J. P. Richardson, who recorded under the name The Big Bopper, was killed in the same plane crash that took the lives of Richie Valens and Buddy Holly on February 3, 1959. He is best remembered for the hit “Chantilly Lace,” which reached number six on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 during 1958.
He wrote and produced a single for Johnny Preston, who had organized a band in high school. The Shades became popular in parts of Texas and resulted in him coming to the attention of Richardson. “Running Bear,” the story of Little Dove and Running Bear was recorded in late 1958 but not released until the fall of 1959 due to Richardson’s death.
“Running Bear” is the answer to the trivia question; what was the first song to reach the Billboard Hot 100 (October 12), fall out of the chart; re-enter (November 12) and go all the way to number one. It would reach number one January 16, 1960 and remain at the top for three weeks. It was a simple love song and very typical of many of the hits of the early 1960’s.
Preston would never have a another chart hit after 1961 but he grabbed the brass ring once, which is more than most artists can say.