The Big Bopper's Chantilly Lace
was one of the most-played songs of 1958, but he was far more than just a singer. He was also a songwriter who wrote the hit songs Running Bear
, and White Lightning
. Music historians also credit him with recording the very first rock
Richardson came up with the nickname "The Big Bopper" while working as a DJ at KTRM, and had the distinction of holding the world record for continuous broadcasting. In 1957, he broke the record for continuous on-air broadcasting by playing 1,821 records, spanning 122 hours and 8 minutes. That was
five days, two hours and eight minutes that he spent at his mike.
Known to his friends as Jiles, "Jape" or "the Bopper," he had the foresight to recognize the future importance of video to the music industry. In fact, it was The Big Bopper who coined the term "music video" in a 1959 article. At the time
of his death in a plane crash, it was reported that he was preparing to start production on music videos specifically intended for television. He even had hopes of producing a specially designed jukebox which would play music videos. He had hoped his singing would generate the money needed for all his music business plans. In light of his experience as a disc jockey and programming director at
KTRM, in Beaumont, Texas, he'd also planned to purchase his own radio station.
The plane in which he was killed was a single engine, four-passenger Beechcraft Bonanza. The plane crash also killed singers Buddy Holly
and Ritchie Valens. Investigations showed the plane
was properly maintained, and in good operating order at the time of the crash. The Civil Aeronautics Board concluded that the probable cause of the accident, ". . . was the pilot's unwise decision to embark on a flight which would necessitate flying solely by instruments when he was not properly certificated or qualified to do so. Contributing factors were serious deficiencies in the weather
briefing, and the pilot's unfamiliarity with the instrument which determines the attitude of the aircraft."
In March 2007, The Big Bopper's body was exhumed to investigate incessant rumors that a gun might have been fired on board the plane, and that he might have actually survived the crash and died
trying to seek help. Those rumors were finally put to rest after an autopsy by noted forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Bass determined he suffered massive fractures and likely died immediately in the 1959 plane crash. "There was no indication of foul play," Dr. Bass concluded following his examination. "There are fractures from head to toe. Massive fractures . . . (He) died immediately." "He
didn't crawl away. He didn't walk away from the plane." The finding confirms the conclusions made by earlier investigations. Selected singing credits: Chantilly Lace Big
Bopper's Wedding Little Red Riding Hood Beggar to a King Walking Through My Dreams Crazy Blues Preacher and the Bear
Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor It's the Truth Ruth Bopper's Boogie Woogie Monkey Song (You Made A Monkey Out Of Me)
That's What I'm Talking About Teenage Moon