45 rpm of True Love Ways by Buddy Holly
True Love Ways by Buddy Holly
February 2, 2018
Golden Oldies Juke Box Saturday Night
Golden Oldies Juke Box Saturday Night 166
February 3, 2018
Ritcie Valens Donna and La Bamba

Rock and Roll with a Latin Beat

Ritchie Valens was born Richard Steven Valenzuela on May 13, 1941, in Pacoima, California. He is a rock and roll pioneer and forefather of Chicano rock with his work as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Part of his legacy will always be tied to “the day the music died” (that is, the phrase coined by Don McLean in the lyrics for his song “American Pie“) on February 3, 1959, when he perished in a plane crash in Clear Lake Iowa, with other rock and roll artists Buddy Holly and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and the pilot Roger Peterson. Valens was only 17 years old. His songs “Donna” and “La Bamba” have become golden oldies music favorites.

Valens wrote the song “Donna” for his girlfriend Donna Ludwig. They were both students at San Fernando High School, CA, and had met at party where Valens was playing. The story is that he told her about the song, but the first time she heard it was on the radio in her car with her girlfriends, and she was thrilled. In 1959, “Donna” reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The B-Side of the single was “La Bamba.”

There have been numerous covers of the song. There was the version by Los Lobos, which was for the soundtrack to the 1987 biopic of Ritchie Valens titled La Bamba.  Other artists who have covered the song include Marty Wilde, Johnny Crawford, Bobby Fuller, Clem Snide, Cliff Richard, The Fleetwoods, The Youngbloods, Donnie Osmond, Misfits, MxPx, Reel Big Fish, Hep Stars, and Bobby Vee. Wu-Tang affiliate Cappadonna sampled the refrain in “Oh-Donna.”

Here are the lyrics to “Donna” by Ritchie Valens:

“Oh, Donna
Oh, Donna
Oh, Donna
Oh, Donna

I had a girl
Donna was her name
Since she left me
I’ve never been the same

‘Cause I love my girl
Donna, where can you be?
Where can you be?

Now that you’re gone
I’m left all alone
All by myself
To wander and roam

‘Cause I love my girl
Donna, where can you be?
Where can you be?

Oh, darlin’, now that you’re gone
I don’t know what I’ll do
All the time and all my love
For you

I had a girl
Donna was her name
Since she left me
I’ve never been the same

‘Cause I love my girl
Donna, where can you be?
Where can you be?

Oh, Donna
Oh, Donna
Oh, Donna
Oh, Donna”

In the song “La Bamba,” Valens broke some ground in rock and roll music with his combination of a traditional Mexican folk song from the State of Veracruz with a rock and roll beat and instrumentation. “La Bamba” is on Rolling Stone Magazine‘s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” and is the only song listed in a language other than English (i.e., Spanish). The tune is traditional, while the words are open to improvisation. The personnel on the record are Valens (vocals and guitar), Buddy Clark (string bass), Ernie Freeman (piano), Carol Kaye (rhythm guitar), Rene Hall (bass guitar), and Earl Palmer (drums). The version by Valens was recorded in 1958 and went to #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #49 on the U.K. Singles Chart. Popularity of the song has endured, not only because of the notoriety and sadness surrounding his death, but through the 1987 film La Bamba. The version by Los Lobos, which was featured in the film, rose to #1 on the U.S. and the U.K. charts.

Valens has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2001, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame. If you would like to learn more about his life, please consider watching the movie: La Bamba

If you would like to read about The Big Bopper, please click here or about Buddy Holly, please click here.

For More Golden Oldies Music

The Daily Doo Wop Rec Room has daily featured doo wop, rock and roll, R&B, or rockabilly songs that were hits during the first era of rock and roll (that is, from about 1952 until the British invasion in 1964). After a song is featured, it then goes into the juke box. You are welcome to listen to any of the 40+ selections there. Every weekend, there is a Golden Oldies Juke Box Saturday Night, and the juke box is full of song requests from the 1950s and 1960s.

Please click here for our Youtube channel, to which you can subscribe. Thank you for stopping by The Daily Doo Wop. Hope you enjoyed “Donna” and “La Bamba” by Ritchie Valens.

4 Comments

  1. Della says:

    Hi, great website for rock and roll and doo wop music! I always loved Ritchie Valens. My favorite was “Donna.”

  2. Tiago says:

    Great way to look at Buddy Holly, and many in the music inrustdy have wodnered where he would have taken it. He was innovative and wanted to experiment. In his last studio recording sessions in October 1958 he used orchestral backing in laying down the tracks True Love Ways , I Guess It Doesn’t Matter Anymore ,and Raining In My Heart The latter two tracks were his first stereo recordings. Reminiscing Charles Hardin HolleySincerely,Elvis

  3. Stripe says:

    Doo Wop, the greatest sounding music to ones ear.

  4. Bob Phillips says:

    Top 20: The great Ritchie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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