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Bobby Fuller
Birth name Robert Gaston Fuller
Born October 22, 1942(1942-10-22)
Baytown, Texas,
United States
Origin El Paso, Texas
Died July 18, 1966 (aged 23)
Los Angeles, California,
United States
Genres Rock, pop
Occupations Singer-songwriter, Musician
Instruments Guitar
Labels Liberty Records
Yucca Records
Mustang Records
Associated acts The Bobby Fuller Four

Robert Gaston "Bobby" Fuller (October 22, 1942 – July 18, 1966) was an American rock singer, songwriter, and guitar player best known for his singles "I Fought the Law" and "Love's Made a Fool of You," recorded with his mid-1960s group, the Bobby Fuller Four.


Life and career

Born in Baytown, Texas, Fuller spent most of his youth in El Paso, where he idolized Buddy Holly, a fellow Texan (Holly was a native of Lubbock). He played in clubs and bars, and recorded on independent record labels in Texas, with a constantly changing line-up, during the early 1960s. The only constant band members were Fuller himself (on vocals and guitar), 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 that were 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-cum-studio, with Fuller acting as the producer. He even built a primitive echo chamber in the backyard. 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 even 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.[1] By this time, group consisted of Bobby and brother Randy on vocals/guitar and bass respectively, Jim Reese on guitar and DeWayne Quirico (later replaced by Dalton Powell) on drums.

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 reveal the influence of Eddie Cochran, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and the Everly Brothers in cover recordings and original compositions, as well as instrumental surf guitar. Less well known was Fuller's ability to emulate the reverb-laden surf guitar sounds of Dick Dale and the Ventures. His first Top 40 hit was "Let Her Dance," written by Bobby Fuller.[2] His second hit, "I Fought the Law," hit #8 on Billboard. It was written by Sonny Curtis, a former member of Holly's group The Crickets[3], and recorded by the line-up of the Fuller brothers, James Reese on guitar, and Dalton Powell on drums. His third Top 40 hit was the Buddy Holly cover song "Love's Made a Fool of You."[4]


Just after "I Fought The Law" became a top ten hit, Bobby Fuller was found dead in his automobile, which was parked outside his Hollywood apartment. The police considered the death an apparent suicide/accident, however, some people believe Fuller was murdered.[5] The investigation was botched from the start. The crime scene was not secured and no fingerprints were obtained. A witness also claimed seeing a police officer throw a can of gasoline found at the scene into the trash. Fuller was found with multiple wounds all over his body and covered in gasoline, leading many to speculate that the perpetrators fled before they could set the car on fire.[6] Police later changed the cause of death to "accidental asphyxiation" citing no evidence of foul play.[7] Despite the official cause of death stated by authorities, rumors and speculation still surround Fuller's mysterious death.[8][9] Fuller is buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

The relatives of Sam Cooke have noted similarities in the mysterious nature of his death with those surrounding the death of Bobby Fuller. [10]

After his brother's death, Randy Fuller took over lead vocal duties and named the band after himself, but the band broke up within months of Bobby's death. Randy Fuller recorded a couple of solo singles, and in spring 1969 joined Dewey Martin's New Buffalo (Springfield), which evolved into Blue Mountain Eagle in July 1969. He appeared on the band's lone LP for Atco Records in early 1970 before briefly joining Dewey Martin and Medicine Ball.

Bobby Fuller's recordings have been reissued by Norton Records, Del-Fi Records, Rhino Records and Munster Records.


Bobby Fuller's compositions included "Let Her Dance", "Another Sad and Lonely Night", "She's My Girl", "Take My Word", "Phantom Dragster", "King of the Wheels", "Fool of Love", "Never to be Forgotten", "My True Love", "Only When I Dream", "Little Annie Lou", "A New Shade of Blue", "Saturday Night", "You Kiss Me", and "Don't Ever Let Me Know".

