"I Fought the Law" was Bobby Fuller's only major hit, reaching the Top Ten in early 1966. Fuller had lots of good material besides this single, but even among listeners who only know this one record of his, it's often acknowledged as a rock'n'roll classic. It's also the archetypal rock'n'roll song of conflict between the outlaw and the law, not so much celebrating the outlaw outsider as acting as a cautionary tale of the consequences of living outside the law. "I Fought the Law" establishes an exciting, dramatic atmosphere right from the outset with low heavy drum rolls, settling into a hand-clapping rhythm and a galloping Tex-Mex guitar riff that might be the perfect combination of rock'n'roll and Western cowboy music. It's the first image of the song that stays with you the most indelibly: the picture of the singer breaking rocks in the hot sun, immediately followed by the chorus noting "I fought the law, and the law won." For such potentially downbeat subject matter, the tone of the record is actually pretty upbeat and celebratory: Fuller knows he's been beaten, but sounds like he wouldn't have changed a thing. Still, the finality of his sentence is emphasized by a neat bit where his lyric about robbing people with a six-gun is unexpectedly punctuated by a drop-out of all the instruments save an especially drawn-out drum roll. The core lyric of a caught bank robber gets a little tangled by passing references to regret over the woman he's left behind, but that doesn't diminish the power of the song, beefed up by full backup harmonies from rest of the Bobby Fuller Four. "I Fought the Law" has a much longer history than most fans are aware of, having first appeared as an obscure LP track on the 1960 album In Style with the Crickets. The Crickets at this point were operating without their former frontman Buddy Holly, and the song was written by Cricket Sonny Curtis. The track was discovered, however, by Bobby Fuller, who sounded a great deal like Buddy Holly at times. Actually Fuller didn't change the original arrangement a great deal, just adding some punch and making it a little less avowedly Hollyesque. Fuller first recorded it on a 1964 non-hit single, but redid it a little while later, the remake not differing a whole lot from Fuller's first attempt, but again sounding fuller and more AM-radio ready, particularly in the hard-hitting percussion sounds. "I Fought the Law" has been covered many times since Fuller made it a hit, the roster of cover artists including the Dead Kennedys, the Stray Cats, and Hank Williams, Jr. But undoubtedly the most well known post-Fuller cover version was the one by the Clash.