Ritchie Valens
Ritchie Valens

Ritchie Valens

About Ritchie Valens

Born Richard Valenzuela, rocker Ritchie Valens was the first Latino rock star whose impact on both Chicano music and rock ’n’ roll is still being felt more than 60 years after his untimely death.

∙ As a 17-year-old singer, his first big break came when Del-Fi Records founder Bob Keane recorded Valens’ self-penned rockabilly rave-up “Come On, Let’s Go” in 1958.
∙ His doo-wop-influenced ballad “Donna,” written about real-life girlfriend Donna Ludwig, reached No. 2 on the Pop chart in 1959, becoming the biggest hit of his career.
∙ The turbocharged version of the Mexican folk song “La Bamba” cemented Valens’ legacy as a Chicano rock pioneer, as well as providing the title for the hit 1987 biopic.
∙ Valens was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 by Ricky Martin.
Rolling Stone included “La Bamba” among the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time—the only track not sung in English to make the list.
∙ The 1959 plane crash that took Valens’ life—as well as the lives of Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper—has been memorialized as The Day the Music Died.

    Pacoima, CA
  • BORN
    May 13, 1941

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