The Big Bopper
Writer(s): J.P. Richardson (see lyrics here)
First Charted: August 4, 1958
Peak: 6 US, 4 CB, 4 HR, 3 RB, 12 UK, 2 CN, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 11.0 video, 24.37 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
The Big Bopper was born Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr. in 1930 in Texas. The singer/songwriter and guitarist tragically died in an airplane crash in 1959 along with other rock and roll pioneers Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. In his short life, he worked as a radio disc jockey (where he picked up the nickname “The Big Bopper”) and served a stint in the Army before launching his career as a songwriter and eventually singer.
He only charted three times as a singer on the Billboard Hot 100 – all in 1958 – with “Chantilly Lace” (#6), “Big Bopper’s Wedding” (#38), and “Little Red Riding Hood” (#72). He is credited with creating the first music video, something he did for all three of his chart hits. He also wrote “White Lightning,” which was George Jones’ first #1 country hit, and “Running Bear,” a #1 pop hit for Johnny Preston. Still, the Big Bopper is most associated with “Chantilly Lace.”
The song, which used the same chord progression as Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen,” WK was originally called “That’s What I Like.” SF It was originally released as the B-side for “The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor,” a parody of Sheb Wooley’s “The Purple People Eater” and David Seville’s “Witch Doctor.” WK DJs preferred the flip side and “Chantilly Lace” became the third most played song of 1958. WB
Richardson’s background as a DJ played into the song’s success. The intro of the song had him announcing, in typical DJ patter, “this is the Big Bopper speakin’.” The technique helped people closely identify the song with him and made it easier for listeners to ask for the song at record stores. SF
First posted 10/30/2022.