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 that Valens transformed 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 was killed 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.After the February 2, 1959, performance in Clear Lake, Iowa, Holly, Richardson, and Valens flew out of the Mason City airport in a small plane that Holly had chartered. Valens was on the plane because he had won a coin toss. The plane, a three-passenger Beechcraft Bonanza, departed for Fargo, North Dakota, and crashed shortly after takeoff in a snow storm. The crash killed all three passengers and the pilot; at 17, Valens was the youngest to die on the flight. The event inspired singer Don McLean's popular 1971 ballad "American Pie", and immortalized February 3 as "The Day the Music Died".
|Birth name||Richard Steven Valenzuela|
|Born||May 13, 1941|
|Origin||Pacoima, California, United States|
|Died||February 3, 1959 (aged 17)|
Grant Township, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, United States
|Genres||Rock and roll, chicano rock|
|Occupations||Singer, Songwriter and Guitarist|