Johnny Preston, R.I.P.

Johnny Preston Courville, who sang the No. 1 hit “Running Bear” and a protege of the Big Bopper, died Friday at the age of 71. Courville hit it big in 1960 with “Running Bear,” about a brave whose girlfriend lived on the opposite bank of a river. The novelty hit was written by J.P. Richardson, otherwise known as the Big Bopper.

As Johnny Preston, he would re-enter the Top 10 with a followup, “Cradle Of Love.” Courville lived all of his life in and around Port Arthur, Texas, and was a popular figure in that area’s rock revival shows. He was always a humble, self-effacing dude and was eternally grateful for his short-lived shot at the big time.

Story on Johnny Preston from KFDM-TV in Beaumont, Texas

MP3: “Running Bear”

MP3: “Cradle Of Love”

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