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Music / The Big Bopper

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"Helloooo, baaaaaaby!"

Jiles Perry "J. P." Richardson Jr. (October 24, 1930 – February 3, 1959), known as The Big Bopper, is best remembered for his 1958 Signature Song "Chantilly Lace" and the fact that, together with Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, he was one of three Rock & Roll musicians who died in the tragic plane crash that went in history as "The Day The Music Died", a nickname coined by American Pie by Don McLean.

Richardson was a radio disk jockey from Texas who had given himself the on-air name "The Big Bopper" after his daily rock 'n' roll show "The Bop" and his big, burly frame. He quit the radio business in 1958 and recorded "Chantilly Lace" that year.

Of all the Rock & Roll musicians who died that day The Big Bopper is always the easiest forgotten. "Chantilly Lace" was his only hit song, making him a One-Hit Wonder, and even that song isn't as well known as Buddy Holly's hit catalogue or Ritchie Valens' "La Bamba" and "Donna". The man originally started his career as a songwriter. "White Lightning" was George Jones' first # 1 country hit in 1959. He also wrote "Running Bear" for Johnny Preston, which became a hit in 1960 and provided the background chanting.


The Big Bopper's work provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: "The Big Bopper".
  • Answer Song: None other than actress Jayne Mansfield recorded an answer song "That Makes It" to The Big Bopper's "Chantilly Lace". In "Chantilly Lace", Richardson pretends to have a flirting phone conversation with his girlfriend, the Mansfield record suggests what his girlfriend might have been saying at the other end of the line.
  • Cool Old Guy: He was 28 when he scored his first hit, which isn't particularly old, but it is for a rock star.note 
  • Advertisement:
  • Large Ham Radio: "Chantilly Lace"
  • Perpetual Poverty: "Chantilly Lace"
    What's that, honey?
    Pick you up at 8 and don't be late
    But, baby, I ain't got no money, honey
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis: He is best remembered as the third musician to be namedropped when referring to "The Day The Music Died" incident. In fact, he may be better known for dying that day than for his actual music.
  • Refrain from Assuming: "Chantilly Lace" is not called "Heeeelllloooo, Baby".
  • Rock & Roll: He is considered to be one of the 1950s rock pioneers.
  • Runaway Fiancé: "The Big Bopper Wedding", in which he gets cold feet on his wedding day.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Three Stars" by Eddie Cochran is a tribute to Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper. Cochran's voice audibly cracks at several points in the song. What's worse, the poor guy had do record several takes...and would die himself in 1960, only a year after the trio went.
    • Don McLean's "American Pie" is a Homage to the deaths of Buddy Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper.
    • Pepper Ann: In "Cold Feet" a flashback shows a pregnant young Grandma planning to leave for a flight with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, but then she goes into labor before she can leave.
    • The Simpsons:
      • In "Sideshow Bob Roberts" Bart and Lisa discover that Sideshow Bob filled in the names of deceased people to win the popular vote, including Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. A close-up of The Big Bopper's gravestone shows that his epitaph is: "Gooooodbye baby!''
      • An Itchy & Scratchy cartoon in "C.E.D'oh" has Scratchy go aboard the plane that carried Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper, who somehow turned out to be vampires too.
    • "Chantilly Lace" is used in the film True Romance.
    • Futurama, "Roswell That Ends Well": When told that they might not get back to their own time, Prof. Farnsworth laments that they'll have to "endure the horrible music of the Big Bopper, and then the terrible tragedy of his death."
    • The Venture Bros. heavily implies that Mauve Shirt supervillain Dragoon is the Big Bopper, having faked his death. (Red Mantle, his constant companion, is Buddy Holly.)
    • Animaniacs, "Meet Minerva": When Newt the Dog first sees Minerva Mink and goes berserk, he manifests a '50s suit on himself and exclaims "Ooh baby, that's what I like!" quoting "Chantilly Lace." Later Minerva does the same thing when she meets a sexy guy.
  • Singer Name Drop: He namedrops himself at the start of "Chantilly Lace" and during "The Big Bopper's Wedding", in which The Big Bopper imagines himself getting cold feet at the altar.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: His son Jay Perry Richardson, who followed in his musical footsteps as "The Big Bopper Jr.", was born two months after his death.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "Chantilly Lace" has interludes where The Big Bopper talks to his girlfriend on the phone, rather than sings.
  • Stock Sound Effects: At the start of "Chantilly Lace" a telephone rings.
  • Teenage Death Song: "Running Bear" is a re-telling of Romeo and Juliet in which young Native American lovers defy their families, their warring tribes and a rough river to be together. The river gets them, but the last line says they'll meet in the next life.