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Who Was Ritchie Valens?
His short career ended when he died at age 17 in the plane crash in which Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper also perished. Valens grew up in suburban Los Angeles in a family of Mexican-Indian extraction. Valens left a small legacy of recordings, but his compositions often based on only three or four chords , exciting guitar style, emotional singing , and stylistic versatility influenced generations of rock musicians.
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-two 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. Valenzuela expressed an interest in making music of his own by the age of five. He was encouraged by his father to take up guitar and trumpet, and later taught himself the drums.
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.