Saturday, March 05, 2011

Johnny Preston RIP

Johnny Preston, one of the biggest hit makers of 1960 with smash hits such as Running Bear and Cradle of Love, has died aged 71. Born in Port Arthur, Texas, Johnny formed a local rock and roll band and was discovered by J P Richardson, the Big Bopper, who offered him a song he had written called Running Bear. Several months after the Big Bopper's death in the plane crash that also killed Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, Johnny's record, released on Mercury, became a huge hit, reaching number one in the US and the UK. The follow up Cradle of Love was also smash hit, reaching number two in the UK. Further singles such as Feel So Fine, Leave My Kitten Alone, Big Chief Heartbreak and Free Me were all of a high quality but were less successful.
Johnny toured the UK on a package tour in 1960 with Conway Twitty and Freddy Cannon and I saw him again on the Legends of Rock and Roll show at Wembley Arena in 1997 when he appeared alongside Little Richard, Lloyd Price, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Eva, Duane Eddy, Chris Montez and Bobby Vee.
Johnny's life, along with those of many other Gulf Coast artists, is featured on a display at the Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur (see photo).
Here's Johnny's obituary in today's Guardian


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