b. John Preston Courville, 18 August 1939, Port Arthur, Texas, USA, d. 4 March 2011, Beaumont, Texas, USA. Pop ballad and rock singer Johnny Preston first performed in the Lamar University (Beaumont, Texas) group the Shades in 1957, and was brought to the attention of Mercury Records by disc jockey and singer the Big Bopper (Jape Richardson). Among the tracks Richardson wrote and produced for him was the novelty ‘Running Bear,’ a sad tale of Native American love gone wrong. The record took four months to chart stateside but it then went on to became a chart-topper in the US and UK during 1959-1960 (after Richardson’s tragic death in the plane crash with Buddy Holly). Despite a disastrous UK tour (cut three weeks short due to poor houses), he had transatlantic Top 20 successes with the follow-ups ‘Cradle of Love’ and a revival of Shirley & Lee’s ‘Feel So Fine.’ He later recorded for Imperial Records, TCF Hall (including ‘Running Bear ’65’), ABC Records and Hallway, but never graced the charts again. In later life Preston continued to tour and perform from his home base near Dallas, but he suffered from heart problems and underwent heart bypass surgery in 2010. Johnny Preston died on 4 March 2011 in Beaumont, Texas; he was 71 years of age.Portions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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