The Big Bopper

Chantilly Lace and a pretty face and a ponytail hangin down, A wiggle in her walk and a giggle in her talk, They're gonna make the world go 'round.

Jiles Perry Richardson was born on October 24, 1930 in Sabine Pass, Texas. The Big Bopper was born in 1957 years after, when Jiles was DJing at KTRM radio, located in Beaumont, Texas (near Port Arthur, the home of Jiles and his family). There, he apparently set a world record for longest continuous broadcasting by broadcasting for six days straight. Besides his wonderful hit 'Chantilly Lace', the Bopper wrote several country and western songs. Johnny Preston had a hit with his 'Running Bear' and George Jones with his 'White Lightning'.

The Big Bopper died in 1958. He wanted to make enough money to retire buy his own radio station, so he went on the Winter Dance Party. The plane he had chartered with Buddy Holly and Richie Valens crashed on February 3rd, and he died.

There isn't much information about The Big Bopper, and its a shame. Buddy Holly predated Weezer and Elvis Costello; Ritchie Valens the late 90s vogue for Hispanic singers. Holly was a tortured youth, Valens a handsome young man. They make better subjects for movies then a Texan family man who wanted to write and record songs, settle down with his wife, maybe own a radio station.

But the Bopper survives in karaoke machines and jukeboxes, his animalistic yawps providing a taste of sex in the days when my only music was oldies stations, the hits of the 50s and 60s. This wasn't coy or shy, or dressed up in fancy lyrics. It was a pure statement of sexual desire without the musical embellishment of actual rock and roll. I can't say for sure that it's good, but its certainly interesting and hard to ignore.

I'm not going to claim that Jiles Richardson was a forgotten genius. He may have influenced the yelps and catcalls of the Rolling Stones; rock and roll did, at one end, arise out of novelty songs. I'm not a musicologist, though. I just keep coming back to that voice, and how it must have sounded coming out of a radio for 6 days straight. And I think about Clear Channel, and how unimaginable it would be for any DJ to broadcast that long, or be that dedicated, or care so much about his work but so little about stardom (the website I used states that he cared little for the egos the stars displayed). I probably wouldn't have gotten along with him, but I liked imitating his voice well enough.

He's survived by his son, who calls himself "The Big Bopper Junior".

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