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"I Fought the Law" is a much-covered song originally recorded by Sonny Curtis and The Crickets (post Buddy Holly) in 1959. The song was famously covered by Bobby Fuller Four, who recorded a more successful version of the song in 1965 after releasing an earlier, slightly different version on Fuller's own Exeter Record label in 1964 and by The Clash, who performed and recorded a punk rock version in 1979. The song was also featured in a Canon commercial.

Just as the song became a top ten hit, Bobby Fuller was found dead in his mother's parked automobile in a dirt parking lot near his Los Angeles, California apartment. The police considered the death an apparent suicide; "just about everyone who knew him disagreed",[1] however, believing instead that Fuller was murdered.

Dead Kennedys, in particular, wrote and recorded a different version as a comment on Dan White's 1978 murder of San Francisco mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk, and White's subsequent use of the "Twinkie defense" to influence the court to convict him of the lesser charge of manslaughter. The song, sung from White's perspective, replaced the line "I fought the law and the law won" with "I fought the law and I won" and the final line was changed to "I AM the law, so I won."

In 1989 during Operation Just Cause, when the U.S. Army had Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega confined to the Papal Nunciature, the Vatican's Embassy. Journalists at the scene mistook the playing of loud music including "I Fought the Law" loudly and repeatedly over loudspeakers as an attempt to flush out Noriega using PSYOPS tactics. In reality, the music was played to prevent the journalists hearing the negotiations taking place between the USA and Noriega. The Bobby Fuller Four version of this song is ranked #175 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

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