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Home > Hits Menu > Hits List > "RUNNING BEAR" by JOHNNY PRESTON > Summary
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Hit Month (Australia): 1960
Song Author: J. P. Richardson
Year Recorded: 1959
"Running Bear"

Single by Johnny Preston
B-side "My Heart Knows"
Released 1959
Genre Rock 'N' Roll
Length 2:39
Label Mercury Records
Writer(s) J. P. Richardson
Producer Bill Hall

"Running Bear" is a song written by J. P. Richardson (aka The Big Bopper) sung most famously by Johnny Preston in 1959.

Preston first sang the song in 1959 with background vocals by Richardson and George Jones, who do the Indian chanting of "UGO UGO" during the three verses, as well as the Indian war cries.

It was number one for three weeks in January 1960 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. The song also reached number one in the UK in 1960.

Richardson was a friend of Preston and offered "Running Bear" to him after hearing him perform in a club.

Preston recorded the song at the Gold Star Studios in Houston, Texas in 1958.

The session's producer was Bill Hall with Preston on vocals and Link Davis on saxophone. Richardson, Hall, and Jones performed the song's Indian chants.

Preston was signed to Mercury Records, and "Running Bear" was released in August 1959, seven months after Richardson's death in the plane crash that also killed Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Sonny James enjoyed an unprecedented streak of success with his commercially released singles, many of them covers of previous pop hits.

Preston died of heart failure in Beaumont, Texas on Friday 4 March 2011, at the age of 71