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Ritchie Valens (13 mei 1941 - 3 februari 1959) was een Amerikaans Rock 'n Roll-artiest die stierf aan het begin en tevens hoogtepunt van zijn carrière in een vliegtuigongeluk tezamen met Buddy Holly en The Big Bopper. Zijn echte naam was Richard Valenzuela en hij werd geboren in Los Angeles. Op 17-jarige leeftijd kreeg hij zijn eerste platencontract aangeboden maar binnen een jaar verongelukte hij. De bekendste hits uit zijn korte carrière zijn "Donna" en "La Bamba".

 


Steve and Ritchie

 

The Joseph Steven Valenzuela family live in the San Fernando north of Los Angeles. Steve was a tree surgeon by trade, but dabbled in mining operations and was a horse trainer. His youngest son, Richard Steven, was born May 13, 1941 in County Osteopathic Hospital.  At that time Steve and his wife, Connie were working in a munitions plant in Saugus just to the north of the San Fernando Valley. Ritchie's mother, Concepcion "Connie" Valenzuela already had another son 

rom a previous marriage named Robert Morales who was four years old 

at the time of Ritchie's birth. For a few years the Valenzuela family 

lived a fairly "steady" life at 1337 Coronel Street in San
Fernando.

 

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House on Fillmore

 

In 1944, the parents divorced with Steve moving and buying a house on

 Filmore Street in nearby Pacoima while Connie and the children After Steve's death

  of diabetes in 1951   Connie moved into the house on Filmore with her oldest son Robert, and her two young daughters Connie and Irma. Because the house was small, Ritchie was shuttled off to live with various aunts and uncles in various towns in the upper Los Angeles area. Ritchie spent a great deal of time at his Aunt Ernestine and Uncle Lelo Reyes house when he returned to Pacoima. As a child Ritchie faced the many prejudices that were part of Hispanic life throughout southern California. However, the area was home to many family groups,

 Asians, blacks, and whites, as well as Hispanics. Ritchie was an average student for whom music was a guiding force. nfluenced by Mexican folk songs and popular songs sung by his relatives.  his true love was the singing cowboy of the Saturday matinee movies. He also listen to country played on the radio. With only an average singing voice, relatives began teaching him to play the guitar at eleven.

 

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Photos courtesy Ritchie Valens Lives On

 

At the age of thirteen Ritchie entered Pacoima Junior High as a seventh grader

 where was an average student. He was an average student, a bit quiet 

and well liked by his classmates. Influenced by Mexican folk songs and popular songs sung by his relatives his true love was the singing cowboy of the Saturday matinee movies. He also listen to country played on the radio. With only an average singing voice, relatives began teaching him to play the guitar at eleven. 

By this time Ritchie brought his guitar with him everywhere. During lunchtime at school he would sit on the bleachers and practice or entertain his friends with his music. At Pacioma Junior High, he appeared in variety programs and played his guitar for schoolmates at lunch breaks. As part of a shop project when he was thirteen, he made an electric guitar out of  scrap lumber and used electric parts.

 

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By the time he entered San Fernando High School, he was playing the guitar

 at school assemblies and after school parties. In his junior year he joined the Silhouettes, a band named after a song by the Rays. The only rock and roll band in the area, the Silhouettes quickly became local stars. At a January 1958 "rent party" held in  an American Legion Hall, the band was taped by a part time

 talent scout working for Bob Keane, the owner of Keen Records. After hearing the tape, Keane decided he wanted to hear more. In May 1958, Ritchie went to Los Angeles  to audition for Keane. At that time Keane's company Keen Records was in the middle of a string of hits with Sam Cooke and was looking for talent for his new label, Del-Fi Records. The audition went well enough that Keane set up a formal session. Ritchie played a instrumental number on his guitar that Keane liked 

well enough to record "as is" and asked Ritchie to make up some lyrics as he went along.

 

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This single, "Come On, Let's Go" was released locally early in the summer of 1958. 

Valenzuela's name was shortened to Ritchie Valens. The song received attention in Los Angeles immediately and soon spread through the Southwest. In August, Del-Fi released the record nationally and it eventually sold a half million copies.

 


In October, after a short tour, Valens began another recording session. "Donna" the next record was a ballad Valens had written for his high school sweetheart. 

The flip side was "La Bamba" a reworking of a traditional Mexican folk song of the same name. Valen's time was now filled with appearances and recording sessions. 

In December, Ritchie appeared at his junior high school for an afternoon assembly 

in the gym which Keane taped. At this time Valens filmed a cameo for "Go, Johnny Go!" a teen movie. He appeared on "The Dick Clark Show" on December 27.

