60s Music

The Bobby Fuller Four – “I Fought the Law”

The Bobby Fuller FourWho are the Bobby Fuller Four?

The Bobby Fuller Four were a 1960s rock and roll band originating in El Paso, Texas. They were known for their classic hit cover of the Crickets’ “I Fought the Law.” They were fronted by Bobby Fuller, born Robert Gaston Fuller in 1942. He was a big fan of the late Buddy Holly, whom Fuller of course regarded as his greatest influence. Not coincidentally, Holly was also from Texas. The Bobby Fuller Four finally had a Top 10 hit in 1966 with “I Fought the Law,” their cover of the Crickets (post-Buddy Holly). At the height of the band’s success, Fuller died suddenly in the summer of 1966, aged only 23.

Bobby Fuller’s own singing career

The Bobby Fuller Four were a 1960s rock and roll band founded and led by vocalist/guitarist Bobby Fuller, born Robert Gaston Fuller in El Paso, Texas on October 22, 1942

The band’s sound was sheer reminiscent of the work of Buddy Holly and The Crickets – Holly was a fellow Texan and whom Fuller idolized. Fuller also started his recording career in his birthplace, El Paso. He released his first singles (on Yucca Records) in the early 1960s – “You’re In Love” and “Gently My Love,” both of which became regional hits.

The formation of the Bobby Fuller Four, and their regional popularity

When Fuller left Yucca he started to record in his own home studio along with his group, which consisted of his brother Randy on bass, Jim Reese on guitar, and Dalton Powell on drums (he was to be later replaced by DeWayne Quirico). After releasing a few singles in El Paso, Bobby Fuller and his group (with no name yet) moved to Califormia in 1963, looking for a major label to sign them up.

After much difficulty in doing so, Fuller and his combo moved back to El Paso and recorded another some regional hits, including their cover of The Crickets’ “I Fought The Law.” When they moved to California again in 1964, they were signed to Del-Fi Records, which previously showed interest to the band when they first visited there, but couldn’t think of a possible hit song for them yet at that time.

 

 

Ascent to national fame with “I Fought the Law”

The label’s owner Bob Keane created Del-Fi’s sister label Mustang Records just for Fuller’s band. With the band’s increasing popularity, they were first named as “The Shindigs” (to cash in on the new musical variety show called Shindig!), but Keane finally christened Fuller’s group as The Bobby Fuller Four. After some regional hits, they finally had a national hit with “Let Her Dance” in 1965, breaking into the Billboard’s “Bubbling Under Hot 100” chart at #133.

They re-recorded “I Fought The Law,” which was written by the Crickets’ Sonny Curtis. The song became a big hit, at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1966. Thus it brought the Bobby Fuller Four to success and fame, and also made Fuller a new star. Previous drummer Powell returned to the group, and the Bobby Fuller Four scored a Top 40 hit with “Love’s Made A Fool Of You” which was another Crickets cover. “Love’s Made a Fool of You” reached the Top 40.

 

Bobby Fuller’s unexpected death, and the band’s legacy to rock music

Fuller sounded as if Buddy Holly were still alive had he lived into the 1960s. At the height of Fuller’s new-found stardom, he suddenly died under mysterious circumstances on July 18, 1966; he was only 23 years old. His body was found inside a car parked outside his Hollywood home. Although the results of the investigation ruled out suicide, questions still surround Fuller’s unexpected death. Some even suspected that Fuller was murdered. After this tragedy, brother Randy took over the helm and re-named the band as Randy Fuller Four, but the group disbanded a year later. An unreleased material recorded by Bobby Fuller was released in the 1980s.

The Bobby Fuller Four’s cover of “I Fought the Law” is included in the music magazine Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs list, ranking at #175. It was also cited by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the “Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.”

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