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J. P "Big Bopper" Richardson, Jr
Original name: Jiles Perry Richardson
Birth: Oct. 24, 1930
Sabine Pass
Jefferson County
Texas, USA
Death: Feb. 3, 1959
Clear Lake
Cerro Gordo County
Iowa, USA

Rock Singer. He is best remembered for his song "Chantilly Lace" (1958), and for dying in the plane crash that killed rockers Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, along with pilot Roger Peterson. Born Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr, in Sabine Pass, Texas, he was the son of Jiles P. and Elise Stalsby Richardson. His father worked as a driller in the oil fields. To distinguish him from his father, he was called JP or Jape by his friends. When he was very young, his family moved to Beaumont, Texas, where he would graduate from Beaumont High School in 1947. He would study law at Lamar College, while working part time at KTRM radio. In 1955, he joined the United States Army, where he spent two years as a radar operator at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. Upon his discharge, he returned full time to KTRM radio, and noticing that youths liked a new dance called "The Bop," he kicked off his radio show as "The Big Bopper." He soon became the station's Program Director. About this time, he started writing songs, mostly for other singers, which became hits, such as "White Lightning" (1959) and "Running Bear" (1959), although the songs became famous after his death. Mercury Records Promotion Director Harold "Pappy" Dailey heard of him and signed him to a contract, and his first song, "Beggar to a King" had poor to moderate success. But with "Chantilly Lace" Richardson soon hit the pop charts, becoming 16th, and spending 22 weeks on the Top 40. Taking time off from KTRM Radio, Richardson joined Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Ritchie Valens, and Dion and the Belmonts for a Winter Dance Party tour of the Midwest. When the bus broke down near Mason City, Iowa, Holly charted a 4-seat Beechcraft Bonanza plane to fly to the next stop, taking Richardson and Valens with him. Taking off in a light snow, the plane crashed just five miles later, killing everyone aboard. On March 6, 2007, he was exhumed and autopsied by Dr. Bill Bass at his son's request. It was concluded that he died of massive injuries in the plane crash of February 3, 1959. After Bass' examination of The Bopper's remains, he was reburied in a new grave at Forest Lawn, in a different part of the cemetery where a historic plaque had already been installed, and where a bronze statue to the early rock star is planned to be erected. (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson) 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Jiles Perry Richardson (1905 - 1984)
  Essie Bernice Richardson (1909 - 1983)
 
 Spouse:
  Adrianne Fryou Richardson Wenner (1936 - 2004)*
 
 Children:
  Debra Joy Richardson Bridges (1955 - 2010)*
  Jay Richardson (1959 - 2013)*
 
 Siblings:
  J. P Richardson (1930 - 1959)
  James Gilbert Richardson (1932 - 2010)*
  Cecil Allen Richardson (1934 - 1989)*
 
*Calculated relationship

Cause of death: Plane crash
 
Burial:
Forest Lawn Memorial Park and Funeral Home
Beaumont
Jefferson County
Texas, USA
Plot: First burial plot-Lily Pool Garden, Block C, Lot 31, Space 3
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jan 01, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial# 1705
J. P Big Bopper Richardson, Jr
Added by: Ron Moody
 
J. P Big Bopper Richardson, Jr
Added by: death2ur
 
J. P Big Bopper Richardson, Jr
Added by: death2ur
 
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