Written by Sonny Curtis and first recorded by The Crickets (1959).
First covered by Paul Stefan & the Royal Lancers (1962), Bobby Fuller (1964).
Hit versions by The Bobby Fuller Four (US #9/UK #33/CAN #11 1965), The Clash (recorded 1979 |UK #29 1988).
From the wiki: “Sonny Curtis (‘More Than I Can Say‘, ‘Theme to The Mary Tyler Moore Show‘) joined The Crickets as lead vocalist and guitarist after Buddy Holly’s death in 1959. The Crickets recorded Curtis’ ‘I Fought the Law’ shortly thereafter, releasing it on the 1960 album In Style With The Crickets. (Had Holly had lived, there’s a good chance it would have been a huge hit for him with The Crickets.)
“A cover was recorded in 1962 by a Milwaukee, Wisconsin band, Paul Stefan & the Royal Lancers, and released on Citation Records. While the single was successful locally – it topped sales charts in Milwaukee in August and September 1962 – and was named a ‘Regional Breakout’ by Billboard (and was picked up for distribution in the UK by London Records), the Royal Lancers’ arrangement did not chart nationally.
“Bobby Fuller”s first attempt at recording ‘I Fought the Law’, in 1964 on Exeter Records, also became a regional success, this time in New Mexico and West Texas – his biggest local hit. In 1965, Fuller re-recorded by song (using the same group of musicians) for Del-Fi Records label and, with national promotional support, scored a Top 10 hit, peaking at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100.