References in popular culture

  • "I Fought The Law" was background music in King Of The Hill in Dales van.
  • The 2002 novel The Dead Circus, by John Kaye, includes the murder of Bobby Fuller as a major plot point. At the end of the book, the main character decides that Fuller had been killed by mafia henchmen trying to please Frank Sinatra.
  • The Rock*A*Teens refer to Fuller's alleged murder in the song "Who Killed Bobby Fuller?", on their 1995 self-titled debut. A different song with the same name was previously recorded by Irish rock band Black 47 in 1994.
  • Both Fuller and "I Fought the Law" are referenced on Lou Reed's album Street Hassle
  • Fuller is mentioned in "Lil' Cal's Big Mistake" by The Knack on their album Round Trip: "...Calvin thinkin' he was Bobby Fuller / Squealing and swinging / Don swore he was singing / A verse or two of 'I Fought The Law'..."
  • Fuller is also the subject of Black 47's "Who killed Bobby Fuller?"
  • John Mellencamp refers to Bobby Fuller in the song, "R-O-C-K In the USA," on Mellencamp's Scarecrow album.
  • A Japan-only tribute album, entitled Our Favorite Texan: Bobby Fuller Four-Ever! was released on CD in 1999 on #9 Records. It featured artists such as Marshall Crenshaw, Young Fresh Fellows, Bill Lloyd, Walter Clevenger, and Smithereens side project Buzzed Meg.
  • Canadian band Metric borrows lyrics from "I Fought the Law" and references Bobby Fuller's mysterious death in the song "Monster Hospital": "I fought the war/ I fought the war but the war won... Daddy Warbucks up against Bobby Fuller/He beat him hands down/Lead in his head/Put a little lead in/In his head!".
  • UK band The Clash covered "I Fought The Law" with great success and worldwide exposure. It became an important part of the bands repertoire and catalog.
  • The song "A New Shade of Blue" is playing in the back round at the bar room meeting of Teena (Brandon) and Candice in the movie "Boys Don't Cry"
  • In the film Fantastic Mr. Fox, Let Her Dance is used in the final sequence.



Original US singles

  • "Guess We'll Fall In Love" / "You're In love" (Yucca 45-140, 1962) 1
  • "My Heart Jumped" / "Gently My Love" (Yucca 45-144, 1962) 2
  • "Nervous Breakdown" / "Not Fade Away" (Eastwood NO8W-0344/0345, 1962) 2
  • "Saturday Night" / "Stringer" (Todd 45-1090, 1963) 2
  • "Wine, Wine, Wine" / "King Of The Beach" (Exeter EXT 122, 1964) 2
  • "I Fought The Law" / "She's My Girl" (Exeter EXT 124, 1964) 2
  • "Fool Of Love" / "Shakedown" (Exeter EXT 126, 1964) 3
  • "Those Memories Of You" / "Our Favorite Martian" (Donna 1403, 1964) 3
  • "Wolfman" / "Thunder Reef" (Mustang 3003, 1964/65) 4
  • "Take My Word" / "She's My Girl" (Mustang 3004, 1965) 5
  • "Never To Be Forgotten" / "You Kissed Me" (Mustang 3011, 1965) 5
  • "Another Sad And Lonely Night" / "Let Her Dance" (Mustang 3012, 1965) 5
  • "Another Sad And Lonely Night" / "Let Her Dance" (Liberty 55812, 1965) 5
  • "I Fought The Law" / "Little Annie Lou" (Mustang 3014, 1965) 5
  • "Love's Made A Fool Of You" / "Don't Ever Let Me Know" (Mustang M 3016, 1966) 5
  • "The Magic Touch" / "My True Love" (Mustang 3018, 1966) 5
  • "It's Love, Come What May" / "It's Love, Come What May" (Mustang 3020 [promo], 1966) 5

