It's Saturday night on the Lower East Side
I'm sittin' here contemplatin' suicide

It was sometime during the hot late afternoon hours of Monday, July 18th, 1966, that Bobby Fuller's body was found, lying across the front seat of his mother's Oldsmobile, which was parked in the large lot beside the apartment he shared with his mother and younger brother, bassist Randy Fuller. Forty years later, the facts still don't add up to suicide.

I just got mugged down in Tompkins Square
When a skinny-assed junkie stuck a bayonet in my ear

An eyewitness to the gruesome discovery remembers that Fuller had traces of dried blood around his chin and mouth, and that his face and chest were bruised as if he had been beaten.

I can't believe you've gone and left me for a dentist
Whatever happened to my existentialist

At the time of his death, Fuller had been keeping company with a young woman named "Melanie," whose ex-boyfriend was a jealous club owner reported to be tied to the local crime syndicate. After Fuller's death, she disappeared and has not been heard from since.4

If I can't find out I never will recover
I gotta know who killed Bobby Fuller?

According to the official Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office autopsy report, "Deceased was found lying face down in front seat of car--a gas can, 1/3 full, cover open--windows were all rolled up & doors shut, not locked--keys not in ignition". The report also noted excessive bruising on his chest and shoulders, and attributed the cause of death to asphyxiation "due to inhalation of gasoline". Bobby had been drenched with the gasoline, and he was in a state of rigor mortis. His body appeared battered, and his right finger was broken, as if it had been bent back. The police attributed his death to suicide, with the report stating that there was "no evidence of foul play." 2

I know that you think that I'm out of my head
'Cause I haven't been givin' you the love that I should

There were rumors of Bobby having gone to an LSD party and having died in a fall, with people at the party trying to make it look like a suicide.1

I just sit here playin' his old 45's
Wishing to hell that Bobby was alive

It was the existence of a 45 of the Bobby Fuller version of I Fought the Law in a studio jukebox that inspired The Clash to record a cover version of the song in 1978. Their version first appeared on the EP The Cost Of Living in May 1979 in England, and then later in 1979 was made part of the American edition of the Clash's eponymous album. This cover version helped gain The Clash their first taste of airplay in the States and is probably the most well-known cover version of the song, not counting Fuller's. 3

He's still out there singin' "I fought the law"
But no one is sayin' exactly what they saw

"I Fought The Law" is a much-covered song originally recorded by Sonny Curtis of The Crickets. The song is more identified in the eyes (and ears) of many music fans with the Bobby Fuller Four, who recorded a more successful version of the song in 1965. "I Fought The Law" has been covered by the punk rock group The Clash in 1978, as well as the Dead Kennedys, who rewrote the lyrics to comment on the murder of gay San Francisco politician Harvey Milk. The song has also been covered, either in concert or on record, by Bryan Adams, Green Day, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Hank Williams Jr, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, The Grateful Dead, Stray Cats and numerous other artists, and used as a promotional song for the iTunes music store's free songs giveaway. 3

If I can't find out I never will recover
I gotta know who killed Bobby Fuller?

Randy Fuller: "Put it this way, when you're a kid back in the 50's and you're seeing Elvis Presley…and all the girls screamin', you're sayin' that's what I want to do! And all the crap comes down at school and you end up with a bass guitar, playin' alongside your brother, and your whole dream is to get out of this hick town and go to California…and we get out here and this big English thing is happenin' and it seems like we'll never be able to do nothin'. We're playin' P.J.'s, but it's just workin' gigs like we did in El Paso. Then Bob Keane gets this new partner, who comes into the picture and tells us, "Tomorrow starting at such and such a time, they're gonna be playing 'Let Her Dance'…every hour on the hour. And we're drivin' down the freeway and that song comes on and man, it's like when I was ridin' down the street and heard Elvis Presley when I was seven years old and I wanted to be that. That's what it was like. The adrenaline flowed and the goosebumps popped up and man, it's just the greatest feelin' in the world…We're on our way. We're gonna be millionaires. We're doin' what we really wanna do. And then it's gone (snaps fingers) just like that." 2

And now you've gone and found another significant other
I hope your teeth fall out whenever he kisses you

Four days after Bobby's death, three armed men showed up at the apartment Bobby Fuller Four guitarist Jim Reese shared with drummer Dalton Powell, two doors down from the building housing the Fuller apartment. Reese said "When I got home about midnight…Dalton was standing there with a gun in his hand. He told me about the three men who came by looking for me. We had already decided to go back to El Paso the next day…the only difference was that I had a loaded pistol in my seat all the way back." Reese suspected it had something to do with an insurance policy taken out on his life: "I had that insurance policy canceled because I was worth a lot more dead to certain people, and I was taking no chances." Randy recalls that there was a life insurance policy on Bobby for between $800,000 and $1 million, payable to a shady investor in Del-Fi records who was rumored to have underworld connections. 2

And you'll come crawlin' back when you discover
that I found out who killed Bobby Fuller!


I know it's an obsession but what can I do
Oh darlin', I'm still so in love with you

Bobby Fuller's music still survives with the new re-issues of his two Mustang albums, and the Box Set Retrospective. While the tragic death of one America's true Rock & Roll legends still makes headlines across the country and the world, and the enigma surrounding his life still attracts new generations of fans to the great Rock & Roll he performed, the question still lingers...4

There's a señorita down in El Paso
And I know that she's got some of the answers

Born in Baytown, Texas, Fuller spent most of his youth in El Paso, Texas, where he idolized Buddy Holly, a fellow West Texan. He played clubs, bars, and recorded on independent record labels in Texas, with a constantly-changing line-up, during the early 1960s.

She's older now and she's ready to speak
So tell your dentist to cap someone else's teeth

When the TV show Unsolved Mysteries did a broadcast on Bobby’s murder, a woman who claimed to be at the acid party that Bobby was purported to have attended that evening called in after the show. She either said that Bobby wasn’t there, or he was fine at the party. 1

If we can't be friends we can at least be lovers
I gotta know who killed Bobby Fuller?

After being ruled a suicide with "no evidence of foul play", the case was closed by the LAPD and remains sealed under California Law. As of now, 40 years later, the mystery remains unsolved. 1

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Lyrics in italics Written by: Larry Kirwan
Song in italics Performed by: Black 47
Album: Home of the Brave
Reprinted with permission of author
© Starry Plough Music (BMI)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 29 Mar 2003 02:52:50 EST
Subject: Re: Lyric posting permission

No problem, Dan, that's totally cool to print the lyrics 
of any Black 47 song for information purposes.  Thanks 
for thinking of us.  Let me know the link.

all the best,

larry kirwan
black 47

CST Approved

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