Richard Steven Valenzuela May 13, — February 3, , known professionally as Ritchie Valens , was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. A rock and roll pioneer and a forefather of the Chicano rock movement, Valens was killed in a plane crash eight months into his recording career. Valens had several hits, most notably " La Bamba ", which he had adapted from a Mexican folk song. Valens transformed the song into one with a rock rhythm and beat, and it became a hit in ,   making Valens a pioneer of the Spanish-speaking rock and roll movement. He also had an American number 2 hit with ' 'Donna' '. On February 3, , on what has become known as " The Day the Music Died ", Valens died in a plane crash in Iowa , an accident that also claimed the lives of fellow musicians Buddy Holly and J. He was the second of five siblings with older brother Bob Morales, younger sisters Connie and Irma, and younger brother Mario Ramirez.
Who Was Ritchie Valens?
Class of 2001
In an all too brief career, Ritchie Valens was the first Chicano rock and roll star, having his best remembered hit, "La Bamba," just one month before his untimely death with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper on February 3, Steve was a tree surgeon by trade, but dabbled in mining operations and was a horse trainer. 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. Robert and Ritchie. Ritchie's mother, Concepcion "Connie" Valenzuela already had another son from 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 Coronel Street in San Fernando. 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. 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 Valens was a Mexican American singer and songwriter influential in the Chicano rock movement. He recorded numerous hits during his short career, most notably the hit "La Bamba. The tragedy was later immortalized as "the day the music died" in the song "American Pie. Growing in Pacoima, Valens developed a love of music early on and learned to play a number of different instruments.