Remembering Ritchie Valens, superstar pocho pride of Pacoima

Not a sailor

Today marks the sad anniversary of “the day the music died,” the 1959 airplane crash that took the lives of rock stars Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens.

Valens, from the L.A. suburb of Pacoima, was born Richard Steven Valenzuela and some consider him the father of Chicano rock. Pocho Valens didn’t espeak Espanish, so he sang the lyrics to La Bamba from a phonetic cheat sheet.

Click for music videos of Chantilly Lace from the Bopper, Peggy Sue by Holly and the actual Valens La Bamba recording sessions, plus a Don McLean performance of The Day the Music Died.

The session

The hit