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1958:  The Big Bopper (Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr.) performs his hit "Chantilly Lace" on stage in 1958. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Tragic Details Found In the Big Bopper's Autopsy Report
History - Science
Jiles Perry Richardson, better known as the Big Bopper, was a Texan musician who rose to stardom with his 1958 hit song “Chantilly Lace.” Tragically, his career was cut short when he and two other musicians were killed in a plane crash on February 3, 1959 — an incident later known as “The Day the Music Died.”
While no autopsy was immediately conducted, an investigation report on the crash reveals the condition of the Big Bopper’s body. It states that his head was so badly crushed that the coroner had to use fingerprints to identify him, and that his limbs were riddled with lacerations and fractures; he was also found to be carrying a number of items, including a wedding ring.
Some details at the crash site provoked additional theories about how the Big Bopper died. His body was discovered 40 feet away from the crash site, leading some to believe that he might have walked a distance before dying, and a gun found nearby sparked rumors that the musician had been shot after the crash.
In 2007, renowned forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Bass conducted an autopsy on the Big Bopper’s body at the request of the musician’s son, Jay Richardson. Aside from reiterating the findings from the investigation report, Dr. Bass confirmed that the Big Bopper died immediately after impact, putting to rest any theories about foul play.