Rock ‘n’ roll’s most macabre historical artifact will go on the block when the family of the late 1950s pop star J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson auctions his casket 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 last year from his original grave at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Beaumont so it could be moved to a more visible location with a life-sized statue and historic marker. The disinterment also offered forensic experts a chance — with his family’s blessing — to examine the pop singer’s unautopsied remains 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, that also killed 1950s 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 empty casket 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, never met his father in life — but saw him for the first time at his exhumation.