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A-breakin’ rocks in the hot sun

Regrets don't have to be big to be remembered.

One day between editions at El Paso's deservedly dying evening newspaper, my copy desk colleagues and I were sitting around talking. Someone mentioned The Bobby Fuller Four, a band that got its start in that West Texas city.

I don't remember how it came up. I vaguely recall a magazine story (Texas Monthly?) about the unusual circumstances surrounding Fuller's death in California. Maybe that is how we got going on to the subject.

Anyway, the lone El Paso native among us said something about how one of that band's original members worked at a paint store or an auto glass place right there in El Paso. I thought that was interesting.

Now this was almost 15 years after “I Fought the Law” was a hit. There was no Bobby Fuller Four anymore. But I knew I would enjoy reading a story about someone who had been in that band and now made a living in a more ordinary way.

One problem. Our features pages were a self-parody of an old-fashioned women's/society section.

And trying to interest one of the newsside reporters in the story seemed iffy. Most of the ones I actually knew were low-wattage prima donnas who tended to huff “Do whatever you want, just take my name off it” if a copy editor had the temerity to approach with suggestions about how an impenetrably confusing news story could be made almost understandable.

(Speaking of regrets. I was in my physical prime then and could have mopped the floor with any of those gentlemen. I sort of wish I had invited one or two of the most insufferable characters to step outside and exchange views in a way a Texan might have understood. They would have declined my offer, no doubt. But it might have made subsequent conversations more fruitful.) 

So what did I do about the guy who had been in The Bobby Fuller Four?

Nothing. That's what I did.

Now maybe my copy desk colleague with local roots had said something about that former band member having rebuffed previous attempts to interview him. With the weirdness surrounding Fuller's death, that is entirely possible. I just don't remember now.

But I do know I made no effort to locate the paint store or whatever and speak to him myself.

Have you ever seen the Tom Hanks movie “That Thing You Do”? It's highly watchable. It is about a 1960s rock band that had one big hit song.

Made for a pretty good story. But in order to tell it, you first have to get up out of your chair. 

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About this blog

Features writer Paul Turner is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review in the Features department. He writes "The Slice" column, which appears six times a week and produces general features stories for the Today section.

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