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The Big Bopper's Casket for Sale

The following is an article from the 2 January 2009 posting of

The Big Bopper

Keep an eye on eBay: the Big Bopper’s family is planning to auction the late rock ‘n’ roller’s casket in the next few weeks.

According to the Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson’s casket, made of 16-gauge steel, was exhumed last year so the singer’s remains could be moved to a more visible location with a statue and historic marker. The Big Bopper, once a Texas DJ, was killed in the plane crash that also took the lives of Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens near Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 3, 1959, a day since called “the day the music died.” He was 28, and had just had his first major hit, “Chantilly Lace.” He was also the songwriter of George Jones’ “White Lightning” and Johnny Preston’s “Running Bear.”

After the casket was removed, the “Chantilly Lace” singer’s remains were exhumed — an autopsy showed that he did, indeed, die of crash-related injuries — and placed in a new casket. The old one, according to the Enterprise, has been in public display at the Texas Musicians Museum in Hillsboro, Texas, since last year.

It’s apparently in good condition, with just some minor rust spots and a white lime stain where water rose against, but did not enter, the casket. (Indeed, Richardson’s body was said to have stayed in excellent condition.)

Jay Richardson, the singer’s son (born three months after his father’s death), told the paper he had “no personal use” for the casket.

“When you get down to it, it is just a metal box,” he said.

But it could be worth some money, says Texas Musicians Museum founder Tom Kreason.

“Certainly there’ll be some distaste, but I think this is a piece of history that is very special,” he told the Enterprise.

And if it doesn’t sell? “We’ve made a point about the historical value of J.P. Richardson.”