Thursday, March 08, 2007

UPDATE! Big Bopper Likely Died Instantly

This is the 2nd and most likely final part of my post on the untimely and unfortunate demise of the Big Bopper in 1959. He's gone, but will never be forgotten because his music lives least in the hearts of those of us that remember him like it was just yesterday when we bought our 45 RPMs...

This is from today's Houston Chronicle......

Exam: 'Big Bopper' likely died instantly in '59 crash

J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson suffered massive fractures and likely
died immediately in the 1959 plane crash that also killed early rock
'n' rollers Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, a forensic anthropologist
said today after exhuming the body.

The performer's son, Jay Richardson, hired Dr. Bill Bass, a well-known
forensic anthropologist at the University of Tennessee, to look at the
remains in Beaumont.

There have been rumors a gun might have been fired on board the plane
and that the Big Bopper might have survived the crash and died trying
to get help.

Bass took X-rays of the body and found nothing today to support those

"There was no indication of foul play," Bass said in a telephone
interview from Beaumont. "There are fractures from head to toe. Massive
fractures. ... (He) died immediately. He didn't crawl away. He didn't
walk away from the plane."

The rock 'n' roll stars' plane crashed after taking off from Mason
City, Iowa, on Feb. 3, 1959 — a tragedy memorialized as "the day the
music died" in Don McLean's song American Pie.

Jay Richardson, who performs in tribute shows as "The Big Bopper Jr.,"
didn't know his father, who gained fame with the hit Chantilly Lace.
His mother was pregnant with him when his father died.

The Civil Aeronautics Board determined pilot error was the cause of the
crash. A gun that belonged to Holly was found at the crash site,
fueling rumors that the pilot was shot, but no one has ever proved a
gun was fired during the flight.

Richardson watched Bass open the coffin today and observed his
examination. He said he was pleased with the findings because it proved
the investigators "knew what they were talking about 48 years ago."

"I was hoping to put the rumors to rest," he said.

Bass and Richardson were surprised to find the body preserved enough to
be recognizable.

"Dad still amazes me 48 years after his death, that he was in
remarkable shape," Richardson said. "I surprised myself. I handled it
better than I thought I would."

The body was reburied in the cemetery but in a different plot where
there will be room for a graveside statue to be installed later.

Bass, 78, is a pioneer in his field and has worked on such famous cases
as confirming the identity of the Lindbergh baby that was kidnapped in
1932 and murdered.

Bass founded the University of Tennessee's Body Farm, which is formally
called the Anthropological Research Facility, to gather data on the
rate of decay of hundreds of donated corpses and help police
investigators determine time of death.

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