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Ritchie Valens

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Ritchie Valens
Ritchie Valens
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Of all the early American rock and roll singers of the late-1950s, Ritchie Valens had the distinction of being the first Hispanic pop star. Known for his lively rendition of "La Bamba," a traditional Mexican folk song, and self-penned tracks such as "Donna" and "Come On, Let's Go," his clean-cut image and tales of teenage love made him a well-respected contemporary of artists such as Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers. Valens grew up in Los Angeles, a member of Chicano neighborhoods that reflected his parents' Mexican roots. His childhood musical diet of mariachi and flamenco music eventually found its way into his rock and roll songs, offering listeners a unique spin on the burgeoning genre. By the time he was 16, Valens was already enjoying a successful career as a songwriter, singer and performer, touring the country and penning multiple hit songs. In 1959, at the age of just 17, Valens died in the tragic plane crash that also took the lives of Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper, ending his just beginning to flourish career.
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