Gary James' Interview With DeWayne Quirico Of
The Bobby Fuller Four
Fifty years ago, (July 18th, 1966) singer Bobby Fuller was found dead in his mother's car outside his apartment in Los Angeles. Initially his death was ruled a suicide, but rumors persist that Bobby Fuller was murdered. "Why?" has never been fully explained. De Wayne Quirico played drums in The Bobby Fuller Four. We talked to him about his time in the band, and Miriam Linna's and Randall Fuller's new book, I Fought The Law.
Q - When you tell people that you played drums in The Bobby Fuller Four, what kind of reaction do you get?
A - They're overwhelmed. They think they're right next to a Rock star, which I am.
Q - Bobby Fuller is a legendary group. People have never stopped playing the music.
A - It's playing somewhere. We were inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame. To be inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame your record had to have affected the world, not just the United States. We went in with a real bunch of big names, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, Sly And The Family Stone, Hank Williams, Harry Belafonte, The Sex Pistols, Neil Young. There was twenty-seven people inducted in 2015 and we were one of 'em.
Q - Were you there for the ceremony?
A - There was no ceremony. They just call you and told you and then they sent me a letter signed from the President of the Grammys. I have a big poster that says as of 2015 The Bobby Fuller Four has been inducted into the Grammy Fall Of Fame. It's real beautiful. It's got a big ol' Grammy on top of it, Golden Grammy.
Q - You were playing P.J.'s...
A - I played everything at P.J.'s. Dalton did not play on anything at P.J.'s even though his picture is on the album cover. But that's a Bob Keane deal. Bob Keane wanted to sell records and he'd do anything to sell records. He lied. He'd cheat. He owes me probably about $15,000, but it's kind of hard to dig him up and get it. I played at P.J.'s from day one.
Q - You were playing at P.J.'s when The Bobby Fuller Four was just exploding and all the Hollywood stars were coming through the club's door.
A - It was the hottest band in L.A.
Q - What stars would come out to see the group?
A - It was awesome. Name any movie star you can think of and they were in there. John Derek came in there most every night. I'm not gay, but he was a gorgeous man.
Q - Jane Fonda? Racquel Welch?
A - Yeah, yeah. Linda Evens was in there every night.
Q - What were these people doing? Drinking? Dancing? Watching the group?
A - Just drinking, dancing. They were going in there before we were going in there. We went in there right after The Standells came in there. They had a front room which was a Jazz room and The Eddie Carl Trio played in there. It was like all Jazz. I used to go up front and hang out when we were on our break. There was two bands in the big room. It was The Jerry Wright Trio and The Bobby Fuller Four at that time. When we first went to P.J.'s we came from the Ambassador Hotel from the Rendezvous Ballroom in Newport Beach. We took The Chantays, the guys who did "Pipeline", we took their job and we became the house band there. We beat the Standing Room Only record for Dick Dale who played there constantly. We also played Surf music.
Q - Did any of the British Rock stars of the mid-'60s wander in?
A - If they did, they never... During that time it wasn't like it is now. Back then it was kind of like growing. Rock was changing. It was coming out of Surf. The Beatles had already attacked the world and then the British Invasion. The guy that owned P.J.'s, we went there and auditioned and he just loved us. Then he opened up another place called It's Boss which used to be called Ciro's and then he put us over there and then we opened up for Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs, Lovin' Spoonful, all those guys at that time. I was real good. I was real tight. I met Mark Volman from The Turtles. He and I became very good friends. They were playing at The Trip at the time. That was before "Happy Together".
Q - Did Jim Morrison ever come through the door?
A - That happened to me in Vegas, which we became Pollution. That was after Bobby died. We only had about six months of stardom, man, and he was dead.
Q - I realize that. The record broke I believe in January 1966 and by July 1966 Bobby was dead.
A - He was murdered by Big Time.
Q - I'm going to get to that in just a minute. Was there a lot of tension in the group because Bobby was getting all the attention?
A - No, no. Who said that?
Q - I can't remember. I might've read it somewhere or somebody told it to me.
A - Rick Stone told everybody Bobby fired me because I was late all the time. I don't know if you have that information.
Q - First time I've heard that!
A - Utterly a fuckin' lie. Bobby fired me 'cause we got into a fight.
Q - Over what?
A - He said he was gonna kick my ass because he said he did something for me that he didn't do. Then he got pissed off at me. Towards the end Bobby was gonna go as a single, period. He was on his way as a single. He was gonna take Randy with him because Randy's mother, Mrs. Fuller, who was just a sweetheart, told Bobby if you go anywhere you always have to take your brother with you. I heard that out of her mouth myself.
