BIG BOPPER EXHUMED AND CASKET PUT UP FOR SALE.
Macabre relic from '50s rock era to be sold on eBay
Big Bopper's casket to be auctioned to raise money for tribute to him.
Monday, January 05, 2009
BEAUMONT - One of rock 'n' roll's most macabre historical artifacts will go on the block when the family of the late 1950s pop star J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson auctions his coffin on eBay sometime in the next few weeks - almost 50 years after "the day the music died."
The Big Bopper's 16-gauge steel casket was exhumed in 2007 from his grave at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Beaumont so it could be moved to a more visible location with a life-size statue and historical marker.
The disinterment gave forensic experts a chance - with his family's
blessing - to examine the pop singer's remains, which had not received an autopsy after his death in rock 'n' roll's first great tragedy.
On Feb. 3, 1959, Richardson died at age 28 in the crash of a small plane in a field near Clear Lake, Iowa. The crash also killed rock stars Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens and sent a shock wave around the world.
The accident has since been immortalized as "the day the music died."
Richardson was buried a few days later in his Beaumont hometown with great fanfare, including tributes from Elvis Presley and others.
Jay Richardson, the Bopper's son, plans to sell the coffin on eBay to raise money for a musical show about his father and to keep the
Bopper's memory alive.
Born three months after the crash, Jay, who lives in Katy, saw his
father for the first time at his exhumation.
"Wouldn't it be wonderful to bring Dad back to life?" Jay, 49, said recently. "I have no personal use for the casket," he said. "When you get down to it, it is just a metal box. More important is what this particular metal box represents.
"In another 200 years, will people care about rock 'n' roll?" Jay asked. "Who knows? But why would I want to destroy it? Even though it was Dad's resting place for 48 years, it's also a unique opportunity to learn more about the early years of rock 'n' roll."
Inside the coffin, forensic examiners found the Big Bopper's well-preserved corpse, dressed in a black suit and a blue-and-gray striped tie. He wore socks but no shoes. His thick brown hair was still perfectly coiffed in his 1950s flat-top.
The 2007 autopsy found that the Bopper had died of crash-related injuries. He was reburied in a sleek new coffin donated by the Batesville Casket Co., which made the original. The old casket has been at the Texas Musicians Museum in Hillsboro.