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J. P. Richardson Autographs, Memorabilia & Collectibles

Born: October 24, 1930 in Sabine Pass, Texas
Died: February 03, 1959 in Grant Township, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Biography | show moreshow less
Jiles Perry Richardson (1930-1959) was a Texas disc jockey who called himself "The Big Bopper" after the latest dance craze, the bop. His song, "Chantilly Lace", which he wrote and sang, reached the "Top Ten" in 1958. In January 1959, The Big Bopper was booked on the Winter Dance Party tour that would cover most of the Midwest. The tour included such headliners as Buddy Holly, Dion and the Belmonts, Waylon Jennings and Ritchie Valens. As the bus pulled into Clear Lake, Iowa for their February 2nd performance, Holly made arrangements to charter a plane to fly him and two of his band members to the next gig in Fargo, North Dakota. The Big Bopper and Valens had bad colds and Richardson wanted to fly to Fargo so that he would have time to see a doctor. He asked Waylon Jennings if he would give up his seat and Jennings agreed. Valens asked backup musician and former Cricket Tommy Allsup for his seat, and the two decided to flip a coin to see who would take the plane (Valens called "heads" and won the toss). Allsup later opened a club named The Head's Up Saloon, a tribute to the coin toss that saved his life. The plane took off from the airport at around 1:00 a.m. on February 3, 1959. It made it into the dark snowy night, but plummeted to the ground about five miles from the airport. There were no survivors. The shock felt throughout the music world at this tragic loss is echoed in Don McLean's song "American Pie" as "the day the music died".

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