Thinking about the lives lost in the flooding here in Maryland and the balloon crash in Texas, I got to thinking about others who went home too soon. Hank Williams comes to mind, and Buddy Holly as well. What else would they have brought to our music, had their lives not been cut short?
And thinking of Buddy Holly makes me think of Bobby Fuller, another Texan who brought a little Lone Star State to the 60s garage rock sound. (Before record production became so dependent on studio electronic tricks, groups rehearsed and recorded out back in the garage, and that's where that raw sound comes from.) Bobby came out of El Paso and got to Los Angeles and a deal with Del-Fi Records on the strength of his cover of "I Fought The Law (And The Law Won.)"*
Fuller's career in the national spotlight was just taking off in 1966. "I Fought The Law" was a top-10 record after its release in February, and the follow up "Love's Made A Fool Of You"** came out in May.
But on July 18, 1966, Bobby was found dead in his car outside his apartment in Los Angeles. There was an 1/3-full gasoline can and a gas-soaked rag in the car, and his death was attributed to hemorrhaging caused by the gas vapors and the July heat, and by the inhalation of the vapors. The police report has checks next to "accidental" and "suicide," but also question marks written next to both.
The investigation is thought by many to have been sloppy and rushed, possibly because the chief of the LAPD, William Parker, had died suddenly two days before and the department was focused on his funeral arrangements and replacing him.
Cause-of-death theories floated included possible Manson Family involvement, suicide (Fuller was said to be concerned about the direction of his career) and a mob hit.
We may never know who killed Bobby Fuller, and we certainly can only speculate about what sort of music he might have made, but listen to those two hits of his! Spectacular pop, basic rock, the sound that bands still want. Bobby had it and we can listen to what he recorded as we wonder what else he might have recorded.
*This gets complicated. Buddy Holly, in his time, released records as "Buddy Holly" and as "The Crickets," although they were the same people. After Buddy died in that plane crash in 1959, Sonny Curtis joined The Crickets as songwriter and guitarist (but not singer) in Buddy's place, and Sonny wrote "IFTL(ATLW)".
**Buddy Holly and writing partner Bob Montgomery wrote this in 1954. It's thought of as a "Buddy Holly song," but Buddy did not sing on The Crickets' version, which came out after the crash.