The Bobby Fuller Four
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|The Bobby Fuller Four|
|Also known as||The Spiders, Bobby Fuller and the Fanatics, The Shindigs|
|Origin||Texas, United States|
|Genres||Rock & roll|
|Labels||Donna, Eastwood, Exeter, Liberty, Mustang, Todd, Yucca|
The Bobby Fuller Four (sometimes stylized as Bobby Fuller 4) was a popular mid-60s American rock & roll band started by Bobby Fuller. With its first incarnation formed in 1962 in El Paso, Texas, the group went on to produce some of its most memorable hits under Mustang Records in Hollywood, California. The band's most successful songs include "Let Her Dance", "I Fought the Law", and "Love's Made a Fool of You."
Even before Fuller had established a band in his hometown of El Paso, he recorded his first single, "You’re in Love", under Yucca Records in 1961 with assistance of the Embers, a local band that Fuller played in previously. At this point, he started his own band, backed by his brother Randy on bass and Gaylord Grimes on drums in 1962. After "You’re in Love" was a regional hit, Fuller had his next single, "Gently My Love" professionally recorded at Norman Petty Recording Studios. While producing another regional hit, Fuller was displeased with the results.
They disengaged from Yucca, and released their records through Fuller’s own various independent labels; the recordings were done in Fuller’s home recording studio. The group never had a definite name; recordings were either credited to simply Bobby Fuller, or Bobby Fuller and the Fanatics. Various other members (now including a second guitarist in addition to Fuller) played in the band at this time; however, the most significant were Jim Reese (formerly of the Embers) on guitar, and Dalton Powell (who had previously played piano for the Embers) on drums, while Bobby Fuller and Randy Fuller stayed constant on guitar and bass, respectively.
By 1963, the band pursued a record deal with a major label in Hollywood, California. While they were neglected by most labels, Bob Keane of Del-Fi Records showed particular interest in the group. While he saw potential, he didn’t think the band had hit material yet. Fuller and his band returned to El Paso and continued to release regional hits, the most popular being "I Fought the Law," originally by the Crickets. By the end of 1964, Fuller saw branching out to a major label as their only option, thus Bobby Fuller, Randy Fuller, and Jim Reese prepared to move to California to revisit Del-Fi Records. Current drummer Dalton Powell could not make the move due to family commitments, and was replaced by another drummer, DeWayne Quirico, instructed by Fuller himself.
With the group’s new hit records, Keane signed them to Del-Fi this time around. The band's first Del-Fi release, "Those Memories of You" was under the sister label, Donna records (credited to Bobby Fuller and the Fanatics). With the band’s increasing local popularity, Keane created a sister label just for Fuller's band, Mustang Records. The first release on Mustang was "Thunder Reef" in 1965. This time, the band was credited as ‘’The Shindigs’’ to capitalize on the new ABC show, Shindig! Seeking a more permanent name, Keane decided upon The Bobby Fuller Four (as he favored Fuller), which was first used on the band’s next single, "Take My Word." The new name received mixed reactions with the rest of the group, claiming that it put too much emphasis on Fuller, as opposed to the rest of the band, but the name stuck.
While their next release, "Never to be Forgotten" brought a regional hit, the band’s next single, "Let Her Dance" brought the band’s first national hit, barely missing the Billboard Hot 100 at 133, though bringing in a Top 40 hit. At the suggestion of Randy Fuller, the El Paso hit, "I Fought the Law" was re-recorded. It quickly gained national popularity, and by 1966, it rose to its peak position at #9 on the national charts. Meanwhile, the band was starting to experience internal troubles after touring, and drummer DeWayne Quirico abruptly left the group. John Barbata was asked to take his place, while negotiations were underway to get Dalton Powell back in the band.
With Powell reinstated, the group went on to release "Love's Made a Fool of You," another Crickets cover (written by Buddy Holly and Bob Montgomery and recorded by Holly as a demo, reportedly intended for the Everly Brothers, though never recorded by that duo). This went on to become another national hit for the band. The next single was taken from the sessions where Barbata sat in, "The Magic Touch." While being popular locally, it did not match the success of the previous singles. In addition to the already existing internal problems, the band began to fall apart in July after Reese had received a draft notice in the mail (and arranged to sell his Jaguar XKE to Fuller), Powell also planned to announce his plans to leave the band to support his family back home. Fuller was absent for that band meeting and the deal to buy Reese's car. Later that day, Fuller was discovered dead in the front seat of his car in front of his apartment. While foul play was suspected, the case remains unsolved.
After the death of Fuller, the band abruptly disbanded. The group’s final single, "It’s Love, Come What May" was only released in limited quantities as a promotional recording. Months later, Keane arranged the formation of the Randy Fuller Four in an attempt to capitalize on the previous success of the Bobby Fuller Four, complete with Randy Fuller on bass and rhythm guitar, DeWayne Quirico returning on drums, and Mike Ciccarelli and Howard Steele (other former El Paso musicians) on lead guitar and bass, respectively. The group released a few singles (including overdubbing the Bobby Fuller Four’s "It’s Love, Come What May"), but disbanded less than a year later in 1967.
Most former members of the Bobby Fuller Four remained active in the music industry after the group disbanded. Jim Reese died in 1991.
Original US singles
- "Those Memories Of You" / "Our Favorite Martian" (Donna 1403, 1964) 1
- "Wolfman" / "Thunder Reef" (Mustang 3003, 1964/65) 2
- "Take My Word" / "She's My Girl" (Mustang 3004, 1965)
- "Never To Be Forgotten" / "You Kiss Me" (Mustang 3011, 1965)
- "Another Sad And Lonely Night" / "Let Her Dance" (Mustang 3012, 1965)
- "Another Sad And Lonely Night" / "Let Her Dance" (Liberty 55812, 1965)
- "I Fought The Law" / "Little Annie Lou" (Mustang 3014, 1965)
- "Love's Made a Fool of You" / "Don't Ever Let Me Know" (Mustang M 3016, 1966)
- "The Magic Touch" / "My True Love" (Mustang 3018, 1966)
- "It's Love, Come What May" / "It's Love, Come What May" (Mustang 3020 [promo], 1966)
1 Released as by Bobby Fuller And The Fanatics.
2 Released as by The Shindigs.
Original US albums
- KRLA King of the Wheels (Mustang M-900 [mono] / MS-900 [stereo], 1966)
- I Fought The Law (Mustang M-901 [mono] / MS-901 [stereo], 1966)
- Celebrity Night at PJ's (Cancelled—Mustang M-902 [mono] / MS-902 [stereo])
- Never to Be Forgotten: The Mustang Years (1998)