Original US albums

  • KRLA King Of The Wheels (Mustang M-900 [mono] / MS-900 [stereo], 1966) 5
  • I Fought The Law (Mustang M-901 [mono] / MS-901 [stereo], 1966) 5

Compilations and reissues

  • The Bobby Fuller Memorial Album (LP, President 1003, 1968) 2
  • KRLA/King Of The Wheels (Line LP 5146, 1981) 5
  • I Fought The Law (Line LP 5133, 1981) 5
  • The Bobby Fuller Memorial Album (LP, Strand 6. 24885 AS, 1982) 5
  • The Best Of The Bobby Fuller Four (LP, Rhino 201, 1982) 5
  • Let Them Dance (The Rare Sides) (LP, Line LP 5272, 1983) 5
  • Live On Stage (Line OLLP 5302, 1983) 5
  • Bobby Fuller Tapes, Vol. 1 (LP, Rhino 057, 1983) 2
  • Bobby Fuller Tapes, Vol. 2 (LP, Voxx LP 200.028, 1984) 2
  • Memories Of Buddy Holly (LP, Rockhouse LP 8407, 1984) 2
  • I Fought The Law (LP, Eva 12032) 5
  • The Best Of The Bobby Fuller Four (CD, Rhino 70174, 1990) 5
  • The Bobby Fuller Four (CD, Ace 956, 1990) 5
  • Live At PJ's Plus! (CD, Ace CDCHD 314, 1991) 2
  • The Best Of The Bobby Fuller Four (CD, Ace 388, 1992) 5
  • El Paso Rock Vol. 1 : Early Recordings (CD, Norton 252, 1996) 2
  • El Paso Rock Vol. 2 : More Early Recordings (CD, Norton 260, 1997) 2
  • Shakedown! : The Texas Tapes Revisited (2CD box set, Del-Fi DFBX 2902, 1996) 2
  • Never To Be Forgotten : The Mustang Years (3CD box set, Mustang/Del-Fi DFBX 3903, 1997) 5
  • The Mustang Years (2LP, Munster 184, 2000) 5
  • I Fought The Law And Others (7" EP, Munster Ref. 7141, 2000) 5

1 Released as by Bobby Fuller / Guitarist Jim Reese And The Embers, Vocal. Issued twice with the same catalog number, but with completely different versions of both tracks.
2 Released as by Bobby Fuller.
3 Released as by Bobby Fuller And The Fanatics.
4 Released as by The Shindigs.
5 Released as by The Bobby Fuller Four


  1. ^ Lehmer, Larry (2004). The Day The Music Died: The Last Tour Of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Richie Valens. Music Sales Group. pp. 212, 213. ISBN 0-825-67287-2. 
  2. ^ Corcoran, Michael Joseph (2005). All Over the Map: True Heroes of Texas Music. University of Texas Press. pp. 147. ISBN 0-292-70976-5. 
  3. ^ Lehmer, Larry (2004). The Day The Music Died: The Last Tour Of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Richie Valens. Music Sales Group. pp. 213. ISBN 0-825-67287-2. 
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. Billboard Books. pp. 246. ISBN 0-823-07499-4. 
  5. ^ Bobby Fuller Murder Mystery|
  6. ^ Patterson, R. Gary (2004). Take a Walk on the Dark Side: Rock and Roll Myths, Legends, and Curses. Simon and Schuster. pp. 30. ISBN 0-743-24423-0. 
  7. ^ Stanton, Scott (2003). The Tombstone Tourist: Musicians. Simon and Schuster. pp. 85. ISBN 0-743-46330-7. 
  8. ^ Lehmer, Larry (2004). The Day The Music Died: The Last Tour Of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Richie Valens. Music Sales Group. pp. 30. ISBN 0-825-67287-2. 
  9. ^ Queenan, Joe (2008-04-11). "A Folden Age of One-hit Wonders". Retrieved 2008-07-26. 
  10. ^ "The Death of Sam Cooke". 

External links


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