The 1950s were a decade of music that changed the world. It was a time when high octane rock ‘n’ roll was unchecked and the possibilities were limitless for any musician. Many artists have come, including teenage sensation Ritchie Valens. Ritchie influenced the course of popular music. His two songs, the Bamba and Donna, dominated the charts in the late 1950s. He was so good at writing songs that the future was in his hands. Sadly, Ritchie didn’t live to face the sixties when Rock’n’Roll became the soundtrack of a younger generation defying the expectations of their parents.
Ritchie Valens was an American singer, guitarist and singer. He was the pioneer of Rock’n’Roll in the mid-1950s and the founding father of the Chicano rock movement. Ritchie began producing songs in 1957 and had sold over a million records by 1959. Sadly, Ritchie died on February 3, 1959 in a plane crash with other prominent musicians, an event that would become later The Day the Music Died.
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Ritchie Valens profile summary
- Last name and first name: Richard Steven Valenzuela
- Nickname: Ritchie
- Kind: Man
- Date of Birth: May 13, 1941
- Deceased: February 3, 1959
- Birth sign: Taurus
- Place of birth: Pacoima, Los Angeles, California, United States
- Age at death: 17
- Nationality: American
- Ethnicity: Mexican-Indian
- Eye colour: Dark brown
- Hair color: Dark brown
- Weight: 75 kilograms
- Height: 1.70 meters (5 feet 7 inches)
- Sexual orientation: Law
- Religion: Catholic
- Father: José Esteban Valenzuela (1896-1952)
- Mother: Design “Concha” Reyes (1915-1987)
- Brothers and sisters: 4 (Connie, Irma, Robert Morales, Mario Ramirez)
- Education: San Fernando High School, Pacoima High School (now Pacoima College)
- Job: Guitarist, singer, songwriter
- Kind: Rock and Roll, Chicano Rock
- Instruments: Guitar, vocals, drums, trumpet
- Active years: 1957-1959
- Twitter: @ RitchieValens59
- Instagram: @ritchievalensofficial
- Facebook: @The Ritchie Valens
- Website: ritchievalens.com
- Net value : $ 500,000
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Ritchie Steven was born Richard Steven Valenzuela on May 13, 1941 in Pacoima, Los Angeles, California, United States. His parents were José Esteban Valenzuela (father) and Concepción ‘Concha’ Reyes (mother). Valens’ father died in 1952 when the singer was 11, while his mother died in 1987.
Ritchie Valens’ parents were from Mexico and shared Indian ancestry. Steven was the second born in a family of five children. The names of Ritchie Valens’ siblings are Connie, Irma, Robert Morales and Mario Ramirez.
Ritchie Valens’ brother, Bob Morales, the oldest of the siblings, died in 2018 at the age of 81. Growing up, Steven attended Pacoima Junior High School, now Pacoima Middle School. He also studied at San Fernando High School.
Valens’ love of music began when he was five years old. He began to play the guitar and the trumpet and later learned the drums on his own. The singer even took his guitar to school and sang and played songs to his colleagues.
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Ritchie Steven was only 17 when he died. He dated a girl from a wealthy family called Donna Ludwig. She was 15 years old. Donna inspired Valens to release the song Donna in 1959. A year before its release, Valens had sung the song to him on the phone.
Steven started singing for Donna another hit song called We belong together. Although the song rose to fame even after Valens’ death, it was the couple’s song. The love shared between the two was so immense, despite their teenage years. Donna had a scrapbook with pictures of her and Valens when they were together.
Donna dated Valens against her father’s wishes. Steven came from a low income family and lived in a cabin across town. Donna’s father ran a Packard car dealership in Beverly Hills. As a result, she would sometimes sneak out of her bedroom window to meet Valens in San Fernando.
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Without her untimely death, Donna would likely have been Ritchie Valens’ wife. But Steven might also have dated another woman before his death. The woman was from New York named Diane Olson. She showed up at Ritchie Valens’ funeral and told the Valenzuela family that she was engaged to their late son. However, no one knew about Diane Olson, including Valens’ friends, family members, and agent.
Ritchie Steven started singing around the age of 15. He joined a group called The Silhouettes and performed concerts at local establishments. After that, people started to notice his talents, including Bob Keane, the boss of the record company Del-Fi Records.
Steven released his first song on Del-Fi records in 1958 titled Let’s go. The song became a minor hit because it was new to people. At that time, Keane advised the singer to shorten his name to Valens so that people remember it more easily.
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In 1958, Steven released two singles, the Bamba and Donna. Donna became the most popular ballad in the United States, reaching number two on the charts. But one thing unique with the Bamba is that even though it was a top 40 hit in the US charts, it also became a revolutionary song. People liked the Bamba because it merges two elements, rock and roll and Mexican folk music.
The double-sided A record of La Bamba and Donna were the last songs released by Valens. He has sold over a million records, winning a Gold Record from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Steven did not live to see the fruits of his labor as he died on February 3, 1959 in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, USA. The events of the day later became known as The Day of the Death of Music.
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Ritchie Valens Net Worth
Ritchie Steven was only active for two years in the music industry before his untimely death. But according to Celebrity Net Worth, Ritchie Valens’ net worth was $ 500,000. He had only released two albums in 1959.
Ritchie Valens Fast Facts
- Was Ritchie Valens really afraid of flying? Ritchie was afraid to fly after two planes collided over his school grounds, claiming the lives of three students and causing injuries. The events traumatized Ritchie, hence his fear of flying.
- What was Ritchie Valens worth when he died? Ritchie Valens had a net worth of $ 500,000 at the time of his death.
- What nationality is Ritchie Valens? Ritchie Valens was an American born in Pacoima, Los Angeles, California.
- Did Ritchie Valens really flip the coin? Ritchie Valens launched the play with musician Tommy Allsup to determine who would get on the plane and go around.
- What happened to Ritchie Valens Donna? Donna has two daughters and her name is Donna Fox-Coots. She lives in a small community near Sacramento and has been married three times.
- Who inherited the money from Ritchie Valens? Valens had signed a contract with his agent Bob Keane, allowing him to retain most of the singer’s musical rights.
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Ritchie Valens was an American singer, songwriter and guitarist. He was a pioneer of rock ‘n’ roll and well known as the founding father of the Chicano rock movement. Valens died on February 3, 1959 at the age of 17. Before his death, his estimated net worth was around $ 500,000.
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