Christopher Dorner Fought the Law and the Law Won.
Probably the biggest news event in many years was the manhunt for Christopher Dorner, which later served as his demise for his horrific crimes. I spent the whole day glued to my T.V. to watch the events unfold in the mountain community of Big Bear. It would make for terrific Hollywood television!
While watching, the song from The Bobby Four, “I Fought the Law” kept on resonating in my head. Lyrically the track had little relevance but the title unquestionably meant something.
The Clash’s Version of I Fought the Law
The track was written and recorded by Sonny Curtis, who was one of the original Crickets that supported Buddy Holly, wrote the song in 1959. I also must add that the album by Bobby Fuller Four was one on the first albums I ever purchased at a young age. The last thing I want to write about is a song that’s older than dust yet I played it over and over again.
As I’m glued to the television watching a literal army chasing down Dorner, Bobby Fuller’s biggest hit just wouldn’t leave my mind. As I checked out the bio of Bobby Fuller I learned that this burgeoning rock star had an early death at a young age of 23. Just six months after the song made its first appearance on the Billboard Top 100 chart and peaked at #6. The Bobby Fuller Four made many appearances on many local L.A. television music shows. I must confess I’m a real sucker for Go Go dancers. The Bobby Fuller Four even did the music for a “B” movie , “Ghost in the Invisible Bikini” which starred Nancy Sinatra and Boris Karloff.
The Quartet were setting attendance records throughout all the clubs in Hollywood and their relationships with local radio stations were unrivaled.
Fuller was found dead from asphyxiation from gasoline in his mother’s car in the parking lot of his Hollywood apartment in July of 1966. The Los Angeles Police Department declared the death an apparent suicide, but others believed he had been murdered. The rumors were bountiful about the actual occurrence and the stories ranged from his murder committed by the mob to attending a party in Malibu where he had ingested LSD and had slipped and was knocked unconscious. Del-Fi Records unequivocally had associations with the underworld and it was said that they financed the promotional efforts in the form of payola with radio D.J’s. I never knew that that stuff really happened?
One fact is true and that is the Hollywood Division of the LAPD did a shabby job in its investigation. The evidence had been tampered, the apparent gas can had been removed from Fuller’s car and discarded; examinations of Fuller’s body were inconclusive. About two months after Fuller’s death the L.A.P.D. changed the cause of death to an accident and no traces of drugs were found in his body.
To make matters even more inconclusive there was definite evidence of Fuller’s body being physically abused and that there was blood oozing from his mouth, definite marks upon his chest and a broken finger. All the evidence was hidden in the police report and once Fuller was buried in L.A. there was a California law that made it impossible to exhume the body for a more thorough autopsy. There was definitely no gasoline consumed orally by Fuller and that the gas can that was in his car had been tampered with. His career had the potential of skyrocketing and this bizarre death just didn’t make any sense.
Prognosticators speculated that the Mob was definitely involved because his record company had created a handsome insurance policy on their star and that he’d be worth more dead than alive. By the way Fuller’s company was the same one that had Ritchie Valens under contract and when he died sales went berserk. Another interesting scenario said that Fuller was involved with a woman who whose boyfriend was insanely jealous when he learned of their sexual encounters. Another story was that Def-Fi records spent so much money promoting Fuller and that he was considering leaving the label for major representation that the mob had to intercede. Rumors were bountiful of Fuller’s death.
As I said earlier the story just doesn’t sound “Kosher”!
Mike Ness Performing “I Fought The Law”
I fought the law became a template for many songs released by other artists. John Mellencamp’s hit, “Authority Song” which went Top 20 on Billboard, was a complete rip-off of the song. Mellencamp did concede that his hit was solely inspired by Bobby Fuller as far as attitude. The video taking place in a boxing ring was a perfect metaphor for the song.
Interestingly I was invited to the video shoot and Mellencamp asked me to be in the video. With the viral play it received on MTV and it’s prominence for garnering an award nomination I became the brunt of many jokes by my peers and Mellencamp himself. I must’ve seen myself a million times and it always made me feel uncomfortable. It was my 10 seconds of fame!