29¢ Ritchie Valens
Legends of American Music
Issue Date: June 16, 1993
City: Cleveland, OH or Santa Monica, CA
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
Only 17 when he died in the fatal plane crash that killed Buddy Holly and J.P. Richardson, Ritchie Valens was already one of the legends of the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll. Had he lived he likely would have been one of the most important artists of the 60’s.
Growing up near Los Angeles, California, young Richard Valenzuela showed a keen interest in music. Sitting with his uncles and cousins at family gatherings he learned to play the guitar, and his fascination with music grew. While in high school he joined local bands and began performing at dances and parties, sometimes presenting his own material.
In 1958 he recorded “Come On Let’s Go”, a song that became a regional hit and gained him a teen audience in other parts of the country. Shortly thereafter he wrote and recorded “Donna”, which rapidly climbed the 1958 charts to become a top-10 hit. Backed by his classic version of “La Bamba”, the recording earned a gold record for over one million copies sold. Today “La Bamba” has become a rock standard and is one of the few examples of Latin rock. In 1987, a movie by the same name was produced, and once again Ritchie was alive and well in memories of those who knew him.