Music

Chicano Rock Legend Ritchie Valens Was Inducted Into California’s Hall Of Fame

Mexican-American icon Ritchie Valens is receiving a new honor around what would’ve been his 80th birthday. The late rock star was inducted into California’s Hall of Fame on Oct. 12.

Ritchie Valens is most known for his iconic hit “La Bamba.”

Richard Steven Valenzuela, who is better known as Ritchie Valens, became a star in 1958 thanks to “La Bamba.” He adapted the Mexican folk song into a rock ‘n’ roll jam, which launched the Chicano rock movement. The song impressively reached No. 22 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 2019, Valens’ version of “La Bamba” was selected by the Library of Congress for inclusion in the National Recording Registry.

Valens first entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart while still in high school with “Come On, Let’s Go.” The song peaked at No. 42. His follow-up “Donna,” that he wrote about his high school sweetheart, reached No. 2 on the chart.

Ritchie Valens’ death became known as “The Day The Music Died.”

At 17-years-old, Valens died in a plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959. Fellow rock stars Buddy Holly and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson passed with him as well. In his 1971 song “American Pie,” Don McLean referred to the day as “The Day the Music Died.” In 1987, Lou Diamond Phillips played Valens in the biopic La Bamba. Los Lobos’ version of “La Bamba” from the soundtrack went to No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart.

The San Fernando Valley native was inducted in California’s Hall of Fame.

California Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Newsom inducted Valens into the California Hall of Fame on Oct. 12. Valens, who grew up in the San Fernando Valley, was inducted alongside Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia. To be eligible for California’s Hall of Fame, the inductee must have lived in the state for at least five years. Valens would’ve turned 80 on May 13.

In 2001, Valens was inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Puerto Rican superstar Ricky Martin had the honor of inducting Valens that year.

Read: A Musical About The Life Of Rock N’ Roll Legend Ritchie Valens Is Reportedly Being Developed For Broadway

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