The Big Bopper Biography

Jiles Perry Richardson, 24 October 1930, Sabine Pass, Texas, USA, d. 3 February 1959, USA. After working as a disc jockey in Beaumont, Richardson won a recording contract with Mercury Records, releasing two unsuccessful singles in 1957. The following year, under his radio moniker ‘The Big Bopper’, he recorded the ebullient ‘Chantilly Lace’, a rock ‘n’ roll classic, complete with blaring saxophone and an insistent guitar run. However, it was scheduled to be the b-side, backed with the satirical ‘The Purple People Eater Meets The Witch Doctor’; the disc was a transatlantic hit. The follow-up, ‘Big Bopper’s Wedding’, underlined the singer’s love of novelty and proved popular enough to win him a place on a tour with Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. On 3 February 1959, a plane carrying the three stars crashed, leaving no survivors. Few of Richardson’s recordings were left for posterity, though there was enough for a posthumous album, Chantilly Lace, which included the rocking ‘White Lightning’. In 1960, Johnny Preston offered the ultimate valediction by taking the Big Bopper’s composition ‘Running Bear’ to number 1 on both sides of the Atlantic.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.