J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson

Posted in Forest Lawn Memorial Park (TX) with tags , , on December 28, 2020 by Cade

bopper1October 24, 1930 – February 3, 1959

“Hellooo Baby!”

Celebrity and tragedy often go hand in hand. Sometimes, the former leads to the latter. And sometimes, the latter solidifies the former.

Jiles Perry “J.P.” Richardson was a radio personality in East Texas whose biggest claim-to-fame by the time he was 26 was successfully pulling off a 5-day on-air marathon broadcast that found him spinning some 1,821 consecutive records. Known to his audience as “The Big Bopper,” Richardson also dabbled in songwriting. His songs caught the ear of Mercury records and, in 1958, Bopper’s novelty song “Chantilly Lace” started steadily climbing the charts.

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Eddie Kendricks

Posted in Elmwood Cemetery with tags , , , on December 21, 2020 by Cade

kendricks1December 17, 1939 – October 5, 1992

Eddie James Kendrick grew up singing in church in his native Alabama. Through the church choir, he met a young man named Paul Williams and the two quickly formed a doo-wop group called The Cavaliers. They moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1957 and, shortly thereafter, to Detroit where they enjoyed some local success rebranded as The Primes1. In 1961, The Primes broke up, but Kendricks (as he was now calling himself) and Williams joined another group called The Elgins. The Elgins would soon become The Temptations.

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Gene Tierney

Posted in Glenwood Cemetery with tags , on December 14, 2020 by Cade

November 19, 1920 – November 6, 1991

In Hollywood during the 1940s, sensational good looks could get you pretty far; almost as far as raw talent alone. Fortunately for Gene Tierney, she had both. Born in New York and raised in high society Connecticut, a chance trip to California as a teen and a visit to the famous Warner Bros. film studios instantly grabbed young Gene’s attention. She knew from that moment she wanted to be an actor. Acting classes in New York City led to stage appearances and by the time she was 20, she had already made a critical splash on Broadway – the “legitimate theatre” which her father all but demanded she exclusively strive for. From that point, it was an easy jump to Hollywood where – “legitimate” or not – a film career awaited.

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Howard Hughes

Posted in Glenwood Cemetery with tags on December 7, 2020 by Cade

December 24, 1905 – April 5, 1976

Hoo boy. Settle in.

Howard Hughes Jr. was a lot of things. I mean, a LOT of things.

Howard Hughes was a businessman. At the age of 18, young Howard inherited the Hughes Tool Company when his father died. Hughes would use the Tool Company to foray into many successful ventures over the course of his lifetime ranging from real estate to medical research.

Howard Hughes was a film producer. In the 1940s, he gained control of RKO Pictures (as well as its subsidiaries). Under his watch, RKO produced early classic films like Hell’s Angels, The Front Page and the original Scarface. At RKO, Hughes also weeded out the “communists” just for good measure.

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Selena

Posted in Seaside Memorial Park with tags , on November 30, 2020 by Cade

selena1
April 16, 1971 – March 31, 1995

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, known simply as Selena, was a hugely successful American Latin musician and singer. Commonly referred to as “The Queen of Tejano” – the genre of music she would come to dominate and redefine – Selena was the best-selling Latin artist of the 1990’s. From a young age, she performed with her family all around her native South Texas, eventually landing a recording contract with EMI Latin.

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Glen Campbell

Posted in Campbell's Cemetery with tags , , , , , on November 23, 2020 by Cade

April 22, 1936 – August 8, 2017

Glen Campbell was not the first “Rhinestone Cowboy,” but he’s arguably the most famous. At least, that’s what you might suspect judging him solely by his biggest hit.

Despite personally resonating with the titular character in the chart-topping 1975 song, Campbell was so much more than a sequined journeyman waiting for his turn in the spotlight.

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Minnie Pearl

Posted in Mt. Hope Cemetery (TN) with tags , , on November 16, 2020 by Cade

October 25, 1912 – March 4, 1996

All together now: “How-DEEE!”

The stage of the Grand Ole Opry is hallowed ground. Whether it was the historic stage of the famed Ryman Auditorium, or the newfangled stage at the modern Opry House, setting foot upon it can be life-changing for anyone with the fortune to do so. It transforms performers. None more literally than a young comedienne named Sarah Colley, who stepped onto the Opry stage and became…Minnie Pearl.

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Andrew Johnson

Posted in Andrew Johnson National Cemetery with tags , on November 9, 2020 by Cade

December 29, 1808 – July 31, 1875

Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States. Becoming President following Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and preceding Grant’s administration, Johnson was a sort of “historical stop-gap” that was widely regarded as – at best – ineffectual. The country was a mess thanks to the Civil War and Johnson’s attempts at a quick reconstruction were mostly bungled. He wanted the southern states back in the union quickly. He didn’t care if they adopted laws and codes that protected the now-freed former slaves or not. Congress strongly disagreed. Johnson vetoed any bill they put forward. They impeached him. Very little got done. Continue reading

Patsy Cline

Posted in Shenandoah Memorial Park with tags , , on November 2, 2020 by Cade

cline1September 8, 1932 – March 5, 1963

If country music has official royalty, Patsy Cline was its first queen.

Virginia Patterson Hensley knew she wanted to be a singer from the very beginning. Though she worked odd jobs in her Virginia hometown out of a need to help her family, it wasn’t long until she was aiming higher and soliciting auditions wherever and whenever she could. Following a brief illness at the age of 15 that affected her throat…and therefore her voice, Ginny realized quickly that she had been given a gift. Local radio shows and a stint with a regional country band followed and soon, her gift was being shared on television and larger radio markets.

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Dudley Moore

Posted in Hillside Cemetery (Scotch Plains) with tags , , , on October 26, 2020 by Cade

moored1April 19, 1935 – March 27, 2002

What Dudley Moore lacked in stature, he more than made up for in talent. The diminutive English actor/comedian was also a brilliant musician who learned to play organ and piano at a young age. His musical ability led to scholarships and eventually to Oxford, where he fell in love with jazz…and comedy.

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