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Ritchie Valens


1941

Richard Steven Valenzuela, better known as Ritchie Valens, is born in Los Angeles.

1957

A sixteen-year-old Ritchie Valens makes his performing debut with a nine-piece group called the Silhouettes.

1958

Ritchie Valens’ first single, “Come On, Let’s Go,” is released on the Del-Fi label.

1958

One of the greatest singles of the rock and roll era, “Donna” b/w “La Bamba,” by Ritchie Valens – is released. “Donna” is a teen love ballad, while “La Bamba” is a Latin-spiced garage rocker.

1958

Ritchie Valens performs a concert at the junior high school he’d attended. The show is recorded and posthumously released in 1960 as Ritchie Valens Live at Pacoima Junior High.

1959

Ritchie Valens signs a contract with Super Enterprises and General Artists Corporation.

1959

Valens returns to Gold Star Studios for what would be his last recording session before the Winter Dance Party tour.

1959

At the age of 17, Ritchie Valens is killed in a plane crash, along with Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper.

1959

Valens’ album Ritchie Valens is released.

1960

The first Ritchie Valens Memorial Dance was held at El Mante Legion Stadium.

1961

A Ritchie Valens Memorial Concert is held at Long Beach Civic Auditorium, in Long Beach, California. On the bill are the youthful Beach Boys, making one of their earliest appearances.

1987

The popular film biography of Ritchie Valens, ‘La Bamba,’ opens nationally. Lou Diamond Phillips is cast in the lead role, and Los Lobos’ soundtrack recording of “La Bamba” becomes a #1 hit.

1993

A U.S. postage stamp is released, honoring the late Ritchie Valens and his legacy.

2001

Ritchie Valens is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the sixteenth annual induction dinner. Ricky Martin is his presenter.

2009

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum along with the Surf Ballroom and Museum in Clear Lake, Iowa commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the ‘Day the Music Died’ with a tribute concert.

Ritchie Valens