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Ritchie Valens

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Pacoima, California, USA (1958 – 1959)

Ritchie Valens (born Richard Steven Valenzuela; on 13 May 1941 in Pacoima, California, USA – February 3, 1959) was a Mexican American singer, songwriter and guitarist.

A Rock and Roll pioneer and a forefather of the Chicano rock movement, Valens’ recording career lasted only eight months. During this time, however, he scored several hits, most notably “La Bamba”, which was originally a Mexican folk song that Valens transformed with a rock rhythm and beat that became a hit in 1958, making Valens a pioneer of the Spanish-speaking rock and roll movement.

Valens died in a plane crash outside Clear Lake, Iowa while on the Winter Dance Party tour. Also killed in the crash were the pilot of the plane and rock and roll stars Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper. The song American Pie, by Don McLean is a tribute to the three musicians who died, and a reflection of the changes in music since their deaths. In the song he calls the day of their death “the day the music died,” a phrase that came from newspaper headlines that announced the tragedy on February 3, 1959

Brought up hearing traditional Mexican mariachi music, as well as flamenco guitar, R&B and jump blues, by the age of 5 he expressed an interest in making music of his own. He was encouraged by his father to take up guitar and trumpet, and it is also known that he later taught himself the drums. One day, a neighbour came across Ritchie trying to play a guitar that had only two strings. He re-strung the instrument, and taught Ritchie the fingerings of some chords. While Ritchie was left-handed, he was so eager to learn the guitar that he mastered the traditionally right-handed version of the instrument.

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  • FoREVer7x

    Me encanta ritchie. él era un músico brillante, por no mencionar muy guapo también. I love Ritchie ;)

    27 Aug 3:54pm Reply
  • WarriorJones

    Why must the good die young? Man do I love Mr. Valens...

    8 Jun 2:24am Reply
  • JosiHell

    <3

    24 May 4:06am Reply
  • Bastard1

    Bettin' about 200 of those weekly La Bamba scrobbles are mistagged Los Lobos versions don't ya know.

    20 Apr 2:28am Reply
  • Lowbacca

    i've uploaded a couple of new pictures :]

    1 Feb 3:10pm Reply
  • engmostafaeldam

    rock n roll legend

    19 Oct 2013 Reply
  • angel_clipped

    he'd only be 72 today. Sad that he was taken so young :(

    19 Jul 2013 Reply
  • SayonaraKansas

    I don't think I'll ever stop being depressed at how young he was. Ever.

    24 May 2013 Reply
  • mpr1993

    Happy Birthday Ritchie! :(

    13 May 2013 Reply
  • Lowbacca

    Das Leben war kurz, aber uns bleibt die beste Musik. [2]

    5 Mar 2013 Reply
  • LeslieJasmine

    rest in peace Ritchie Valens

    4 Feb 2013 Reply
  • evanisreallyok

    JP, Buddy and Ritchie may not have lived very long but their music will live on forever.

    3 Feb 2013 Reply
  • Bastard1

    You mean, the song he didn't write?

    11 Sep 2012 Reply
  • rromn0

    I just read your biography, and I could not but mourn now as if his death had happened, and was 53 years ago. His talent is enormous proportions, which worth your destination. His talent led him into the exclusive site of eternal fame, immortality. We Belong Together ... a perpetual work of art.

    14 Aug 2012 Reply
  • rromn0

    Acabo de leer su biografia, y no pude menos que llorar como si ahora mismo hubiese sucedido su muerte, y fue hace 53 años. Su talento es de proporciones enormes, que pena su destino. Su talento lo hizo entrar al exclusivo sitio de la fama eterna, de la inmortalidad. We Belong Together...una obra de arte perpetua.

    14 Aug 2012 Reply
  • Heyna64

    Das Leben war kurz, aber uns bleibt die beste Musik.

    29 Apr 2012 Reply
  • hangmutan

    Damn plane.

    29 Apr 2012 Reply
  • Lowbacca

    great voice and soul. rock 'n roll legend.

    2 Mar 2012 Reply
  • peeves111

    Too young. Talent gone too soon. R.I.P Ritchie. 53 years ago yesterday.

    4 Feb 2012 Reply
  • Pinkerton-

    soo young, yet soo much talent.. rip :(

    3 Feb 2012 Reply
  • All 138 shouts