The Big Bopper's "Chantilly Lace" 45 RPM

Behind the music

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by Tom Wancho, Exhibit Planner

Hello, Baby!

That one phrase is all it takes for the tune to J. P. Richardson's "Chantilly Lace" to start playing in my head. Watching a performance of "Chantilly Lace,” like this one on American Bandstand in 1958, paints a vivid picture of this dynamic performer.

More commonly known as the “Big Bopper,” a moniker he adopted as a disc jockey at KTRM in his hometown of Beaumont, Texas, Richardson pioneered the music video industry. In 1958 he recorded videos for each of his three songs, “Chantilly Lace,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” and “Big Bopper’s Wedding.” According to an article in Rockin’ 50s magazine, Richardson believed that music videos were the future of how music would be seen and heard. He is even credited with the first use of the term "music video" in a January 1959 interview. He planned to begin a production company that would make music videos for television and manufacture jukeboxes that played music videos instead of 45 RPMs. 

Richardson was a proficient songwriter as well, writing for fellow Texans George Jones (“White Lightnin'”) and Johnny Preston (“Running Bear”); both songs became number one hits in 1959.  

The popularity of “Chantilly Lace” gave Richardson the opportunity to tour with other musicians on what was called the Winter Dance Party. On February 2, 1959, the Big Bopper closed the show with "Chantilly Lace" at a performance in Clear Lake, Iowa. In the wee hours of the morning on February 3, Richardson boarded a chartered plane with fellow rockers Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. Holly’s bandmate, Waylon Jennings, surrendered his seat to Richardson who was sick with the flu. The plane crashed not long after takeoff due to bad weather, taking the lives of all three singers and their pilot.

The Big Bopper's legacy lives on in his infectious music.

There ain't nothing in the world like a big eyed girl

That makes me act so funny, make me spend my money

Make me feel real loose like a long necked goose

Like a girl, oh baby that's what I like


 

See this and other artifacts on the Interactive Texas Map

The Big Bopper's "Chantilly Lace" 45 RPM Artifact from Beaumont, Texas
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