Q - Was there anyone else in the group who could've done the lead singing beside Bobby?
A - Sure. Randy was probably a better singer than Bobby was, but it was Bobby. It was in Bobby to do it. He was just a natural to do it. Randy had more fear issues. His talent was every bit as superb if not more superb than Bobby.
Q - What do you mean by "fear issues"?
A - Fear of failure. Bobby didn't fear failure. He never believed he was gonna fail at anything. You can have talent, but you don't know how to pursue it.
Q - The idea of Bobby beating you up, he was a small guy.
A - So was I. We were about the same size.
Q - Maybe it would've been an equal match then.
A - 'fraid not.
Q - You probably could've beat him up then?
A - With one hand.
Q - You must feel cheated.
A - Oh, I was cheated. I was ripped off. But you know, the thing is, my anger about the Bobby Fuller Four is because of Rick Stone. Rick Stone caused me more grief, told more lies and put it out on the internet, and when it gets on the internet people think it's the Gospel. I had to fight my way back to all these people, to prove to them. I'm gonna tell you something, Dalton can't even do the kick-off to "I Fought The Law". I did that roll. That was me. I played on everything. We were living at Carlton Way. We moved in. We came into P.J.'s. Got us a place at Carlton Way. We all lived together in an apartment. Mrs. Fuller was living with us. We got up at 7:30 every morning. She made us breakfast and we walked to Del-Fi Records and we were in that studio every day if we weren't out playing a gig or doing an autograph session. We were in that studio recording sometimes five songs, sometimes one song, sometimes overdubs, sometimes 'til 5 in the morning. We recorded "I Fought The Law" basic track at 4:40 in the morning. People don't even know that.
Q - Dalton did tell me you, the band, were on the go much of the time.
A - Constantly. We were on fire. We were the hottest thing going. We were just as big as The Beatles actually, in America.
Q - I've heard it said that The Bobby Fuller Four was America's answer to The Beatles.
A - The thing you gotta understand, in Bobby's last days he got hooked up with some pretty strange people in the business. Ahmet Ertegun was wanting him and Ahmet Ertegun told him, "I want you. I don't want the band." See, there were issues there because of Randy. He was going to abide by his mother's wishes. Mrs. Fuller cared immensely for her sons. She was a wonderful, wonderful woman and if it weren't for her, it probably would have been a lot harder. When we were at P.J.'s word of mouth spread like a forest fire in California. It's just how it went. We packed that place every night. I mean it was wall to wall people.
Q - How many sets a night were you playing there?
A - We played two sets a night.
Q - Two 60 minute sets?
A - Yeah. They were about an hour. There was two bands. There was Bobby Fuller Four and then we'd go off and Jerry Wright Trio would play across the room and he played like Frank Sinatra type stuff. I got real tight with the drummer. He was an English drummer. He would come over when we played and he just loved the way I played and he would write what I was playing on a music sheet. He said, "This is what you were playing." I don't know how to read. I do now somewhat, but then I was like a baby. I was just learning. But Bobby said I was a natural and that's why he kept me. I had it in me to do it. Shit, I play better now than I ever played in my life at 73.
Q - You were cheated out of royalties.
A - Here's the situation: I did not have a contract with Bob Keane. Jim Reese did not have a contract. Randy, I don't know. They were brothers. They really started the whole thing together. But when Bobby died my contract terminated. I had money in the band. When we did gigs and we did concerts, like when we played with Herman's Hermits, The Dave Clark Five, what a joke that was. He didn't even sing. He could play drums like a deaf guy. He was horrible. He was just good looking, that was it. So we played with them. We got completely stopped at that concert. We got our clothes ripped off. I mean, it was scary. We were doing all these things. They were coming and coming, one right after another. We did a movie. We did The Ghost In The Invisible Bikini. We'd sign autographs at GEM stores. They'd have a venue set up in the musical area. We were putting money in the band to support the band, just in case, but that money was ours individually, like sessions. All the sessions that we did they had to pay us for those. Bob Keane had to pay for those sessions and they would go in through the union and the checks would come back. We had like a $150 to $200 a week allowance. I really didn't care about the money. All I did was buy clothes and play drums. I practiced every day. I'd go to the studio and practice when nobody was there. I was obsessed with it. Still am. And I never got that money. Not a dime of it. And there was quite a bit there.
Q - Why didn't you get the money you were owed?
