Richard Steve Valenzuela, 13 May 1941, Pacoima, Los Angeles, California, USA, d. 3 February 1959, Iowa, USA. Valens was the first major Hispanic-American rock star, the artist who popularized the classic 50s hit La Bamba. He grew up in the city of Pacoima, California, and was raised in poverty. His parents separated when he was a child and Valens lived with his father until the latters death in 1951. Afterwards he lived with his mother and brothers and sisters, but occasionally they stayed with other relatives who introduced him to traditional Mexican music. He also enjoyed cowboy songs by Roy Rogers and Gene Autry and began playing in junior high school. It was while attending school that Valens was first exposed to R&B music and rock n roll. In 1956 he joined the Silhouettes (not the group that recorded Get A Job), who performed at record hops in the San Fernando Valley area. Valens also performed solo and was heard...
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