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Ritchie Valens

The first Hispanic rock star, Ritchie Valens will forever be known as one of the two musicians (along with the Big Bopper) who perished with Buddy Holly in 1959, when their private plane crashed in the midst of a Midwest tour. At the time, Valens had only recently established himself as one of the most promising young talents in rock & roll, just barely missing the top of the charts with "Donna," a number two hit, and pioneering a blend of rock and Latin music with the single's almost equally popular flip side, "La Bamba." Like many rock stars who died prematurely, it's difficult to assess his unrealized potential; he was only 17 at the time of his death, and had just barely begun to make records. Nevertheless, Valens' music has endured for decades.

Ricardo Esteban Valenzuela Reyes was raised in a Mexican-American household in the San Fernando Valley. He played several instruments as a child and eventually devoted most of his focus to the guitar, learning a right-hand version of the guitar despite his own left-handedness. Valens' musical influences were diverse, running the gamut from Little Richard and rockabilly to traditional Mexican genres like mariachi, and his talent on the guitar earned him a spot in a local band, the Silhouettes, when he was 16. Valens eventually became the band's frontman. While playing at a local movie theater in 1958, he was discovered by producer Bob Keane, who signed Valens to his Del-Fi label and convinced him to shorten his surname to "Valens," claiming the abbreviated version had broader appeal than "Valenzuela." Under Keane's wing, Valens entered a Los Angeles recording studio in July and emerged with "Come on Let's Go," which climbed to number 42 on the national charts.

By the end of 1958, Valens had quit high school in order to focus on his career, which had skyrocketed after his second single, "Donna," climbed to number two. Also enjoying a good amount of popularity was the single's innovative flip side, "La Bamba," a rocked-up Mexican folk song performed entirely in Spanish. "La Bamba" featured some fierce guitar work, as well as the thick sound of the Danelectro bass, which gave the instrument more electric presence than it had previously enjoyed on any rock & roll disc. Valens was subsequently hailed as one of rock & roll's teen idols, and he hit road in early 1959 alongside Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, Dion & the Belmonts, and Frankie Sardo.

Billed as "the Winter Dance Party," the tour was originally scheduled to hit 24 Midwestern cities over the course of three weeks. The musicians all shared a single bus, whose heater broke several days into the tour, worsening the long drives between each show. By the time the Winter Dance Party rolled into Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 2, Buddy Holly had grown tired of the chilly conditions and decided to book a plane in order to fly to the show's next stop. After that evening's show at the Surf Ballroom, Holly boarded the plane along with Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. The aircraft crashed several minutes after takeoff, though, instantly killing pilot Roger Peterson along with all three of his passengers. Ritchie Valens was 17 years old.

Valens only had about two albums' worth of material in the can, as well as some lo-fi live tapes of a gig at a local junior high, before his death; undoubtedly, some (or many) of these were demos or unfinished tracks. Other singers emulated Valens' Mexican-American brand of rock in the following years, most notably Chan Romero (originator of "Hippy Hippy Shake," who also recorded for Bob Keane's Del-Fi label and used some of the same musicians who had backed Valens) and Chris Montez. In the 1980s and 1990s, the L.A.-based Latino rock band Los Lobos were often cited for reflecting Valens' influence, and groups like Los Lonely Boys carried the torch of Chicano rock into the 21st century. Meanwhile, the 1987 film La Bamba (whose soundtrack heavily featured Los Lobos) gave his story a glossy Hollywood makeover, exposing Valens' legacy to millions even as it introduced the usual distortions and factual errors in its dramatization of his brief life. ~ Richie Unterberger & Andrew Leahey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Best Of Ritchie Valens

1. La Bamba

2. That's My Little Suzie

3. Hurry Up

4. Donna

5. Malaguena

6. Ooh! My Head

7. Bony Moronie

8. Little Girl

9. We Belong Together

10. Cry Cry Cry

11. Ritchie's Blues

12. Bluebirds Over The Mountain

13. Paddi-Wack Song

14. Rockin' All Night

15. Framed

16. Hi-Tone

17. Big Baby Blues

18. Stay Beside Me

19. Dooby Dooby Wah

20. Fast Freight

21. In Aturkish Town

22. Come On Let's Go

x

Track List: Ritchie Valens

1. That's My Little Suzie

2. In A Turkish Town

3. Come On, Let's Go

4. Donna (Single Version)

5. Boney Maronie

6. Ooh! My Head

7. La Bamba

8. Bluebirds Over The Mountain

9. Hi-Tone

10. Framed

11. We Belong Together

12. Dooby Dooby Wah

x

Track List: 23 Exitos

1. Bony Moronie

3. Little Girl

8. Cry Cry Cry

9. Fast Freight

10. Stay Beside Me

12. Paddi-Wack Song

15. Ritchie's Blues

17. Rockin' All Night

22. Big Baby Blues

Comments

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Yes a beautiful song. So much behind this song though, I thought this was a true life love story. However, it wasn't, and the song was written by one of his friends in the group The Silhouettes. It was written for another girl, and Ritchie changed the name and made it a hit. Donna had a boyfriend and was embarrassed to be seen with Ritchie. She came from a racist background, and she even stated that she didn't love nor like Ritchie in the way he liked her, but she let him kiss her, I guess to se
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This Richey""is A F**k"n jammer o ya!!!!!..
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I always use to listen to this when I was smaller and it was my favorite song
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love it
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I'm mexican inlove this music Cus im a romantic man.i neve forgot the movie ️LA baba .im almos cry went i see the movie.I LOVE YOU MUSIC RICHI
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bryson000
I WISH THAT I COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND SAVE THE TRIO THAT DIED IN THAT HORRIFYING PLANE CRASH! follow me if you agree!
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I love the movie La Bamba
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RIP Ritche Valens Forever��
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dragonlady60 8 8
LA BAMBA....BES T MOVIE RIP RITCHIE XOXO
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My dad's movie
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What could have been R.l.P
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Richie tu eres mi favorito you are my #1 Music
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Elbotecito
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I was 13 years old when I heard la bamba for the first time I will never forget that day I was with my girlfriend she was my first love that happened in the bronx n.y. 1959 that memory will stay with me till I die.
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I'm 38 and grew up listening to 50s 60s rock n roll when I was a kid Ritchie Valens & Buddy Holly are my favorites. I have a Original Pressing of Ritchie V show he did at his High school. I also have a Original Pressing of Buddy Holly's The Buddy Holly Story from the late 50's. Such great talent
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I was introduced to him by my mom when I was a little girl. She was born in the 50's era, and the music was great. I love Ritchie Valens so much. I had to go pay my respects by visiting his grave site. I miss him, his life story is so touching. I always cry. RIP my love
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Hey ��������
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Love your song
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shinn.donna
The plate on my 55 T-bird is "Hi Tone" to honor RV. I am a Donna so I grew up with his songs and great music. I wear black and pink every February 3rd. Miss you, Richie.
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Linda I I'll never know
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I'M JUST A KID FROM PACOIMA... R.I.P RICHIE VALENS... PACAS GRATIS!!!
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died way too young
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Ikr!!!!! So sad he died so young!!!!! :-(
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Awesome song!
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Orale carnales buena musico
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Richie Valens is a genius
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LA BAMBA IS AWESOME!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
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La Bamba Film Is Tight The Ending F**ked Me Up...
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mceezblaze
Great music lives on
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Classic!
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I love his music and my fave is LA BAMBA
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Soy MEXICANO y me encanta este genero y más cuando la canta este g**y con madre
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Ijookbikmumn j M a l i k j . m o m said that
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musicalsunsh i n e 7
La la la la bama !!!!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! !
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LA BAMBA!!!
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<3
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Awesome songs including LA gamba
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Iphone iphone iphone iphone iphone blue
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Nice voice, but this guy sucks.
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His songs are good
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Come on let's go my auintes fave song before she died r i p
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Hold that Thought Am pm Calling
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Damm that was some oldie Throwing
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Rip you and the rest singers should have not been on that plane rip to all of you.
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Una historia,en verdad muy bonita, dejó bonitos recuerdos.
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I watched you so so much and I love it and you
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So so tragic to lose such an icon in the early stages of rock n roll !!!
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Hmmmm...what could have been!
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i like your song�� u die so young��
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Who sings "my old mans a dustman"
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