Thursday, February 03, 2011

"Chantilly Lace" by The Big Bopper

At the ripe old age of 28, he was the eminence grise of The Winter Dance Party, and poised to take the music industry by storm as well, having already thought of the idea to wed music and pictures in a form we would today recognize as the video.

Equally attuned to the show as well as the business of show business, J. P. Richardson once broadcast continuously for five days, two hours and eight minutes, playing 1,821 records and taking showers during five-minute newscasts; during the marathon, he lost 35 pounds (16 kg). Radio station KTRM paid its star DJ $746.50 for his overtime and when it was all over he slept for 20 hours.

His enormous stamina temporarily sapped by a cold, and tired of having to squeeze his defensive lineman's frame into a narrow bus seat, he bargained his way onto the Beechcraft Bonanza that would claim his life on this day in 1959, along with the lives of his friends Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. The subsequent crash meant his wife would have no husband, his daughter no father, and his unborn son a career for life.

Born two months after the Big Bopper met his end, Jay P. Richardson now tours the country as the Big Bopper Jr., including an annual gig at the Surf Ballroom, where his father had last performed. The crown jewel of his set - Chantilly Lace, which was the third most played song of 1958 - is seen here performed by the old man himself on American Bandstand, complete with an introduction by Dick Clark!
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