Singer Johnny Preston

Celebrities, Celebrity Q&A, People
on June 19, 2005

Who sang the old country song Running Bear?
—Dianna S., Nevada

The song, written by J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, was a hit for Johnny Preston in 1959. The song is available on several collections, such as Feel So Fine and Running Bear. "The Big Bopper was a disc jockey in my hometown and he gave me the song to record," says Preston, a native of Port Arthur, Texas, (pop. 57,755). "I was doing more rhythm and blues and rock and roll back then, and this was a little different, but he was so sure it was a hit and it was an opportunity to record. And what do you know? Right out of the box, first record I did was a multi-million seller." Preston, now 65, lives near Beaumont, Texas, with Sharon, his wife of 46 years. He has five children and 13 grandchildren, and they all live within 50 miles of each other. This year he's touring Australia and Europe with Brian Hyland, Chris Montez and Bobby Vee. "It's ‘60s music. A lot of the kids call it geezer rock," he says, laughing.