Jiles Perry “J. P.” Richardson, Jr. (October 24, 1930 – February 3, 1959), commonly known as The Big Bopper, was an American musician, songwriter, and disc jockey, whose big rockabilly look, style, voice, and exuberant personality made him an early rock and roll star. He is best known for his 1958 recording of “Chantilly Lace”.
On February 3, 1959, Richardson died in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa, along with music stars Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, and pilot Roger Peterson. That event has become known as “The Day the Music Died” because it is so called in Don McLean’s 1971 song “American Pie”.
J. P. Richardson was born in Sabine Pass, Texas, the oldest son of oil-field worker Jiles Perry Richardson, Sr. and his wife Elise (Stalsby) Richardson. Richardson had two younger brothers, Cecil and James. The family soon moved to Beaumont, Texas. Richardson graduated from Beaumont High School in 1947 and played on the “Royal Purple” football team as a defensive lineman, wearing number 85. Richardson later studied prelaw at Lamar College, and was a member of the band and chorus.