There is probably more than a touch of irony in the story of Bobby Fuller, the early rocker who is now mostly remembered for “I Fought The Law (And The Law Won).” After all, the circumstances surrounding the rising young star’s death in 1966 have always been the subject of speculation, and there are many who still suspect a cover-up by the authorities.
Bobby Fuller was yet another Texas-born musician, following in the footsteps of Buddy Holly and other Lone Star entertainers. In fact, the El Paso native was strongly influenced by the legacy of Holly as he began his own climb to fame in the early 1960s. A strong guitarist who could make his Stratocaster soar, Fuller performed as part of the Bobby Fuller Four, a group that changed from time to time but always included his younger brother Randy.
Success with early records was followed by a transplant to Hollywood in 1964, and it was there that the Bobby Fuller Four really found a groove. While still embracing the rockabilly sound of Holly and others, Fuller also added surf music in the style of the Beach Boys and Dick Dale. (You can hear his fiery take on Dale’s “Miserlou” below.) At one point, he even generated songs reminiscent of the British Invasion.
Fuller spun out a number of hits, including “Let Her Dance,” “Fool of Love,” “My True Love,” and “The Magic Touch,” and wrote many of his best songs, but his biggest hit was actually written by a former bandmate of Buddy Holly’s. And oddly enough, Sonny Curtis‘ “I Fought The Law” was not only Fuller’s top seller, but also seemed to point toward his fate.
In the Summer of 1966, Bobby Fuller — just 23 at the time — had everything going his way. That all ended when he was found dead in his car, parked in front of his Hollywood apartment. It’s said that his body had multiple wounds and also had gasoline spilled on it, but the situation was handled as an apparent suicide/accident by investigators. The coroner would later rule it as “accidental asphyxiation” while citing no evidence of foul play, but many still question the sad ending to the Bobby Fuller story. (More info in the video below.)