Michael Buckner, Getty Images They're over a month early, but Chely Wright's twins…
- Posted on Jun 29th 2007 5:00PM by Gaylord Fields
In 1964, after recording for several tiny Southwestern labels, Fuller relocated from El Paso to L.A., where he was signed to local label Mustang Records by Bob Keane (formerly Keene, and before that Kuhn), who had released a No. 1 hit single by Sam Cooke and a No. 2 Ritchie Valens smash. In the following two years, Fuller would reach the Top 40 three times, including a No. 4 placing for the classic jangly ode to gleeful criminality, 'I Fought the Law,' in 1965.
Once the psychedelic sounds of 1966 began wafting in, Fuller's style of music was looked at by some as passé. To stay relevant, he even recorded a soul-style single with the young Barry White called 'The Magic Touch,' reportedly with some reluctance. But the mysterious and grisly events of July 18th of that year would insure his place among his heroes -- but perhaps not quite in the way he intended.
On that morning, Fuller's bruised, lifeless body was discovered in his Oldsmobile, parked outside his apartment building. His clothing reeked of gasoline, and a fair amount of the toxic fluid was found inside him. The Los Angeles County coroner's report declared the 23-year-old's death a suicide, finding no evidence of foul play, despite the odd circumstances (bruising, gasoline ingestion, a reported broken finger). This report, coupled with a quick dismissal of his death after a brief police investigation, have led many friends and supporters to suspect murder and a subsequent cover-up. (Some rumors claim Fuller's death was retaliation from a mobster for the musician's romantic involvement with the thug's girlfriend, though no definitive motive or conclusion has been reached.)
Sadly, Fuller's musical boast about the law winning the battle against him was a bit off: If the rumors following his death are true, the law he sang about fighting didn't win so much as didn't care.