Music / Ritchie Valens
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.
"La Bamba"

Ritchie Valens (May 13, 1941 — February 3, 1959) was an American Rock & Roll musician, best remembered as one of the three rock 'n' roll pioneers who, together with Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper, died in a tragic plane crash that has gone in history as "The Day The Music Died", in reference to Don McLean's American Pie. Of all three musicians Valens was the youngest, being only 17 years of age.

Valens is best known as a One-Hit Wonder thanks to his Signature Song "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 Carlos Santana, Chan Romero and Los Lobos.

Despite his premature death and not particularly large music catalogue Valens did manage to receive a Biopic based on his life: La Bamba (1987) and was inducted in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2001.

Ritchie Valens' work provides examples of...

  • Alliterative Title: "Big Baby Blues"., "Fast Freight".
  • Answer Song: 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.
  • Badass Boast: "La Bamba" has a line which says: "Yo no soy marinero, soy capitán", meaning "I'm not a sailor, I am a captain".
  • Cover Version: "La Bamba" was a traditional Mexican song.
  • Death by Irony: 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.
  • Doowop Progression: "Donna".
  • The Film of the Song: ''La Bamba' was named after "La Bamba".
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Well, he was from Mexican descent so Spanish came natural to him 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.
  • One Woman Song: "Donna", "That's My Little Suzie".
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis: 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.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: "Donna" was written about Valens' girlfriend Donna Ludwig.
  • Rock & Roll: He is considered to be one of the 1950s rock pioneers.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Three Stars" by Eddie Cochran 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.
    • Don McLean's American Pie is a Homage to the deaths of Buddy Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper.
    • "Boogie With Stu" from Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti was inspired by Valens' "Oooh My Head".
    • Clone High: In one scene a clone of Buddy Holly invites Abe to ride on a broken-down plane along with Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, Jim Croce, and half of Lynyrd Skynyrd... all of whom had their real life counterparts die in plane crashes.
    • Pepper Ann: In "Cold Feet" a flashback shows a pregnant young Grandma planning to leave for a flight with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the The Big Bopper, but then she goes into labor before she can leave.
    • "Donna" was used in an episode of That '70s Show where Donna and Eric broke up.
    • "Weird Al" Yankovic spoofed "La Bamba" as "Lasagna".
    • The Simpsons: 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.
  • Something Blues: "Big Baby Blues".
  • The Something Song: "The Paddiwack Song".
  • Spell My Name with an "S": His artist name "Ritchie" was spelled that way to distinguish him from all the other musicians who were named "Richie".
  • Younger Than They Look: He was not yet 18 when he passed. The trope image isn't even one of his last photos!