The Big Bopper was a 1950s rockabilly singer known mainly for his 1958 hit “Chantilly Lace.”
He was born in Sabine Pass, Texas in 1930 and given the first name Jiles, an alternate spelling of Giles. His middle name was Perry. Jiles preferred to go by his initials so he was generally known as J.P. Richardson. He did release some country songs as “Jape Richardson and the Japettes.”
J.P. quit college to work for the local radio station full time. That occupation was interrupted by a 2-year stint in the army. When he returned, he got the idea for the pseudonym “Big Bopper” after seeing some college student doing a dance called “The Bop.”
The Big Bopper was also a songwriter. He wrote “Chantilly Lace” as well as three songs that were hits for other singers: “Running Bear” (Johnny Preston); “Treasure of Love” and “White Lightning” (George Jones).
His life ended tragically at age 28, when he died in a plane crash that also claimed the lives of singers Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.