A - I got let go in the most classless (way). Bobby Fuller had no class at all. When he fired me, he had had already called for Dalton. He came up to me one night and no one was talking to him and he said, "Dalton is going to be here tomorrow. I'm gonna let you go." It just blew my fucking mind. I go, "Okay, no problem." It is what it is. If that's the way he wanted it. "It's your band, man. That's the way it is." So, that's how I got released. No notice. No nothing. No class. It was just sneaky. Bob Keane knew about it. Randy knew about it. Jim Reese and Dalton were real tight. I think Jim Reese had a lot to do with it because if there were any frictions in the band it was me and Jim Reese. Jim Reese was living in my apartment because he had spent all his money and didn't have any money. Actually, Bobby fired him before he fired me because of the money situation. And we were playing at the Lockade Big L when he fired Jim Reese. And we blew that place out.
Q - Were you in Los Angeles on July 18th, 1966?
A - Oh, yeah.
Q - Did you see Bobby Fuller's body being pulled from the car?
A - No. I wasn't actually there. I was living in the Valley. I wasn't with Bobby then. My wife called me and said that they found Bobby dead. It freaked me out. So I got a hold of Randell. Randell and I were still very tight. We're still tight to this day. I was just shocked, but there was a lot of b.s. about that. Whatever Rick Stone said about it, he doesn't know shit. He wasn't there. He's a liar. Everything out of his mouth except his name is a lie.
Q - Why would Rick Stone lie?
A - I'll tell you something that he did. I'll tell you something that he did that was the dirtiest, rotten thing that I've ever seen anybody do. I don't know if you know, they had another son named Jack. He was murdered and not too long after that, Bobby got murdered. Mrs. Fuller was going through this real painful period. It was Randy's half brother. They were very close, Jack and Randy. Jack got killed. Mrs. Fuller went to California with us basically to try and shake it off. It tore her in half. She never got over it. Then when Bobby as found dead it made it even worse. So, it kind of made her sick. It got her where she was just on death row. She was just on her way out because she wasn't going to live through it. It was sad. Rick Stone went over to her house while Mrs. Fuller was in the hospital. He said, "Can I have this and that?" Mrs. Fuller gave him certain things. Mrs. Fuller couldn't hear very well at the time. What he did was, he went into Bobby Fuller's room and he took everything he could get his hands on that was Bobby's and he sold it to Norton Records for $10,000. As far as I'm concerned that guy shouldn't be mentioned ever again. He did everything Bobby told him to do. He was a roadie. He was a punk. He was a piece of shit and that's all I'm gonna say. That's what he was. I hate to say it, but I'll never get him out of my butt.
Q - He wasn't the Road Manager for The Bobby Fuller Four?
A - That's exactly what he was. He was a gopher. If Bobby said, "Go get me bowl of soup," he'd run on his hands and knees to get it. He didn't hang out with Bobby. He's a liar if he said he did.
Q - What's this about Bobby staying out all night taking care of business? What kind of business would he be taking care of?
A - Maybe he was having a meeting. Maybe he was with Melody, who Larry Noones set him up with. She was kind like a call girl and kept him happy. He might've been meeting with somebody about business. First of all, back in those days that's when we did our business, is at those times of night.
Q - You guys had a business team in place. You had a record company, a personal manager, and an agent. What possible business could he have been taking care of at 2 or 3 in the morning?
A - First of all, Bobby was adamant about taking care of his business. He hated Bob Keane. He didn't like the way Bob Keane recorded us, but he couldn't do nothing 'cause he signed a contract. And, Larry Noones was the money man. Larry Noones was a criminal. Larry Noones was associated with this guy in New York, Morris Levy. I'm lucky I never met him. He had people killed. That's the kind of guy he was.
Q - Have you read this new book on The Bobby Fuller Four, I Fought The Law by Miriam Linna and Randy?
A - I started reading it and I threw it against the wall.
Q - Because?
A - Well, there was too much of Dalton first of all. Dalton didn't have shit to do with it. He took my place for four months and that was it. He didn't do nothing. He's not even good enough to carry my drum cases out the door. I'm telling you, that's the way it is.
Q - Do you believe that the Mafia murdered Bobby?
A - Yes, I do. Bobby died for the business.
Q - Frank Sinatra left the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and the Harry James Orchestra and he didn't end up dead in a car.
A - Yeah, but that was a different kind of music, man. A different era. As far as Frank Sinatra, he was totally mob associated.
Q - He worked venues where crime figures were seen congregating, but that doesn't mean he was affiliated with them.
