Ritchie Valens, whose biggest hit was "La Bamba," was born Richard Steven Valenzuela and was killed in a plane crash before his 18th birthday. Ritchie Valens' recording career spanned only two years, and he released just one album during his lifetime.
Ritchie Valens was born in Pacoima, a suburb of Los Angeles, California, in 1941. Ritchie's father, Joseph, introduced him to several styles of music and taught him to play the guitar. He was inspired and influenced by popular rock and blues artists, as well as by traditional Mexican music. In 1958, Valens recorded his first single, "Come On, Let's Go," which was not a big hit at the time but has since become known as a classic rock song. Next came "Donna" and "La Bamba," both of which were popular on music charts.
Valens' singles were compiled into a self-titled album, released just over a week before his death. In 1959, Valens had begun a tour with Buddy Holly and The Crickets, The Big Bopper and Dion and The Belmonts. Following a performance on Feb. 2, 1959, Valens was killed when the plane he was riding in crashed into a corn field. Also killed in the crash were Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and the plane's pilot.