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    Posted on Feb 4, 2015

    14 Reasons Ritchie Valens Remains A Rock 'N' Roll Legend

    Come on, let's go.

    1. His music stands the test of time.

    Public Domain / Creative Commons / Via

    Ritchie Valens died on Feb. 3, 1959, his career lasting mere months (he was signed to Del-Fi Records on May 27, 1958), but his music still resonates today.

    2. He wrote "Donna," which is probably the single sweetest tribute to a high school love.

    View this video on YouTube

    Del-Fi Records / Via

    The perfect song for slow-dancing while staring deep into someone's eyes, "Donna" was written for Ritchie's real-life girlfriend, Donna Ludwig. Sigh.

    3. You can't listen to "Come On, Let's Go" without wanting to dance.

    Del-Fi Records / Via

    Go on, try it. See? It's science.

    4. He took a traditional song, "La Bamba," and made it all his own.

    View this video on YouTube

    Del-Fi Records / Via

    5. And he looked adorably uncomfortable posing in front of a glittery backdrop.

    Michael Ochs Archives / Via Getty Images

    As would we all.

    6. He made sacrifices in order to do what he loved.

    Columbia Pictures / Via

    After he was signed to Del-Fi, the label's owner, Bob Keane, encouraged Ritchie to change his name from Richard "Richie" Valenzuela to Ritchie Valens, because 1) there were already "a bunch of 'Richies' around at that time," and 2) he wanted Ritchie to appeal to a wider audience, and felt his last name would hinder that. Nonetheless, he remains an icon whose Mexican-American heritage is recognized as an important part of his identity and music.

    7. Though his career was too brief, he continues to inspire artists decades after his death.

    View this video on YouTube

    Columbia Pictures / Via

    Genre-bending bands like Los Lobos (who appeared in La Bamba) and Los Lonely Boys continue to be influenced by Ritchie, and his music has been covered by the likes of The Ramones and The Misfits, among many others.

    8. He was truly a musical genius. / Via

    Ritchie was self-taught, experimenting with playing the guitar, the trumpet, and the drums at a young age, and experimenting with blending a number of musical influences from Mexico and the U.S.

    9. He appeared in the rock 'n' roll classic Go, Johnny Go!

    Moviepix / Via Getty Images

    Alongside some other people you may have heard Chuck Berry. Here's an image of Ritchie hanging out on the movie set, looking dapper.

    10. And he accomplished all this before even turning 18.

    Redferns RB / Via Getty Images

    He was a prodigy, through and through.

    11. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    Redferns Gilles Petard / Via Getty Images

    Not too shabby, Ritchie. (He's seen here posing with Del-Fi president Bob Keane. And having great hair.)

    12. Dude had style.

    Del-Fi Records
    Del-Fi Records


    13. La Bamba, a biopic about his career, family life, and death, is definitely worth your time.

    Columbia Pictures
    Columbia Pictures

    Lou Diamond Phillips, you the real MVP.

    14. He's the capitán.

    SuperDuty11 / Creative Commons / Via

    Never forget it.

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