A - I think if he wanted somebody dead, he probably could've had it done. He had so much power. Frank Sinatra was a very powerful man. But that's beside the point.
Q - But that is the point. Why does it have to be the mob that killed Bobby? Maybe he made a pass at another guy's girlfriend and fists started flying.
A - And they poured gasoline all over him, poured down his throat, poured it all inside the car?
Q - You've got some crazy people out there.
A - Well, they're a lot crazier now than they were then. There weren't any drugs then. The only drug that was happening was pot and acid was kind of sneaking into the picture. FM radio is because of LSD. AM radio was all they played records on. You'd take acid like The Dead and all those San Francisco groups and they'd go on FM and they'd play their albums. These people would go see their concerts and they'd play their albums uninterrupted. They'd play maybe two albums in a row with no advertisements what-so-ever. And man, the people love it.
Q - Back to July 18, 1966. What would the reason be for killing Bobby Fuller?
A - 'Cause he wanted out of his contract, and they didn't want him out of it. They put too much money into him and he was fighting 'em for it. I heard him and Bob Keane in a fight one day. I walked into the studio one day and I just kind of walked into it. I turned around and walked out. I never heard Bobby so mad in my life. He was absolutely infuriated beyond belief. I just turned around and walked out. I just said, "This is bad. I'm not even going to witness it."
Q - I take it Bobby being the kind of guy he was, a very private guy, he wouldn't have shared any information with you?
A - First of all, Bobby didn't hang with us at all. Bobby was a loner. Bobby never hung with anybody in the band. We might have had a beer together, Randy, he and I and Jim, maybe one time, sit around and talk about something for about thirty or forty minutes, but that that'd be it. I didn't see Bobby until I got to the studio or to the gig. I didn't talk to him. Nothing. Me and Randy were always together. Boyd Elder, an artist who did all the Eagles' album covers, he was hanging with us. We were hanging with him. We absolutely didn't know anything what Bobby was doing.
Q - Today, you're still playing music?
A - Oh, yeah. I got my practice pad set up. I'm not in a band. I'm getting ready to do my own album. I got an album worth of songs that are pretty good. I got a song that I think is a hit record called "Gone Fishin'". Every time I play it, people freak.
Q - After 1966, you moved back to Texas, did you?
A - I want back to Texas, back to the country, back to Wichita Falls and got associated with Sam Gibbs Orchestra Service. I was touring with just kind of a Cajun band and then I couldn't take any more because when you get a taste of that kind of life, you get out there to that shit, chicken shit Arkansas, those guys can't play. I was a player. I was hangin' with some of the best musicians in the world, learning from 'em.
Q - And the biggest stars in the world came out to see you.
A - Yeah. I've talked to Mitch Mitchell (drummer for Jimi Hendrix) for an hour. I met him. He was the neatest guy in the world. Great drummer. One of my favorite drummers in life. You talk about a monster drummer!
Q - How far did you get in Miriam Linna's book?
A - You know what? I lived it. The book was really supposed to be more about Bobby and Randy's life growing up and then the Bobby Fuller thing. I'm more interested in telling you because nobody has ever told the story. I don't even know if it's in the book, it was supposed to be, but the name The Bobby Fuller Four came about because of a record, our very first record. We were called Bobby Fuller and The Fanatics. When we did this record, "Those Memories Of You", Dick Dale recorded it also. And it was a pretty cool little song. Randy and I came walking in the studio one day and a box of records was sitting on Millie's desk, his secretary. Randy said, "The record's here. Let's look at 'em." We were all excited, just me and Randy. We opened up the box, take out the record and it says "Those Memories Of You" - Bobby Fuller And The Group. Randy went nuts! He walked around the corner, kicked Bob Keane's big ol' from-ceiling-to-wall door open with his foot. Just kicked it open like a cop would kick a door open. He had that record in his hand and he swung it at Bob Keane like a frisbee and said, "What the fuck is that?" (laughs) If that record hadn't hit an air pocket just before, it would have hit Bob Keane right in the throat and cut his head off. That record flew over the top of his paraphernalia where he had all his awards. That record crashed into a million pieces. He jumped out of his chair, all freaked out 'cause he was always afraid of Randy. He said, "What's the problem?" He said, "I'll tell you what the problem is. What's this Bobby Fuller And The Group shit? Bobby ain't the only one who did this Buddy!" He said, "What should we do about it?" Well, it ended up, I believe Jeannie, who was the head of the fan club, we all got together later after this incident and came up and somebody said, "What about the four of you? Just say Bobby Fuller Four." And that's how it came to be.
