Born: August 18, 1939 in Port Arthur, Texas
Died: March 4, 2011
Best known for his international number one hit "Running Bear" in 1960, John Preston Courville began his musical career singing in high school choral contests throughout the state of Texas. He formed a rock and roll band called the Shades, which performed in local clubs. J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson heard about Preston and went to see him perform.
Richardson offered Preston the chance to record a song he had written, "Running Bear," which they did in Houston, Texas, in 1958. The "Indian" sounds on the record were performed by Richardson and George Jones. The record was released after the Big Bopper's untimely death due to a plane accident. The song entered the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in October 1959, reaching number one in January 1960, and was also a transatlantic chart-topper, reaching #1 in the United Kingdom in March 1960. Sales of the record exceeded one million copies, earning Preston his first gold disc.
Preston quickly followed up with another hit called "Cradle of Love" (U.S. #7, U.K. # 2) and made several other records during the early 1960s that met with modest success. Preston's "I'm Starting to Go Steady," a song on the flip side of "Feel So Fine" (Billboard #14), was released in June 1960. Preston made appearances on American Bandstand (ABC-TV) and The Milt Grant Show, and also The Buddy Deane Show (East Coast, United States).
Until his death, Preston resided in Southeast Texas and continued to travel the world with various Golden Oldies tours.