Daily Progress


Well Known musician found dead; police rule it a suicide

Sad news hit the Charlottesville music scene on September 20, 1996, after a security guard found Haines C. Fullerton, former lead guitarist of The Deal, a popular rock band based in Charlottesville during the '80s, dead in the poolhouse of an apartment complex.

Fullerton, 37, a well known local musician who had co-written a song on Dave Matthews Band's hit album Under The Table and Dreaming and wrote vocal arrangements on Shannon Worrell's album Three Wishes, was found dead around 9:30 pm at Ivy Gardens apartments with a gunshot wound to the head. Albemarie County Police have ruled Fullerton's death a suicide.

Born in Minnesota, Fullerton lived with his family in Memphis before coming to Charlottesville as a UVA freshman in 1977. He graduated from UVA in 1981 with an English degree.

The members of The Deal met UVA and formed a rock band that went through different incarnations before breaking up in 1988.

With a good-sized following along the east coast college circuit, The Deal's high point came in 1987 when it released an album titled Brave New World on an independent label. The Deal had some bites from major record labels, says former drummer Michael Clarke, but no takers, despite its devoted fan base.

Clarke, a local businessman who joined The Deal in 1984, describes its music as "Beatles-esque with a garage sound."

"We were all very shocked -- but not surprised," Clarke says. "Haines had a very generous heart, but he was very difficult to penetrate in a personal way. He was a self-professed loner."

Clarke says music was where Fullerton's talents shone the most. Although an able songwriter, Fullerton's production skills were even more exceptional, say Clarke.

"Someone would come in with lyrics and vocals," Clarke says, "and he would make it into a finished product. His strength was in hearing compositions in their final arrangements and telling you how it would sound."

Fullerton bartended at many local restaurants and nightspots, including Eastern Standard and Tokyo Rose until last year. He was shocked by news of Fullerton's death.

"At a time like this, people always say nice things, but he really was a sweet person," Mori says. "When I think back, maybe he did have personal problems, but he never really talked about them."

Fullerton collaborated with Dave Matthews band members on the instrumental song "#34" (track 12 on the album Under the Table and Dreaming). After the multi-platinum success of that album, Fullerton quit bartending, says a friend, to live off royalties from the album.

"It was a really good break for him," says local businessman Blair Kelly, who lived near Fullerton on Liberty Hall Farm.

Local musician Shannon Worrell remembers Fullerton as someone who could see "the whole picture."

"He facilitated lots of good things between people," Worrell says. "What Haines could do is make people put their egos aside. Kristin (Asbury) and I even started playing together because of Haines."

A spokesperson for Dave Matthews says the singer was private in grief and would probably not comment on Fullerton's death.

Fullerton's survivors include his mother Shirley Milnor, and several brothers and sisters. A funeral was conducted on September 26, 1996 in Memphis, where his mother and other family members live. A Charlottesville memorial service is being planned by several friends, although no date has been set. -- Jonathan Fox.