Q - Did you read that paragraph in Miriam's book where you played with The Kinks? Did you make it that far into the book?
A - I didn't need to get that far. We were doing Shiveree. The Kinks called us a bunch of faggots. I said, "Let me tell you, you tea-baggin' mother fucker. You wanna come over and fuck with us Texas boys and know what it's like to get your English ass kicked? C'mon, bring it!" They didn't bring it.
Q - Who said that? Ray Davies?
A - I hope it was him. He was the one who thought he was tough. He didn't know what tough is. I was a Golden Gloves boxer.
Q - You're tough!
A - I was raised in a tough neighborhood. I had to learn to fight when I was ten years old. If I didn't, I had to know how to run as fast as I could run. I got sick of runnin' and so I started learnin'. I surprised myself. Well hell, I can kick this guy's ass I thought I couldn't! My reputation got around and nobody messed with me. I kicked bullies assess in high school. If I saw a bully messin' with somebody I'd kick their ass. Right now. Instantly. I hate bullies. Schools oughta take care of it. Kids kill themselves over these idiots. Anyway, I don't get into that shit anymore. I'm seventy-three. I don't want to have a heart attack thinking about it. I'm still in perfect shape. I don't have a gut. My gut is as tight as it was when I was twenty. I'm just as strong as I was then if not stronger. I work out every day, one hundred sit-ups, one hundred push-ups, one hundred biceps and I play drums. Believe me, playing drums the way I play is very physical. I'm afraid of no one and I mean no one. I know how to take care of myself and I've done it many times. Randy and I are basically the two toughest guys in the band. Randy's a tough dude too. He wouldn't back down from nobody. I'm telling you that right now.
Q - You certainly have given me an inside look at The Bobby Fuller Four that I never heard about.
A - I'm just gonna tell you straight up. When I joined The Bobby Fuller Four I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A guy, Billy Webb, who used to play with Bobby, Larry Thompson was the drummer with Bobby. I'm sure you know those names. They were playing with a guy named Joe R. They came to Santa Fe, New Mexico and I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico visiting a bass player who was a friend of mine. I wasn't playing with anybody. Billy said, DeWayne, do you want to go to El Paso? Bobby's looking for a drummer. He wants to go to California and Dalton doesn't want to go 'cause he's married." So I packed my drums into a Mustang owned by Jack Ripshars. Drove to El Paso. Met Randy at the Red Rooster Drive-In. Got in the car. I don't know how they knew I was comin', but they did. He turned around and said, "I hear you want to play in our band." He hands me a big Fifth of Jack Daniels and says, "Here, have a drink." I said, "I don't drink." He said, "I said have a drink!" So I took a hit. The next day we rehearsed. I auditioned. We played four songs. We played three songs and in the middle of the fourth song Bobby stopped the audition. He takes me into his kitchen in his house. He takes me into the kitchen and says, "I like the way you play, man. You got a lot of potential. Would you go to California and play drums on my songs the way I want you to play?" And I said, "Are we leaving today?" And that's how he hired me. When we went to California I played on everything that was ever put out on everything. I recorded everything. I mean, if anybody tells you anything different they're a liar and I'll tell 'em to their face they're a liar if they're still alive. I worked my ass off. I mean, I couldn't believe what was happening. It was like a dream. I thought we were livin' in a dream 'cause we could do no wrong. It was unbelievable. To experience that feeling is hard to explain to anybody.
Q - You were in the right place at the right time with the right stuff.
A - Boy, were we! It was just vocals and tight-ass music. It was so tight it sounded like a record. That's how tight it was. We played that way every night. We did nothing but get better. We just kept getting better and better. In fact, Bobby had already cut "I Fought The Law" in El Paso with Larry Thompson I believe. Even Bobby could've done some of the drumming because he was a drummer. That was his main instrument. One night we played P.J.'s and we were hot like a firecracker and he goes, "Let's go cut 'I Fought The Law' right now. I got the keys to Del-Fi." We went in there and Bob Keane wasn't even there. He ran the board and we cut the basic track to "I Fought The Law" at 4:40 in the morning. My wife was there and she was the only one there besides the band. She wasn't my wife at the time. She was my girlfriend. That's when we cut "I Fought The Law". We were just getting better and better and better at playing with each other. I mean, I started makin' up my own grooves. Bobby would let me do it. And there were a lot of drum overdubs.
Q - "Let Her Dance" was a great record.
A - Oh yeah. It's my favorite. Nobody knows how to play the drum beat on that song either. (laughs) It's too cool.
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