Spotlight on The Big Bopper
Ryan Dunkin as "The Big Bopper"
Born Jiles Perry Richardson Jr., October 24, 1930 in Sabine Pass, Texas. His family moved to Port Arthur when he was very young. He attended public schools, and played football in high school. Jape graduated at Beaumont High School in 1949, While he was in college, he found a job at a radio station in Beaumont, Texas. Jiles, or "Jape" as he preferred to be called, married Adrian Joy Fryon on April 18, 1952. They would have a daughter, Deborah. In 1957, while working as a deejay for KTRM in Beaumont, he coined the name "The Big Bopper" a stage name he would use for the rest of his life.In May of '57 he broadcast for six days straight, spinning 1,821 records and established a world record for continuous broadcasting. Jape had been writing some songs, and was soon discovered by Harold "Pappy" Daily. It was in 1957 when Jape recorded his most famous song, "Chantilly Lace", which became the 3rd most played song of 1958.
Throughout '58, Jape signed onto many tours to promote his record. His last tour being the Winter Dance Party of 1959. The tour was scheduled to play in remote locations throughout mid-west United States, and the mid-west was suffering a harsh winter. When the tour rolled into Clear Lake Iowa, Buddy Holly chartered a plane to fly his band to the next gig. Jape had caught the flu and he approached Buddy's bass player, Waylon Jennings, and asked for Jennings seat on the plane, so that Jape could get some rest and a doctors appointment. Waylon agreed and gave his seat to Jape, a decision that saved him, but killed the Bopper. Waylon would feel guilty for this for some time. The plane took off from Mason City Airport around 1:00 the morning of February 3rd, 1959, and crashed 8 miles after takeoff, killing Jape, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the pilot Roger Peterson. At the time of his death, Jape was 28 years old. His wife, Adrian, was pregnant with their second child. Jay P. Richardson would be born 84 days after his father's death.