La Bamba

“My mom reckons I’m going to be a star. And stars don’t fall from the sky…”

Most of us know how the story ended–– how, at the height of their musical careers in February 1959, Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens died in a plane crash in an Iowa field.

If nothing else, you’ve certainly heard Don McLean’s ode to the trio, “American Pie”.

In 1987 (just nine years after Buddy Holly got his movie) we finally got to see the rest of Valens’ story.

La Bamba is still one of our favorite 80s movies (we’re sure our parents had something to do with that)–– the fascinating story of a young man (17 when he died) who wanted to be a rock star… and who made it happen.

Lou Diamond Phillips was unknown when he was cast as Valens (other than bit parts on Miami Vice and Dallas), but he took the role and completely hit it out of the park, and Valens’ life was finally given the tribute it deserved.

The movie, which had the full blessing of the Valenzuelas (Ritchie’s real surname), also starred Esai Morales as Ritchie’s jealous brother, and Joe Pantoliano as his manager. From Ritchie’s early days as a migrant farm worker though to his way-too-short musical career (it only lasted eight months), La Bamba gave us some great insight.

Among the highlights: his too-cute courtship of pretty Donna (yes, she of “Donna” fame), the trip to Mexico (with his brother) that introduced Ritchie to a little folk song called “La Bamba”, and the scene in the studio when he records “Come On, Let’s Go”; it still has us laughing whenever we think about it.

La Bamba actually did okay for itself at the box office, finishing at #15 for the year (1987) and bringing in a little over $50 million. With music by Los Lobos (along with Brian Setzer and Marshall Crenshaw) and excellent performances all around, this tale of ‘the day the music died’ will live on for quite a while.

We ♥ La Bamba.

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~ by weheart80s on July 2, 2012.

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