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California Legislature Renames Section of 5 Freeway For Ritchie Valens

by VVN Music

The great Ritchie Valens, who died in the same plane crash as Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper, has had a section of California's 5 Highway named after him.

The section, located in the northeast San Fernando Valley, will be called "The Ritchie Valens Memorial Highway" and was proposed by assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, a Democrat from Pacoima.

Bocanegra said "His music inspired and influenced a generation of Chicano artists in our community and throughout the world. It’s only fitting to name this segment of the I-5 after a Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer who grew up right here in Pacoima."

Valens career started in May 1958, just nine months before his untimely death. His first single for Del-Fi, "Come On , Let's Go", became a minor hit, going to 42 on the charts although it was later recognized for it influence on future artists.  He followed in late 1958 with the double sided hit "Donna" (1948 / #2) and "La Bamba" (1958 / #22).

On February 2, 1959, Ritchie died at the age of 17.  He charted two more times after his death but neither was a big hit. A whole new generation of fans developed with the release of the biopic La Bamba in 1987.