Happy Ritchie Valens Day!
On the heels of the Grammy Museum's attendance spike--thanks to their Michael Jackson exhibit--today its operators and curators celebrated, along with City Councilmembers Richard Alarcon, Tom LaBonge and Jan Perry, the declaration of the first Ritchie Valens Day.
For the past 15 years, the Fourth of July marked not just the holiday celebration at Hanson Dam near Valens' Pacoima home in the Northeast Valley, but also a correlating festival named in his honor (additionally, there is a city park named after him).
Back at the Grammy Museum, officials announced three new Valens artifacts: the shirt he wore in his first promo photo, his 1957 harmony guitar and the handwritten lyrics to his hit song, La Bamba (Valens' aunt actually wrote them down for him because his Spanish was not up to par).
Valens, 17 at the time, died on February 3rd, 1959 in a small plane crash in Iowa that is now known as the day music died. Buddy Holly and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson were also aboard. At today's ceremony, Tommy Allsup who played with Holly, spoke about how he and Valens flipped a coin for a seat on the plane--Valens had never flown before and won the seat.
Valens was one of the first to have a breakout Spanish rock and roll song and the Northeast San Fernando Valley wont' let that part of history be forgotten.