Yesterday, in between the shooting pains in my hip, I spent half an hour or so mulling over my current top ten records of all time. Whilst I realise that the final selections will change from time to time – day to day – one of yesterday’s choices was a live version of I Fought the Law by The Clash.
Back in the mid-80s, I saw the band performed an impromptu acoustic set in York city centre – and this was one of the songs they played. I hadn’t given it any thought before, but I just sort of assumed this was another in a long line of classic Strummer/Jones compositions... I was wrong.
Full marks if you know that it was Sonny Curtis of The Crickets who penned the song, which was duly recorded in 1959 (with Curtis on guitar, following the untimely passing of Buddy Holly). For those of you who love your trivia, Sonny Curtis also wrote the theme tune to the MaryTyler Moore Show....
Several years later, I Fought the Law proved to be the breakthrough track for the American rock ‘n’ rollers the Bobby Fuller Four (pictured). I’ve listened to The Crickets’ original and seen a video of the Bobby Fuller Four in action, both are excellent versions, but there was something about Bobby Fuller’s sound that made me want to hear a few more songs – which I duly did, and I’m only disappointed I hadn’t found out about this band before now.
The Beatles were dominating popular music on both sides of the Atlantic during the mid-60s, but whilst Bobby Fuller seems to have been influenced by the music of the late-50s, he still created (or at least he had last night) a sound that arguably deserved a wider audience. Unfortunately, the Bobby Fuller Four story ended almost as soon as it had begun, when the twenty-three year-old Fuller was found dead in his car on 18th July 1966.
He was lying face down in the front seat of the car with the windows and doors shut and no keys in the ignition. Nearby was a half-full, open petrol can and Fuller’s body was soaked in petrol, as well as his arms and shoulders being covered in bruises.
Initially ruled as suicide, the verdict on Fuller’s untimely demise was later changed to accidental asphyxiation, but there is another theory that suggests Fuller was murdered and those who had committed the crime fled the scene, after being spotted as they were about to dispose of the body.
Nearly fifty years on, the exact cause of Bobby Fuller’s death is not known for certain, but in one house in a small corner of north east England, this young man’s music now lives on.
Robert Gaston Fuller 22/10/1942-18/07/1966