Ritchie Valens (born Richard Steven Valenzuela; May 13, 1941--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, transformed by Valens with a rock rhythm and beat, that became a hit in 1958, making Valens a pioneer of the Spanish-speaking rock and roll movement. On February 3, 1959, on what has become known as 'The Day the Music Died', Valens died in a small-plane crash in Iowa, a tragedy that also claimed the lives of fellow musicians Buddy Holly and J. P. 'The Big Bopper' Richardson. Valens was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Ritchie Valens was born in Pacoima, a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, on May 13, 1941.
Contributions by Fernkes, Mymelody, and Geekroick.