Bobby Fuller

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For other people named Robert Fuller, see Robert Fuller (disambiguation).
Bobby Fuller
Background information
Birth name Robert Gaston Fuller
Born (1942-10-22)October 22, 1942
Baytown, Texas, US
Origin El Paso, Texas, US
Died July 18, 1966(1966-07-18) (aged 23)
Los Angeles, California, US
Genres Rock, Pop
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, musician
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano, drums
Years active 1958 - 1966
Labels Liberty, Yucca Records, Mustang Records
Associated acts The Bobby Fuller Four, Randy Fuller, The Shindigs

Robert Gaston "Bobby" Fuller (October 22, 1942 – July 18, 1966) was an American rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist 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.

Early life[edit]

Born in Baytown, Texas, 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.[1] His father got a job at El Paso Natural Gas at that time.[1] It was the same year that Elvis Presley became popular, and Bobby Fuller, then 12 going on 13, became mesmerized by the new rock and roll sound. He idolized fellow West Texan Buddy Holly (a native of Lubbock), and pursued his own music career as a vocalist and guitarist.[2]


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.[3] 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.

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, though not on the Hot 100, was the self-penned "Let Her Dance".[4] His second hit, "I Fought the Law", peaked at #9 on the Hot 100 on 12–19 March 1966. The song was written by Sonny Curtis, who became a member of Buddy Holly's former group The Crickets after Holly's death.[5] "I Fought The Law" was recorded by the line-up of the Fuller brothers, James Reese on guitar, and DeWayne Quirico on drums. The group's third Top 40 single was a cover of Holly's "Love's Made a Fool of You."[6]

The Bobby Fuller Four appeared in the 1966 movie The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, apparently backing up Nancy Sinatra on the song "Geronimo" and continuing to play during a pool-party scene.


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:[7] "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 ticked, but next to the boxes were question marks. Despite the official cause of death, some commentators believe Fuller was murdered.[8][9]

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 may have had something to do with Fuller's death but never provided credible evidence. A sensationalist crime website has speculated that the LAPD may have been involved because of Bobby's connection to a Mafia-related woman. [10]

Fuller is buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.[11]

Fuller's death was profiled in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries

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, then 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[edit]

  • "I Fought The Law" was background music in Dale's van in the Fox animated series King Of The Hill.
  • 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 eponymous 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 in the song "Dirt" from Lou Reed's album Street Hassle.
  • Fuller is mentioned in "Li'l 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'..."
  • John Mellencamp refers to Bobby Fuller in "R-O-C-K In the USA", on Mellencamp's Scarecrow album.
  • An indie tribute CD compilation entitled A TRIBUTE TO THE BOBBY FULLER FOUR was issued in 1993 by Eugene Oregon based Blue Rose records. It featured bands from all over the U.S.A. (some with a BFF connection) as well as Canada and the U.K.
  • 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, Fortune & Maltese, Bill Lloyd, Walter Clevenger, and Smithereens side project Buzzed Meg.
  • UK band The Clash covered "I Fought The Law" with great success and worldwide exposure. It became an important part of the band's repertoire and catalogue.
  • The song "A New Shade of Blue" plays in the background at the barroom meeting of Teena (Brandon) and Candice in the movie "Boys Don't Cry."
  • In Wes Anderson's animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox, "Let Her Dance" is used in the final sequence.
  • "Let Her Dance" is used as the theme tune to Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights
  • Battlefield Vietnam uses Fullers "I Fought The Law" in-game and on a select loading screen.
  • Indie rock band, Metric,refer to Bobby Fuller in their song, "Monster Hospital". "Monster movie, Daddy Warbucks up against Bobby Fuller and he beat him hands down. They put a little lead in, in his head."
  • Phil Seymour included a version of Let Her Dance on his debut album in 1981 which is now available on Fuel Records.
  • In the 2012 game Sleeping Dogs, it is possible to perform "I Fought the Law" in the karaoke minigame.


Studio albums[edit]

  • KRLA King Of The Wheels (Mustang M-900 [mono] / MS-900 [stereo], 1965) 5
  • I Fought The Law (Mustang M-901 [mono] / MS-901 [stereo], 1966) 5

Live album[edit]

  • Celebrity Night at PJ's (Cancelled—Mustang M-902 [mono] / MS-902 [stereo]) 5

Original US singles[edit]

  • "You're In love" / "Guess We'll Fall In Love" (Yucca 45-140, 1961) 1
  • "Gently My Love" / "My Heart Jumped" (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

Compilations and reissues[edit]

  • 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 (2-CD box set, Del-Fi DFBX 2902, 1996) 2
  • Never To Be Forgotten : The Mustang Years (3-CD 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. ^ a b Poore, Billy. Rockabilly: A Forty-Year Journey. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Corporation, 1998: 146. ISBN 0-7935-9142-2.
  2. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "AllMusic Biography: Bobby Fuller Four". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 October 20111.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  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. 212, 213. ISBN 0-8256-7287-2. 
  4. ^ Corcoran, Michael Joseph (2005). All Over the Map: True Heroes of Texas Music. University of Texas Press. p. 147. ISBN 0-292-70976-5. 
  5. ^ Lehmer, Larry (2004). The Day The Music Died: The Last Tour Of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Richie Valens. Music Sales Group. p. 213. ISBN 0-8256-7287-2. 
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. Billboard Books. p. 246. ISBN 0-8230-7499-4. 
  7. ^ Spin, Apr 1991, p42,
  8. ^ Take a Walk on the Dark Side: Rock and Roll Myths, Legends, and Curses By R. Gary Patterson, p30,
  9. ^ Queenan, Joe (2008-04-11). "A Golden Age of One-hit Wonders". Retrieved 2008-07-26. 
  10. ^ "The Death of Sam Cooke". 
  11. ^ Stanton, Scott (2003). The Tombstone Tourist: Musicians. Simon and Schuster. pp. 85. ISBN 0-7434-6330-7,

External links[edit]