2010 - Individual Artist
Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr., aka the Big Bopper, wrote his first musical composition in crayon at the age of three. He rode the tide of popular music during his ten years as radio announcer (the early term for DJ) at KTRM Radio in Beaumont, Texas , changing his persona to fit the times. When be-bop was the rage and “bop” was the dance of choice, a legend was born.
His first recording efforts, “Bopper’s Boogie Woogie”, “Crazy Blues”, and “Teenage Moon”, weren’t failures but they didn’t bring national recognition. Inspired by novelty songs of the day, “Jape” wrote “The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor.” He just needed a “B” side for the 45. On the 90 mile drive to the recording studio in Houston , he penned “Chantilly Lace”…and the rest, as they say, is history.
Far from being a one-hit wonder, the Bopper wrote and recorded “White Lightnin’” – also the first big hit for George Jones. It stayed on the charts for 22 weeks after the plane crash that killed the Bopper, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens on February 3, 1959, after their last performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake . In 1960, “Running Bear”, written by the Bopper and recorded before his death, hit #1 for Johnny Preston with Jones and Bopper doing the Native American backup sounds. A 1972 cover of “Chantilly Lace” by Jerry Lee Lewis also hit #1. In 2009, Jeff Cook, formerly of ALABAMA , recorded Bopper’s “I Want A Rock and Roll Guitar” (updated for the 21st century!), on his latest album.
After the Bopper’s death, ’s Disc Magazine published an interview conducted shortly before the plane crash. In the still-existent article, Jape predicted the advent of the music video (he actually recorded three prior to his death, which survive to this day). He also discussed the idea of juke boxes which would play the same videos, a clever idea that, but for his death might have come to pass.
Both a feature film and a stage musical are in development – see and for more information.
The Big Bopper has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and a rose named “Chantilly Lace” was recently included in the Nashville Music Garden . Although Buddy and Ritchie are both in the national Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Big Bopper is still waiting. In Iowa he waits no longer as J.P. Richardson joins Buddy and Ritchie in the IRRMA Hall of Fame; he with the Class of 2010.