Ritchie Valens was born Ricardo Esteban Valenzuela Reyes on May
13, 1941. He was raised in Pacoima, a neighborhood in the San Fernando
Valley region of Los Angeles. His parents were Joseph Steven Valenzuela
and Concepcion Reyes. He was encouraged by his father to take up guitar
and trumpet, and later taught himself the drums. In early 1959, Valens
was traveling the Midwest on a multi-act rock and roll tour dubbed "The
Winter Dance Party." Accompanying him were Buddy Holly with a new
back-up band, Tommy Allsup on guitar, Waylon Jennings on bass, and Carl
Bunch on drums; Dion and the Belmonts; J.P. "The Big Bopper"
Richardson; and Frankie Sardo. None of the other performers had backing
bands, so Buddy's backup band filled in for all the shows. Donna Fox,
Valens's girlfriend, is today still recognized as "Ritchie's Donna."
Her personalized license plate reads ODONNA Ritchie Valens was inducted
in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 After a concert on February 3,
1959, in Clear Lake Iowa, a charted plane went down killing all aboard.
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