Ritchie Valens Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Trivia (16)

Overview (4)

Born in Los Angeles, California, USA
Died in Clear Lake, Iowa, USA  (plane crash)
Birth NameRichard Steven Valenzuela
Height 5' 5" (1.65 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Ritchie Valens was born on May 13, 1941 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Richard Steven Valenzuela. He died on February 3, 1959 in Clear Lake, Iowa, USA.

Trivia (16)

Born at 12:56am-PDT
Died in a plane crash at age 17 along with Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper (Jiles Perry Richardson).
His hit song "Donna" was named after his high school sweetheart Donna Ludwig.
Was one of the performers featured on a set of stamps of rock and blues legends issued by the United States Postal Service in June 1993.
Posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
Despite having his most popular hit with "La Bamba", an adaptation of a Mexican folk song, Valens did not speak Spanish.
He was attending Pacoima Junior High School in Pacoima, CA, on Jan. 31, 1957, when a mid-air collision occurred between an Air Force fighter plane and a civilian passenger plane high above the school. Debris from the crash fell on the school, killing three students--one of whom was Valens' best friend. He developed an intense fear of flying after that, and would fly only when absolutely necessary. Ironically, he died in an airplane crash two years after the incident.
Parents were Steven Valenzuela and Connie Valenzuela.
Is mentioned in the song "Life Is a Rock But the Radio Rolled Me" by Reunion.
At the time of his death he had a two-sided hit, "Donna" (US #2) / "La Bamba" (US #22)--the only time a singing star, in the rock era, had a top 10 hit at the exact time of his/her death.
He was posthumously awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6733 Hollywood Blvd. on May 11, 1990 (two days before what would have been his 49th birthday).
Early in his career, Bruce Johnston, later of The Beach Boys, was a fellow band member. The Beach Boys have credited Ritchie as one of their influences.
His appearance in Go, Johnny, Go! (1959), filmed sometime in 1958, appears to have been filmed prior to his recordings of "Donna" and "Come On, Let's Go", as he is singing in the style of Little Richard. He had not yet adapted his own vocal style that he used on his later 1958 recordings. Interestingly, "Framed", the B-side to "Come On, Let's Go", is a reworking of Little Richard's "Miss Ann", but there Ritchie sounds more like the Ritchie Valens that his fans came to know.
In the trailer for Go, Johnny, Go! (1959), he is seen briefly performing on stage, with no sound. In the actual film, he is performing "Ooh My Head" in a coffee shop. This may suggest that another song was left on "the cutting room floor".
On December 27, 1958, he appeared on The Dick Clark Show (1958), live from New York City from 7:30-8:00 pm. Also on that show were Jackie Wilson, The Crests, Jimmy Clanton and The Diamonds. At that time, Ritchie and others were also appearing at the Lowe's State Theater, as part of Alan Freed's ten-day holiday show. After their performances on "The Dick Clark Show", at the Little Theater, Ritchie and the other performers traveled a few city blocks, within New York City's Times Square area for their nightly revue at the Lowe's State Theater.
Following his untimely death, he was interred at San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, CA.

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