John Preston Courville was born in Port Arthur, Texas, in August 1939 and formed a rock ‘n’ roll group called The Shades while at high school.
He was signed to Mercury as a solo artist on the advice of the Big Bopper (real name Jiles Perry Richardson), who wrote and produced Running Bear for Preston (reportedly inspired by a commercial for Dove soap).
The release of the record was postponed for six months after Richardson’s death (in the same plane crash that killed Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens) in February 1959, but despite its huge success, Preston had few further hits.
These included the countryish Cradle of Love; Feel so Fine (a retitled remake of Shirley and Lee’s 1955 hit I Feel so Good), and a reworking of Little Willie John‘s 1959 R&B hit Leave My Kitten Alone (1961).
In 1962 Preston retired from the music business.
He underwent coronary artery bypass surgery in 2010 and died of heart failure on 4 March 2011, at the age of 71.