The Full Wiki

More info on Running Bear

Running Bear: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Running Bear"

Running Bear by Johnny Preston
Single by Johnny Preston
Length 2:39
Label Mercury Records
Writer(s) J. P. Richardson
Producer Bill Hall
Audio sample
file info · help

"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, and 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, 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.


"Running Bear" tells the story of Running Bear, a "young Indian brave", and Little White Dove, an "Indian maid". The two are in love but are separated by two factors:

  • Their tribes' hatred of each other. Each hailed from one of the two tribes, which were at war with each other ("Their tribes fought with each other / So their love could never be.")
  • A raging river, which also serves as a metaphor for their other separation.

The two, desiring to be together despite their obstacles and the risks for navigating the river, dive into the raging river to unite. After sharing a passionate kiss, they are pulled down by the swift current and drown. The lyrics tell the rest: "Now they'll always be together / In their happy hunting ground."

Cover versions

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Sonny James enjoyed an unprecidented streak of success with his commercially released singles, many of them covers of previous pop hits. One of his 16 consecutive No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart was a cover version of "Running Bear."

Released in April 1969, "Running Bear" topped the Hot Country Singles chart in mid-June and spent three weeks at No. 1. The song soon became one of James' most popular recordings of his career.


Preceded by
"El Paso" by Marty Robbins
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Johnny Preston version)
January 12, 1960 – February 1, 1960 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Teen Angel" by Mark Dinning
Preceded by
"Poor Me " by Adam Faith
UK number-one single (Johnny Preston version)
17 March 1960 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"My Old Man's a Dustman" by Lonnie Donegan
Preceded by
"Singing My Song" by Tammy Wynette
Billboard Hot Country Singles number-one single (Sonny James version)
June 14, 1969 – June 28, 1969
Succeeded by
"Statue of a Fool" by Jack Greene
Preceded by
"Rings of Gold" by Dottie West and Don Gibson
RPM Country Tracks number-one single (Sonny James version)
June 14, 1969
Succeeded by
"The Days of Sand and Shovels" by Waylon Jennings


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address