 

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On January 23, 1959, Valens joined Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Dion and the Belmonts for the  "Winter Dance Party" tour of the Upper Midwest. Valens singles "Donna" and "La Bamba, " that was moving toward the top ten, made him the most popular artist on the tour at the moment

 


Crash site Memorial

 

On February 2, 1959, the "Winter Dance Party" arrived in Clear Lake Iowa, to play a dance at the Surf Ball Room. the heater on the converted bus that he had been traveling on hadn't been working properly for days while  the outside temperatures were near zero. On the way to Clear Lake the bus broke down completely. Buddy Holly who was unhappy with the traveling  accommodations arranged to fly to the next stop in a leased airplane. He leased a four-seat Beechcraft Bonanza for himself and the band members, Waylon Jennings and Tommy Allsup. The Big Bopper and Valens talked Jennings and Allsup out of their seats. After the show Holly, Richardson and Valens went to the airport and took off shortly after midnight for Fargo, North Dakota. The plane took off and shortly there after crashed into a pasture a mile from the airport. All aboard were killed. Ritchie Valens was buried February 7, in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery.

 

Grave site at San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Mission Hills, California

 

 

Ritchie Valens was only seventeen when he died, his legacy was based primarily on "Donna" and "La Bamba." popular with teenagers. At the time of his death,

 his hard rocking style was being phased out in favor of teen idols like Fabian and Frankie AvalonValens image as an  early Latino rocker has lasted and inspired Los Lobos, Freddy Fender, The Midnighters, Trini Lopez and Sunny and the Sunglows. 

La Bamba became the model for the Isley Brothers' 1961 hit "Twist and Shout."

 Valens also inspired the Rascals, Bob Dylan and R.E.M. His untrained voice and guitar style was a basis for the garage band  revolution of the early 1960s. In 1987, he was the subject of the successful movie "La Bamba" and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1990. Ritchie Valens was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 Ritchie Valens Lives On Ritchie Valens: Homeboy Hero

 

 

 

Come On Let's Go

Donna

La Bamba

 

Come On Let's Go

 

Come on lets go lets go lets go little darlin'
Tell me that you'll never leave me
Come on Come on lets go again and again and again and again

Well.... Now swing me swing me swing me way darling
Come on lets go little darlin'
Lets go lets go again once more

Well..... I love you so yeah and I'll never let you go
Come along baby soon
Oh pretty baby I love you so WELL......

Lets go lets go lets go little sweet heart
Now that we can always be together
Come on come on lets go again
Lets go

I love you so yeah and I'll never let you go
Come along baby soon
Oh pretty baby I love you so WELL......

Come on lets go lets go lets go little darlin'
Tell me that you'll never leave me
Come on Come on lets go and again and again and again
Come on Lets go and do it again and again and again and again
and again and again and again
Come on lets go and do it again

 

La Bamba


Para bailar la bamba
Para bailar la bamba se necesita una poca de gracia
Una poca de gracia y otra cosita
Y arriba y arriba
Y arriba y arriba y arriba ire
Yo no soy marinero
Yo no soy marinero, por ti sere,
Por ti sere, por ti sere.

Bamba, bamba, bamba, bamba
Bamba, bamba
Bamba.

Para bailar la bamba
Para bailar la bamba se necesita una poca de gracia
Una poca de gracia pa mi pa ti
Ay y arriba y arriba
Y arriba y arriba y arriba ire
Yo no soy marinero
Yo no soy marinero, soy capitan,
Soy capitan, soy capitan.

Bamba, bamba, bamba, bamba
Bamba, bamba
Bamba

Donna

Oh, Donna, Oh, Donna
Oh, Donna, Oh, Donna

I had a girl
Donna was her name
Since she left me
I've never been the same
'cause I love my girl
Donna, where can you be? Where can you be?

Now that you're gone
I'm left all alone
All by myself
To wander and roam
'cause I love my girl
Donna, where can you be? Where can you be?

Well, darlin', now that you're gone
I don't know what I'll do
All the time and all my love for yo-ou-ou

I had a girl
Donna was her name
Since she left me
I've never been the same
'cause I love my girl
Donna, where can you be? Where can you be?

Oh, Donna, Oh, Donna
Oh, Donna, Oh, Donna

 

RITCHIE VALENS, the 17 year-old shooting star.

 

 

13058 Fillmore in Pacoima, California.

 

 

1985 mural by Manuel Velazquez at Pacoima Jr. High.

New Ritchie Valens Recreation Center.

 

 

Old Paxton Park Pool, renamed in tribute.

 

 

 

 

 






 




 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 



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