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Mexican-American musician Ritchie Valens is best known for his hit "La Bamba." His successful career was cut short when he died in a plane crash at age 17.
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During a light snowstorm, the plane took off but it only traveled about five miles before crashing into a cornfield. All four passengers—Richardson, Holly, Valens and the pilot—were killed. As the news of the accident spread, many were shocked by the loss of these three talents. The tragedy was later memorialized in the Don McLean song "American Pie" as "The day the music died."
Only 17 years old when he died, Valens left behind a few recordings. His first, self-titled album was released shortly after the accident and did well on the charts. A live recording was later released as Ritchie Valens in Concert at Pacoima Junior HIgh. And his life story was memorialized on the big screen in the 1987 hit La Bamba, which introduced a new generation of music fans to the pioneering Latino performer. Lou Diamond Phillips played Valens, and the band Los Lobos recorded the soundtrack.
Valens was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
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