Born: Oct. 24, 1930 in Sabine Pass, Texas
Died: Feb. 3, 1959
J.P. Richardson was born in the little town of Sabine Pass, TX. Richardson worked as a disc jockey before entering the military. Upon his discharge in 1955, he set his sights on becoming the preeminent DJ in East Texas. He worked at KTRM in Beaumont, TX, and at one time set a record for continuous broadcasting, lasting for over 122 hours.
Richardson developed "The Big Bopper" as a radio character and wrote and recorded several songs under the Mercury label, including the number one hit "Chantilly Lace" (gold record, 1958). Other songs such as "Little Red Riding Hood," and the "Big Bopper's Wedding" also made it to the charts. He also wrote hit songs for other southeast Texas musicians including "White Lightning" for George Jones and "Running Bear" for Johnny Preston. The background vocals for "Running Bear" were performed by Richardson and George Jones.
In early 1959 Richardson joined some other notable rock and roll acts on a tour of the upper Midwest called "Winter Dance Party." One of the other performers, Buddy Holly, was tired of traveling on the group's bus. After a performance in Clear Lake, Iowa on a chilly February night, Holly made arrangements for a private pilot to fly Holly, Richardson and another performer on the tour, Ritchie Valens to the next stop on the tour. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff on the morning of February 3, killing all four on board. That plane crash became part of the subject matter when another singer/songwriter, Don McLean, wrote and recorded “American Pie” (The Day the Music Died) in the early 1970s.