->''Para bailar La Bamba,\\
Para bailar La Bamba,\\
Se necessita una poca de gracia,\\
Una poca de gracia,\\
Para mi, para ti, ay arriba, ay arriba,\\
Ay, arriba arriba,\\
Por ti sere, por ti sere, por ti sere.''[[note]]To dance the Bamba, to dance the Bamba, one needs a bit of grace, a bit of grace for me, for you, now come on, come on, now come on, come on, for you I'll be, for you I'll be, for you I'll be.[[/note]]
-->"La Bamba"

'''Ritchie Valens''' (May 13, 1941 -- February 3, 1959) was an American RockAndRoll musician, best remembered as one of the three rock 'n' roll pioneers who, together with Music/BuddyHolly and Music/TheBigBopper, died in a tragic plane crash that has gone in history as "The Day The Music Died", in reference to Music/DonMcLean's ''Music/AmericanPie''. Of all three musicians Valens was the youngest, being only 17 years of age.

Valens is best known as a OneHitWonder thanks to his SignatureSong "La Bamba". However, he is also known for the lesser famous hit "Donna". He was the first rockstar of Hispanic origin, paving the way for artists such as Music/CarlosSantana, Music/ChanRomero and Music/LosLobos.

Despite his premature death and not particularly large music catalogue Valens did manage to receive a {{Biopic}} based on his life: ''Film/LaBamba'' (1987) and was inducted in the RockAndRollHallOfFame in 2001.

!! Ritchie Valens' work provides examples of...
* AlliterativeTitle: "'''B'''ig '''B'''aby '''B'''lues"., "'''F'''ast '''F'''reight".
* AnswerSong: After Valens' death his song "Donna" received an answer song. "A Letter To Donna" by The Kittens uses the melody of "Donna" but with new lyrics that sent a message to Valens' girlfriend Donna Ludwig.
* BadassBoast: "La Bamba" has a line which says: "Yo no soy marinero, soy capitán", meaning "I'm not a sailor, I am a captain".
* CoverVersion: "La Bamba" was a traditional Mexican song.
* DeathByIrony: Valens was scared of flying ever since a plane crash on his high school playground. He wasn't at school at the time, but the fear kept with him. Eventually he did start flying again, which would tragically result in the plane crash that took his life.
* DoowopProgression: "Donna".
* TheFilmOfTheSong: ''Film/LaBamba' was named after "La Bamba".
* GratuitousSpanish: Well, he was from Mexican descent so Spanish came natural to him [[note]]Actually, being raised as an English speaker, Valens practically couldn't speak much Spanish at all. He had to learn and sing the lyrics of ''La Bamba'' phonetically[[/note]]. But at the time all rock 'n' roll songs were sang in English. To release a song like "La Bamba" and sing it entirely in Spanish was quite daring at the time.
* OneWomanSong: "Donna", "That's My Little Suzie".
* PopCulturalOsmosis: Valens is always named in one breath along with Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper, due to them all dying in the same plane accident.
* RealLifeWritesThePlot: "Donna" was written about Valens' girlfriend Donna Ludwig.
* RockAndRoll: He is considered to be one of the 1950s rock pioneers.
* ShoutOut:
** "Three Stars" by Music/EddieCochran is a tribute to Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper. Cochran's voice audibly cracks at several points in the song. What's worse, the poor guy had do record several takes...and would die young in an accident himself in 1960, only a year after the trio went.
** Music/DonMcLean's ''Music/AmericanPie'' is a {{Homage}} to the deaths of Buddy Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper.
** "Boogie With Stu" from Music/LedZeppelin's ''Music/PhysicalGraffiti'' was inspired by Valens' "Oooh My Head".
** ''WesternAnimation/CloneHigh'': In one scene a clone of Buddy Holly invites Abe to ride on a broken-down plane along with Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, Music/JimCroce, and half of Music/LynyrdSkynyrd... all of whom had their real life counterparts die in plane crashes.
** ''WesternAnimation/PepperAnn'': In "Cold Feet" a flashback shows a pregnant young Grandma planning to leave for a flight with Music/BuddyHolly, Ritchie Valens and the Music/TheBigBopper, but then she goes into labor before she can leave.
** "Donna" was used in an episode of ''Series/That70sShow'' where Donna and Eric broke up.
** Music/WeirdAlYankovic spoofed "La Bamba" as "Lasagna".
** ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'': In ''Sideshow Bob Roberts'' Bart and Lisa discover that Sideshow Bob filled in the names of deceased people to win the popular vote, including Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. A close-up of The Big Bopper's gravestone shows that his epitaph is: "Gooooodbye baby!"
** An Itchy & Scratchy cartoon in "C.E.D'oh" has Scratchy go aboard the plane that carried Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper, who somehow turned out to be vampires too.
* SomethingBlues: "Big Baby Blues".
* TheSomethingSong: "The Paddiwack Song".
* SpellMyNameWithAnS: His artist name "Ritchie" was spelled that way to distinguish him from all the other musicians who were named "Richie".
* YoungerThanTheyLook: He was ''not yet 18'' when he passed. The trope image isn't even one of his last photos!