Richard Steven Valenzuela (May 13, 1941 – February 3, 1959), better known by his stage name Ritchie Valens, was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter. A rock and roll pioneer and a forefather of the Chicano rock movement, Valens was killed in a plane crash just eight months into his music career.Valens had several hits, most notably "La Bamba", which he had adapted from a Mexican folk song. Valens transformed the song into one with a rock rhythm and beat, and it became a hit in 1958, making Valens a pioneer of the Spanish-speaking rock and roll movement. He also had an American number-two hit with "Donna". On February 3, 1959, on what has become known as "The Day the Music Died", Valens died in a plane crash in Iowa, an accident that also claimed the lives of fellow musicians Buddy Holly and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, as well as pilot Roger Peterson. Valens was 17 years old at the time of his death. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, The Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame, The California Hall of Fame, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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