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Dr. Bill Bass Exhumation of The Big Bopper

701 Henley Street
Knoxville, TN 37902
701 Henley Street
Knoxville, TN 37902

(800) 745-3000

  • Date(s): February 3, 2019 to February 3, 2019
  • Event Time(s): 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
  • Price: Standard ticket $60.00 Premium ticket $90.00. VIP ticket $125.00
  • Location: Knoxville Convention Center

On the 60th anniversary of “The Day the Music Died,” forensic anthropologist Dr. William M. Bass will present a lecture and slide show about his 2007 exhumation of J. P. Richardson, Jr., better known as The Big Bopper.

The lecture will be held at the Knoxville Convention Center on Sunday, February 3, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. Tickets for the lecture are on sale at and by phone at 800-745-3000. Standard tickets cost $60 plus fees. Premium tickets, which include a drink ticket and autographed poster, cost $90 plus fees. VIP tickets, which include a reception with Dr. Bass at 12:15 p.m., parking, a drink ticket and an autographed poster, cost $125 plus fees.

Richardson, who reached #6 on the Billboard chart with “Chantilly Lace,” died in a tragic plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 3, 1959. The crash also killed singers Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, and pilot Roger Peterson.

In 2007, the Richardson family chose to move The Big Bopper’s body from a grave in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Beaumont, Texas, to a different location in the same cemetery. They took that opportunity to request an examination by renowned forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Bass. They hoped Dr. Bass could answer some lingering questions about Richardson’s death.

When the plane wreck was discovered, Richardson’s body was about 100 feet beyond the fuselage, leading some to wonder if he had survived the crash. Dr. Bass x-rayed the well-preserved remains and determined that Richardson must have died on impact.

Dr. Bill Bass and his University of Tennessee students built the Anthropology Research Facility, popularly known as the Body Farm, and began work with donated bodies in 1981. The Knoxville facility is home to research on the effects of weather, water, trauma, and numerous kinds of burial, along with changes to the bodies themselves. Dr. Bass and co-author Jon Jefferson described the examination of The Big Bopper in their 2007 non-fiction book, Beyond the Body Farm.

The February 3 lecture at the Knoxville Convention Center is presented by Bone Zones, the group which schedules appearances and sells autographed books and memorabilia for Dr. Bass. Radio personality Frank Murphy of 93.1 WNOX will serve as emcee and will facilitate a question and answer period.

To learn more about Dr. Bass and his upcoming events, visit

Dr. Bill Bass Exhumation of The Big Bopper