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Ritchie Valens (Richard Steven Valenzuela; May 13, 1941  – February 3, 1959) was an American singer, songwriter and guitarist.

A rock and roll pioneer and a forefather of the Chicano rock movement, Valens' recording career lasted only eight months. During this time, however, he scored several hits, most notably "Donna" which peaked at #2 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart; and, the flip side "La Bamba", which was originally a Mexican folk song that Valens transformed with a rock rhythm and beat. Both songs charted in early 1959, making Valens a pioneer of the Spanish-speaking rock and roll movement.

On February 3, 1959, on what has become known as The Day the Music Died, Valens was killed in a small-plane crash in Iowa, an event that also claimed the lives of fellow musicians Buddy Holly and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Richie Valens."
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