Bobby Fuller 1996 article
8-B \! \\ FRIDAY, JULY 19, 1996 GALVESTON COUNTY, TEXAS Music legend remembered Fans remember El Paso rock 'n' roller Bobby Fuller on anniversary of his death The Associated Press EL PASO — It's been 30 years since Bobby Fuller, El Paso's only rock 'n' roll legend, died in a car on a Hollywood street. Despite the passage of time, his fans and friends still wrestle with the mystery of his death — and wonder what might have been. Puller and his band, the Bobby Fuller Four, had several minor hits and one smash — "I Fought the Law," which has since become a rock anthem. But his 23-year-old life was tragically cut short on July 18,1966. "Bobby was exceptionally gifted, he was a real talent," said George Reynoso, owner of All That Music in El Paso and a collector of Fuller's albums and memorabilia. "This fellow would've been a great in the industry." Fuller was remembered Thursday at Jack's Sugar Shack, a hip Hollywood hangout. Among those looking back on bis career were were disc jockey Kasey Kasem and musicians Johnny Legend and Doug Fieger, and Fuller's brother Randy, 52, who was bass player in the Bobby Fuller Four. The band's music caught the attention of Beatie George Harrison. In fact, more than once Fuller's talent and popularity was compared to the Beatles. Hence this headline above a 1964 El Paso Times story on Fuller: "England has Beatles but El Paso has Bobby." The write-up predicted: "If young Fuller's popularity continues to grow, El Paso may have another Elvis Presley on its hands." Fuller's musical career started in the garage of his family's home at 9509 Album in East El Paso. He graduated from Ysleta High School in 1960 but also briefly attended Surges in 1958. Fuller eventually built his own small recording studio in the garage and later opened a teen center on Dyer Street, This is a 1965 file photo of Singer Bobby Fuller, lower right, and his group taken in Hollywood, Cafif. Thirty years after his death questions remain about how he died— .and of what could have been. (AP) where his band played. His local stardom peaked in El Paso in 1964. Outgrowing the local music scene, he headed to Los Angeles. "It was just great music," said El Pasoan Bob Flamm, 50, who saw Fuller perform in El Paso and in Los Angeles. After three decades, Fuller's death is still the subject of speculation. The NBC program "Unsolved Mysteries" is 6 I'll always wonder what really happened to my brother. There's not too many days that go by that I don't think about him. Your heart's always wanting to resolve it but you can't because you just don't know.» Randy Fuller. planning to feature Fuller's death on one of its September installments. Most of the people closest to Fuller don't accept the official autopsy report from the Los Angeles medical examiner's office. Apparently, the coroner was leaning toward calling it suicide but then declared it accidental asphyxiation while sniffing gasoline. But skeptics say that blood on Fuller's shirt and abrasions on his body point to a more sinister end for the budding pop star. "Oh, I know somebody killed him, there's no doubt in my mind," said Upper Valley resident Dalton Powell, 54, the drummer in the Bobby Fuller Four at the time Fuller died. "I saw his body. His clothes were messed up and there was blood, on him and on the seat." El Pasoan Rod Crosby, Fuller's contemporary and rival musician who declined an offer from Fuller to join the band in 1965, agreed. "Yes, Bobby's death is a mystery," Crosby, said. "I think most people who knew him believe he was killed. The biggest question remaining is why? If he was really a horrible person and lived outside of the law it would be expected. But he wasn't. He wasn't even a superstar yet." Fuller had made no secret of his plans to leave the band and go solo. In fact, Powell said the band, comprised of himself, Fuller's brother Randy and the late guitarist Jim Reese, knew the upcoming tour was to be the last. Fuller's record company had about a $1 million life insurance policy on Fuller — a considerable sum in those days. ' *We worked off and on for some real ugly people," Powell said. "I think there were probably some people behind the scenes that just considered us an investment. Maybe they saw it as their $1 million investment about to fly out the window and they wanted to make sure they got something out of it." Randy Fuller said he doesn't believe his brother committed .suicide or was trying to sniff gasoline. He was reluctant to rehash details surrounding the death but didn't deny he suspected murder. "I've learned to accept the mystery," Fuller said. Til always wonder what really happened to my brother. There's not too many days that go by that I don't think about him. Your heart's always wanting to'resolve it but you can't because you just dont know." Powell still recalls details on the fateful day Fuller died. Fuller's mother, Loraine, was visiting him in Hollywood at the time. Powell said he and guitarist Reese were on their way to Fuller's apartment when they saw Loraine Fuller coming down the sidewalk outside of the apartment. "She was frantic and talking real fast — we knew something was seriously wrong," Powell recalled. He went to Fuller's car, looked in and saw him lying on the seat in a strange position. A gas can was on the floor board. "He could've gotten any kind of drug he wanted in those days. He wouldn't have to resort to sniffing gas for a high," Powell said. "Besides he really didn't use drugs, he got high on his music."