Hello, Ritchie Valens first hit record, made its Billboard Hot 100 debut on September 22, 1958, he was just 17 years old. His hit, COME ON, LET’S GO on Del-Fi Records was a big radio favorite and became a #42 hit on the national chart and remained on the Hot 100 for 13 weeks.
On November 24, 1958 his follow-up record, DONNA, made it debut. Donna was written and sung by Ritchie and was about his high school sweetheart, Donna Ludwig. Donna flew up the Hot 100 and just missed the top spot on the chart, reaching #2 and remaining on the Billboard Hot 100 for 23 weeks. The “B” side of this record is one of the most famous “B” sides in rock history, LA BAMBA. It is a Mexican folk song, that combines Spanish, African and various musical blends to give it a rock and roll beat to move your feet to. Ritchie’s version entered the Hot 100 on December 29, 1958 and climbed to #22, the single remained on the chart for 15 weeks. La Bamba with its rock drive has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 as one of the songs that helped shape rock and roll. La Bamba has also been awarded a Hall of Fame “Grammy Award”. It is #345 on the Rolling Stone magazine Top 500 songs of all time list.
The success of these two songs does not stop there. Johnny Crawford covered Donna in 1962 also on Del-Fi Records. It was also covered by Los Lobos on the La Bamba movie soundtrack. La Bamba by Los Lobos became the #1 song in America in 1987, also from the movie soundtrack
The story of Ritchie Valens is a tragic one, along with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper, he was killed when their charter plane crashed on February 3, 1959, Richie was only 17 years old. In his lifetime Ritchie only charted the three songs, Come On, Let’s Go, Donna and La Bamba, but his impact is still being felt today. Who knows how big of a star he would have been…this we do know, his legend continues to grow with time. His place in rock and roll history is secure. His legacy is his music, that lives on oldies radio and in the hearts of the people who remember when giants roamed the earth, in the “Golden Era Of Rock And Roll”. Ritchie Valens was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.