I Fought the Law (2:18)

Cover of Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death

From Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death and 4 other releases

“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, and by The Clash, who performed and recorded a punk rock version in 1976 and 1977.

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

The 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”.

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, and were attempting to flush him out. US ARMY PSYOPS Units surrounded the compound and used several psychological tactics including flood lights and loud speakers. They played music like “I Fought the Law” loudly and repeatedly from the loudspeakers. 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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Dead Kennedys - The Man With the Dogs 6:02 47,599
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The Clash - I Fought the Law 2:41 386,339
Social Distortion - Ring of Fire 3:50 129,870
Descendents - Bikeage 2:13 87,740
Black Flag - Louie Louie 4:14 49,105

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  • DZRTsurfer88

    i really like Jello Biafra's political commentary in this track that voices the anger&frustration of many San Franciscans re: the verdict that allowed Dan White to pretty much get away with murder. however, in the end, the former cop could not escape his own demons. he thought suicide was the answer, but is probably still regretting that move

    15 Feb 2013 Reply
  • deth_from_above

    I blew George and Harvey's brains out with my pistol

    27 Jan 2013 Reply
  • openandrewind

    twinkee's make me do crazy stuff too.

    26 Nov 2012 Reply
  • luke866

    pretty good but i prefer the clash cover tbh

    16 Oct 2012 Reply
  • DavCnuk

    the best version ever!

    6 Oct 2012 Reply
  • HarryFearless

    One of the best DK songs!!! x

    28 May 2012 Reply
  • Gohel

    Much better than The Clash, IMO.

    4 Feb 2012 Reply
  • Kexet1

    I won! Nice with a change (;

    2 Jan 2012 Reply
  • lorendefect

    No shit Dumbass Ryan!

    26 Oct 2011 Reply
  • tloring80

    twinkee defense.

    13 Oct 2011 Reply
  • ryan2006

    I don't understand why people are comparing this to The Clash, The Clash covered the original not this.

    22 Sep 2011 Reply
  • boehj

    classic shit.

    2 Sep 2011 Reply
  • lorendefect

    The Clash had it right, this version leaves much to desire!

    15 Jul 2011 Reply
  • MafaldaNalgas

    Gotta love that Jello Biafra!

    12 May 2011 Reply
  • Evil_Deed

    I fought the law and I won! В) крутая песня

    28 Jan 2011 Reply
  • badr9002

    He killed Harvey Milk and got away with it.

    25 Jan 2011 Reply
  • pizzake

    damn law alway wins, meh.. >:(

    14 Dec 2010 Reply
  • DJ_Werd


    23 Nov 2010 Reply
  • morning_napalm

    why even compare the two songs...who gives a fuck. they're both awesome. both of the bands are awesome. and thats it.

    8 Oct 2010 Reply
  • hisoka156

    Everyone's arguing over whether the DK version or The Clash version is better. Dude, they're two different songs entirely. The Clash made an excellent cover, but DK made a political statement. Both are awesome songs, but they're not really comparable.

    25 Aug 2010 Reply
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