Friday, July 18, 2008

The Mysterious Death of Bobby Fuller

July 18th marks the anniversary of the death of rock 'n' roller Bobby Fuller, who died under mysterious circumstances in 1966 at the age of 22. As the lead singer of The Bobby Fuller Four, he hit the Billboard charts twice in 1966. The group's first hit is one that remains a staple of oldies radio to this day, the top 10 classic "I Fought the Law". Their follow-up hit was the equally rocking "Love's Made A Fool of You" (which peaked at #26 during the spring of '66).

Bobby Fuller's brief career ended when he was found dead in a parked car near his L.A. home. At the time, police considered the death an apparent suicide. Although police later changed the cause of death to "Accident", many people (including me) believe Fuller was murdered. From the beginning, the investigation was mishandled. The crime scene was not secured and no fingerprints were obtained. A witness also had claimed seeing a police officer throw a can of gasoline found at the scene into the trash (Fuller was found with multiple wounds all over his body and covered in gasoline). This lead many to speculate that the perpetrators fled the scene before they could set the car on fire. According to an episode I saw in the 1990s of the series "E! Mysteries and Scandals", Fuller's death may have been tied to the local crime syndicate. In the weeks leading up to his death, it was reported that Fuller had been dating a young lady whose former boyfriend had mob ties.

Unfortunately, police have lost all the files on record about Fuller's death. Unless new evidence turns up, the death of Bobby Fuller will remain one of rock's infamous unsolved mysteries. If you'd like to read about some of the other theories as to what may have happened to Bobby Fuller, click here.

Below is a clip of the Bobby Fuller Four performing Love's Made A Fool of You on the NBC series Hullabaloo.


Jessica said...

Interesting...never knew that. Isn't it convenient that the police lost all the files about his death. :/

pjazzypar said...

I was too young to care when this happened; however I do remember seeing this story featured on E!'s show "Mysteries and Scandals" as an adult. It was assumed to be a suicide by law enforcement, but the details did not quite add up from my recollection.

Pop Art Diva! said...

I remember when it happened. I was pretty young, 15, but I remember my friend's brother saying "man, he was fragged!" - frag being a term used in Viet Nam for taking out a superior officer.
He obviously misused the term but I definitely got the idea he thought Fuller had been murdered.
Funny how files go missing, huh?

X. Dell said...

Not to (excuse the expression) beat a dead horse, but Erik Greene hypothesized a connection between Fuller's death and Sam Cooke's. There was also a rumored insurance policy of a million dollars, and a huge debt to loan sharks by Bob Keane, the owner of his label, Del-Fi.

I don't know if you ever saw this, but there was a famous Rolling Stone article written sometime during the late-1970s about the weirdness of rock and roll deaths, and ranked the top 100 (up to that time) based on such factors as randomness, bizareness, degree of violence, irony, etc. I can't remember the date of the article, but I'm sure Fuller ranked pretty high on it.

pjazzypar said...

After X. Dell mentioned the connection between his favorite conspiracy (Sam Cooke)and Fuller I went to this website:
where I found that Keane has written about his life with various singers, including Valens, Cooke, and even Barry White. Fascinating.

Bridget Jones said...

This always bothered me. Couldn't understand how it could have been suicide. Glad that others are stirring the pot. Man he went young.

Malcolm said...

Jessica: Convenient indeed. I doubt if we will ever find out what really happened to Bobby Fuller.

Pjazzy: I miss "E!'s Mysteries and Scandals". When I check the digital cable guide to find out what E! is showing, it mostly seems like specials that are list related (100 Best, 100 Most, etc.) I'll have to check out that Bob Keane book that you mentioned.

Pop Art Diva: I never heard the term "frag" until now. Your friend's brother sounds like he was very insightful. I think a lot of people probably assumed that Bobby Fuller committed suicide.

X. Dell: I never saw the RS article you mentioned. I did a quick Google search, but couldn't find anything. I'd think that Bobby Fuller's death would have been high on the list too.

Bridget: Back when this happened, I wouldn't be surprised if it was a back page story in some newspapers. Even though there are a bunch of theories as to what really happened to Bobby, I haven't heard any that are way out there.

Mark Speck said...

I remember reading something that a gun was found next to his body, another account said that he was hung with his seat belt (which I find a little hard to believe), and yet another account said that he died when his car hit a tree! I guess we'll never know just what happened.

Malcolm said...

Mark: Thanks for visiting! I've never heard any of those theories about Fuller's death. The speculations don't surprise me because like you said, we'll never know what happened.

Anonymous said...

question ??? don't it seem strange to commit sucide being so close to his mother house

Malcolm Bondon said...

Anon: Yes, it does seem strange. I'm not buying the suicide angle.

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