J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson

J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson

Original Name Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr.
Sabine Pass, Jefferson County, Texas, USA
Death 3 Feb 1959 (aged 28)
Clear Lake, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, USA
Burial Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas, USA
Plot First burial plot-Lily Pool Garden, Block C, Lot 31, Space 3
Memorial ID 1705 · View Source
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Rock Singer. Best remembered for his hit song "Chantilly Lace" (1958), he was killed in the same plane crash that also killed early rock-n-roll icons Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens in an event that became known as "The Day The Music Died". Born in Sabine Pass, Texas, 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 his remains were 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 was erected.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

Family Members



OCT. 24, 1930 - FEB. 3, 1959



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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 1705
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson (24 Oct 1930–3 Feb 1959), Find a Grave Memorial no. 1705, citing Forest Lawn Memorial Park and Funeral Home, Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .