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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, Rovi
full bio

Comments

Such relaxing music!
Woooo!!!! Yeah
I cant even understand the words!!!I love it!!!
sdbolts7601
The Rolas From Ritchie Valens There Firme Rest In Peace G OLDIES POR VIDA
its the best song i love of so much
i love this song so much
I'm ten to and I still listin to richie to we have so much in comen
I will bring back Odis one day and Singh la Bamba I'm only ten
You will be kissed by the love of your life on the least Friday however if you don't post this on 2 songs you will die
Such a talented brother! He would have been a big star if he had not been killed! He was a great writer and a serious musician.
Richard had soul
noefsanchez1 1
One day i be next Mexican rock roll
its funny how we don't have a MEXICAN pop singer here in America, WE NEED ONE! at least. most are from other countries or from PR it seems like the ones that have tried like Richie Valens and Selena get taken away from us too soon :(
luv it sooo much like when is it
I
amprastio
Can't beat the classics you inspired me to become a musician Ritchie
I NEVER knew what they were saying until now Lol :-)
imy ritchie valens you made some great music
All I can think of doing ...
His music is great.
Ritchie is one of my favs , may he rest in peace n by the way I saw his grave n brought him flowers:)
Viva Ritchie por Siempre.
georgia867
Viva Ritchie:). first Latino to rock fue Mexicano.
juustemilyy
One of the best songs Ritchie did. May he rest in peace
randomnessbl o g 3
ooh! My head
My favorite song from Ritchie Valens is In A Turkish Town!
Love the song We Belong Together and I'm a girl and I'm 15.
THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED'- FEB 3RD
R.I.P
How times have changed?!? In the 1950s, many artists with ethnic surnames would be told to change them perhaps to more of an Anglo tone; today, afluent artists, like Christina Aguilera, with ethnic surnames represent money-making . Christina is bomb!
marvins39
rjd06: Ritchie valens was an unbelievable talent whose life was cut short. i find it interesting that whenever you make a comment, it's negative. i guess that says more about you than Ritchie.
Thats the way ritchie
Real music puro oldies
I'm 10 yrs old and I listin to richie
Ritchie will always be remember as the king of rock and roll
Simonex3
lthill9
17 is too young to die. I cried so much when I read his life/death story.
I love his songs it just so sad that he died in a plane crash ; ( sucks really
awkwardllama y a y
RIP Ritchie <3
:,( the day music died. God knows how many more songs he had yet to record. De paisano a paisano descansa en paz ritchie.
Ritchie I miss you I'm your biggest fan I always listen to your music and I'm 14 in 2014 your the greatest <3
Love Him c:
Omg love himmm
Im so glad he was the first person I heard as I turned on the radio ^_^ R.I.P. Ritchie
RjD06, im not hearing the nasally quality on the recordings of him that I have. But if your hearing that, I would say that your right in thinking that its cuz the recordings are old. Modern recordings are light years away from the way things were recorded back then. But even so,you can hear how great of a guitarist Ritchie was even in that raw form, not to mention his songwriting! The recordings are ancient but his music is TIMELESS! Miss you brother!
We miss u RITCHIE R.I.P
Richieeeeeee !
i'm not sure I'm not hating on his music but his voice sounds kinda...weir d ? Like nasally almost? Dunno it that's just because the recordings are old
R.I.P Ritchie valens may you live in our hearts. ❤��
Love this song, can't understand what he's saying. But love it.
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