Quirico on drums; this was the lineup that recorded "I Fought The Law". (There are actually two versions of "I Fought The Law" by Fuller: the original hit was released as a 45-rpm single, and the re-recording was issued on an album. The arrangements are identical but the vocals by Fuller are slightly different.)

At a time when the British Invasion and folk rock were the dominant genres in rock, Fuller stuck to Buddy Holly's style of classic rock and roll with Tex Mex flourishes. His recordings, both covers and originals, also reveal the influences of Eddie Cochran, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and The Everly Brothers, as well as surf guitar. Less well known was Fuller's ability to emulate the reverb-laden surf guitar of Dick Dale and The Ventures. His first Top 40 hit was the self-penned "Let Her Dance". His second hit, "I Fought the Law", peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 on March 1219, 1966. The song was originally written and recorded by Sonny Curtis, who became a member of Buddy Holly's former group The Crickets after Holly's death. The group's third Top 40 single was a cover of Holly's "Love's Made a Fool of You." ...

Death ...
Within months of "I Fought the Law" becoming a top 10 hit, Fuller was found dead in an automobile parked outside his Hollywood apartment. The Los Angeles deputy medical examiner, Jerry Nelson, performed the autopsy. According to Dean Kuipers: "The report states that Bobby's face, chest, and side were covered in 'petechial hemorrhages,' probably caused by gasoline vapors and the summer heat. He found no bruises, no broken bones, no cuts. No evidence of beating." Kuipers further explains that boxes for "accident" and "suicide" were checked, but next to the boxes were question marks. Despite the official cause of death, some commentators believe Fuller was murdered.

Erik Greene, a relative of Sam Cooke, has cited similarities in the deaths of Cooke and Fuller. Fuller bandmate Jim Reese suspected that Charles Manson played a role in Fuller's death, but never provided credible evidence. Also Manson could not possibly have been involved, because he was in prison from 1961 to 1967. A sensationalist crime website has speculated that the Los Angeles Police Department may have been involved because of Fuller's connection to a Mafia-related woman. His death was profiled in a segment of TV's "Unsolved Mysteries". Sometime after the Unsolved Mysteries segment in question initially aired, the cause of Fuller's death was officially changed from "suicide" to "accident." ...

His death was also explored in the May 11, 2015 episode of the NPR program "All Things Considered" Podcast. The program references
the book I Fought the Law: The Life and Strange Death of Bobby Fuller, by Miriam Linna, with contributions by Randy Fuller.
Fuller was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, under a simple bronze marker. ...

In popular culture ...
The indie rock band Metric referenced both Bobby Fuller's name and "I Fought the Law" on their 2006 single "Monster Hospital". In 2015, producer and artist Terry Manning released a tribute album to his friend and mentor Bobby Fuller entitled West Texas Skyline. In 2017, Chuck Prophet released the critically lauded album Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins. The Clash recorded a cover version of "I Fought the Law" on an EP and became a standard of their live shows. It was also covered by the Dead Kennedys. Phil Seymour's recording of "Let Her Dance" was a hit single in various cities in the U.S. in 1981 and 1982.

Links ...

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Subject Author Date
Here is the bizarre early death of Bobby's older half-brother (from mother's previous marriage) Jack in 1961. ...BackstorySaturday, July 18, 12:24:22pm
Robert Gaston Fuller was 23, not 24, at death (NT)born 22 October 1942, died 18 July 1966Saturday, July 18, 07:08:45pm

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