About this Blog

"In the future everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes." So said the bleached-out, late lamented artist Andy Warhol. Having lived and worked in New York City, Warhol came to fully grasp the hold celebrity has on us. In this very famous sentence, he meant to point out that in a culture fixated on fame, many people will suddenly flash brightly onto the public screen, then--poof--will just as quickly disappear from public view--like shooting stars. Other individuals derive their celebrity from one stellar accomplishment (one hit song, one iconic role, etc.) that they never again match.

This blog is devoted to the one part of our celebrity culture that no one has written much about: temporary/one-shot celebrities.

The pace of modern life has quickened, and now we hear people speaking of someone's 15 seconds of fame. These "celebrities with a lower-case c" who will appear in this blog sometimes come to us from the world of entertainment, sometimes from the world of news. All are fascinating.

The need of our communications media for a continual stream of new material assures that we will have no end of colorful people who go quickly, where celebrity is concerned, from zero to hero (or villain) and back to zero. Now you see 'em, now you don't. What a crazy world, eh?

Temporary celebrities coming from the world of entertainment include one-hit recording artists; TV and movie icons who, although they might have had a great many accomplishments in their career, are remembered for one big role; standouts of reality TV; sports figures remembered for one remarkable accomplishment; and people whose celebrity came from one big role in a commercial or print ad.

News-based temporary celebrities come in many forms: mass/serial killers, other murderers of special note, sex-crime offenders, disgraced figures of government/military/business/media/religion, spies/traitors, hoaxers, femmes/hommes fatale, heroes, whistle blowers, inventors/innovators, and victims.

Celebrity Blogsburg will consider each category in turn.

Friday, January 23, 2009

One-hit wonder Jiles Perry Richardson

To the intense delight of those of us who were teenagers in the 1950s, out of nowhere came the deep intonations of someone called The Big Bopper, half saying, half singing, "Helllll-ooooooooh, baby......you know what I like!!" The song, which moved near the top of the charts in 1957, was Chantilly Lace, and it came complete with a pretty face, and a pony tail hangin' down, etc. The 240-pound Bopper was a DJ in Beaumont, Texas, who had decided to grab a piece of the rock and roll pie for himself.

Richardson's first success as a song writer had been with Running Bear, recorded by Johnny Preston, accompanied by the faux-Indian chanting of Richardson himself. Thus emboldened, he himself performed his next novelty song, which became his one big hit. More than likely he would have succeeded again with a new novelty number, but his life was cut short on February 2, 1959, in the plane crash that also killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and their pilot. Singer Waylon Jennings was scheduled to be on the plane, but The Bopper, who was not feeling well, took his place at the last minute. The crash was commemorated in the 1970s by Don McLean, who wrote and performed the song American Pie. Today, his son, billed as The Big Bopper Jr., carries on the family tradition via CD.

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