Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Jay Richardson - 'The Big Bopper, Jr.'

One of my favorite rock and roll novelty songs is "Chantilly Lace", written and recorded by Jiles Perry (J.P., or 'Jape') Richardson, who was known as 'The Big Bopper'.

J.P. Richardson wrote and recorded many songs during his short life, which ended on February 3, 1959, in the plane crash that also ended the lives of two other rock and rollers, Buddy Holly and Richie Valens, as well as their pilot Roger Peterson.

Richardson's wife was pregnant with their second child, who was born a couple of months later, in April 1959. He was named Jay Perry Richardson.

Jay Richardson was never told much about his father, as his mother eventually remarried. As an adult, he became interested in knowing more about his birth father, and he learned much by contacting people in the music business who knew his Dad. I'd read an article about him, I don't remember where, but perhaps it was in Bill Griggs' Rockin' 50s magazine.

In 1989, I called Jay, to tell him of my enjoyment of 'The Big Bopper's songs, and he was appreciative of my interest. The Port Arthur, Texas Historical Society published a scrapbook by Tim Knight, which I bought, and Jay signed the inside page overlaying a portrait of his Dad.

He told me he was trying to locate some people who'd known his Dad, like radio disc jockeys and music promo people, and I offered to help. He sent me a list of names and I was able to help with only a couple. The list is nowhere to be found among my collection, but I still have his note which accompanied it. It's dated 7/29/89.

He enclosed with the above note an original promo card for two "new" songs by 'The Big Bopper'.

Jay, in tribute to the memory of his father, began his own career, performing his dad's songs. He is known as 'The Big Bopper Jr.' He sent me this signed photo, looking very much like his father, seen below.

Jay has recorded a cd of 'The Big Bopper's' songs, and remarkably sounds like his Dad, too, though he brings his own essence to the performances.

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