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

It’s been more than 60 years since Rock N’ Roll legend Ritchie Valens tragically passed away but his legacy is still relevant today more than ever. That’s why a new stage musical about the rock pioneer is in the works, according to Deadline. The show, titled “Come On, Let’s Go,” a reference to his 1958 hit single, will be produced by Brad Garfield, while the play will be written by Richard Montoya. Los Lobos’ Louie Perez and David Hidalgo will be behind the original music and the show will be directed by Tony Taccone (Latin History for Morons).

The plan is to develop the production in southern California next year and hopefully bring the show to Broadway after that. It will focus on the life of Valens growing in the San Fernando Valley and his quick rise to Rock N’ Roll fame. This will be the first big project focusing on the life of Valens since the 1987 biopic “La Bamba.” Garfield has the backing of the Valens family and says the production is a tribute to his iconic role in music history. 

“We are excited to create an original rock musical–a rockumentary that needs to be told about a legendary pioneer…With 100 percent support from Ritchie’s three siblings who are still alive, our award-winning team is filled with desire, passion, and responsibility on keeping Ritchie’s true legacy alive,” Garfield said in a press release.

Ritchie Valens is not only an icon in Rock N’ Roll but a pioneer in the Chicano rock movement. 

The late Mexican-American star is beloved by countless Latinos who grew up playing his music and wanted to be just like him. To understand the importance of Ritchie Valens, you have to start with his upbringing in Pacoima, California where he grew up in a working-class Latino household. By the age of 17, Valens, a self-taught musician, was already a star in the San Fernando Valley playing local gigs. After meeting Bob Keane, the owner of the record label Del-Fi Records, an incredible recording career that lasted only eight months would ensue. 

It was instant stardom for Valens when his hit single “La Bamba,” which Valens adapted from a Mexican folk song, shot to the top of the music charts. With his fusion of guitar and vocals, Valens made the song his own and had a crossover hit that made him beloved in many Latino circles that never heard a Spanish-speaking rock star before. 

Just as his fame was rising, tragedy struck on February 3, 1959, a day described as the “Day the Music Died.” Valens, along with other hit rock & roll stars, J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Buddy Holly, died in a unfortunate plane crash. The tragic event would leave a gaping hole in the Rock N’ Roll industry that would be felt for decades. 

Ritchie Valens was just 17 years old at the time of his death. His song “Dona” would eventually peak at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 after his death. Valens was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

The upcoming production is a long time coming and is a well-deserved tribute to one of Rock N’ Roll’s biggest icons.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Garfield, who plans to include never-before-heard music from Valens in the play, says that he wants to tell a new story about Valens that audiences might not be aware of. He says that most people connect Valens’s story with that of the 1987 film but instead, he wants the production to show who the Rock legend really was and his ensuing impact. 

“‘La Bamba’ was a great commercial success, but Ritchie wasn’t ‘La Bamba’ and ‘La Bamba’ wasn’t Ritchie,” Garfield said. “Ritchie’s music was diverse. It’s an exciting blend of true rock & roll.” 

Garfield hopes a whole new generation will get to learn and love Valens and his incredible rise to fame that left the world wanting more. With a musical, that will include songs that influenced Ritchie himself, fans should be in for an amazing show that will only serve as another reminder of his legacy. 

“Ritchie lived the American Dream, which wasn’t an easy task for a Chicano in the late 1950s and, as we see in our world today, these difficulties and prejudices that Ritchie faced are still a reality in 2019. Ritchie was a pioneer, and he had an original sound that truly opened the door to Latin rock & roll,” Garfield said. “His journey is a journey that needs to be told in a documentary-type of way through his music and new music by no other than Louie Perez and David Hildalgo of Los Lobos. They encompass the true meaning  and understanding of who Ritchie was.”

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