The Big Bopper

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Jiles Perry "J. P." Richardson, Jr. (October 24, 1930 – February 3, 1959) also commonly known as The Big Bopper, was an American disc jockey, singer, and songwriter whose big voice and exuberant personality made him an early rock and roll star. He is best known for his recording of "Chantilly Lace". On February 3, 1959, on what has become known as The Day the Music Died, Richardson was killed in a small-plane crash in Iowa, along with Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.

Contents

Early years

Richardson was born in Sabine Pass, Texas, the oldest son of Jiles Perry Richardson, Sr. and his wife Elise (Stalsby) Richardson. His father was an oil field worker and driller. Richardson had two younger brothers, Cecil and James. The family soon moved to Beaumont, Texas. Richardson graduated from Beaumont High School in 1947 and played on the "Royal Purple" football team as a defensive lineman, wearing number 85. Richardson later studied pre-law at Lamar College, and was a member of the band and chorus. He sometimes played with the Johnny Lampson Combo.

Radio

He worked part time at Beaumont, Texas radio station KTRM (now KZZB). He was hired by the station full-time in 1949 and quit college. Richardson married Adrianne Joy Fryou on April 18, 1952. In December 1953, their daughter, Debra Joy, was born. Earlier that year Richardson had been promoted to Supervisor of Announcers at KTRM.

In March 1955, he was drafted into the United States Army and did his basic training at Fort Ord, California. He spent the rest of his two years service as a radar instructor at Fort Bliss, near El Paso, Texas.

Following his discharge as a corporal in March 1957, Richardson returned to KTRM radio, where he held down the "Dishwashers' Serenade" shift from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. One of the station's sponsors wanted Richardson for a new time slot and suggested an idea for a show. Richardson had seen the college students doing a dance called The Bop, and he decided to call himself "The Big Bopper". His new radio show ran from 3 to 6 p.m. Richardson soon became the station's program director.

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