The Big Bopper
Born Jiles Perry Richardson, October 24, 1930 in Sabine Pass,
Texas. His family moved to Port Arthur when he was very young.
He attended public schools, and played football in high school.
Jape graduated at Beaumont High School in 1949, While he was in
college, he found a job at a radio station in Beaumont, Texas.
Jiles, or "Jape" as he preferred to be called, married
Adrian Joy Fryon on April 18, 1952. They would have a daughter,
Deborah. In 1957, while working as a deejay for KTRM in Beaumont,
he coined the name "The Big Bopper" a stage name he
would use for the rest of his life.
>In May of '57 he broadcast for six days straight, spinning
1,821 records and established a world record for continuous broadcasting.
Jape had been writing some songs, and was soon discovered by Harold
"Pappy" Daily. It was in 1957 when Jape recorded his
most famous song, "Chantilly Lace", which became the
3rd most played song of 1958.
Throughout '58, Jape signed onto many tours to promote his
record. His last tour being the Winter Dance Party of 1959. The tour was scheduled to play in remote locations throughout
mid-west United States, and the mid-west was suffering a harsh
winter. The bus provided to the musicians had engine problems
and no heating system.
For this last reason Jape had caught the
flu. When the tour rolled into Clear Lake Iowa, Buddy Holly chartered
a plane to fly his band to the next gig. Jape approached Buddy's bass
player, Waylon Jennings, and asked for Jennings seat on the plane,
so that Jape could get some rest and a doctors appointment. Waylon
agreed and gave his seat to Jape, a decision that saved him, but killed the Bopper. Waylon would
feel guilty for this for some time. The plane took off from Mason
City Airport around 1:00 the morning of February 3rd, 1959, and
crashed 8 miles after takeoff, killing Jape, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the pilot Roger Peterson.
At the time of his death, Jape was 28 years old. His wife, Adrian,
was pregnant with their second child. Jay P. Richardson would
be born 84 days after his father's death. Jape's body was flown
back to Beaumont by private plane. After his funeral the streets
were lined with fans watching the long procession of cars moving
to the cemetery.
Jiles Perry Richardson was interred in the Beaumont Cemetery
on February 5th.
Bio by Chris Dohany