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The Big Bopper

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Jiles Perry (J.P.) Richardson, Jr. (October 24, 1930 – February 3, 1959), called Jape by friends but commonly known as The Big Bopper, was a disc jockey who parlayed a big voice and exuberant personality into a career as an early rock and roll star. He is best known for his hit song “Chantilly Lace”.

Richardson was born in Sabine Pass, Texas, the oldest son of Jiles Perry, Sr. and Elise (Stalsby) Richardson. His father was an oil field worker and driller. He had two younger brothers, Cecil and James. Within a short time the family moved to Beaumont, Texas. He graduated from Beaumont High School in 1947 and was a member of the “Royal Purple” football team, wearing number “85” as a defensive lineman.

Richardson later studied law at Lamar College, and was a member of the band and chorus. During this time he worked part time at KTRM radio, where in 1949 he was hired full-time and left school. On April 18, 1952, Richardson married Adrianne Joy Fryou from Montegut, Louisiana; in December 1953 their daughter, Debra Joy, was born. Earlier that year Richardson was promoted to Supervisor of Announcers at KTRM. In March 1955 he was drafted into the United States Army. His basic training was at Fort Ord, California after which Richardson spent two years as a radar instructor at Fort Bliss, Texas. Upon his discharge at the rank of Corporal in March 1957, Richardson returned to KTRM radio, where he held down the “Dishwashers’ Serenade” shift from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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