La Bamba (2:07)

Cover of La Bamba

From La Bamba and 422 other releases

“La Bamba” is a folk song whose origins can be traced to the Mexican state of Veracruz over 300 years ago. It is best known from a 1958 adaptation by Ritchie Valens, a top 40 hit in the the U.S. charts and one of early rock and roll’s best-known songs.

The traditional song inspired Ritchie Valens’ rock and roll version “La Bamba” in the 1950s. Valens’ “La Bamba” infused the traditional tune with a rock beat, making the song accessible to the population of the United States and earning it (and Valens) a place in rock history. The song features simple verse-chorus form. Valens learned the Spanish lyrics phonetically, as he had been raised from birth speaking English. Valens’ version of La Bamba is ranked number 345 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It is the only song on the list not sung in English. Ritchie Valens’ tapping into a Mexican folk song unwittingly paved the way for Twist and Shout and all the other songs based on it since 1962.

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