Ritchie Valens legacy keeps growing

ritchievalens-631x420.jpgIt has been a few years since I posted anything to mark the the date, Feb. 3, 1959, of the airplane crash in Iowa that killed rock stars Buddy Holly and J. P. Richardson and, from Los Angeles, Ritchie Valens. But I recently got introduced to Girl In A Coma, a band from San Antonio that played for most of a decade before recently breaking up. They cover a couple of Ritchie Valens songs. I had to appreciate the legacy.

Think of it. Valens was just 17 years old when he died in that crash, a Chicano from Pacoima in the San Fernando Valley. He had a couple of hit songs in 1958 and 59, but he had been on the music scene for just over a year. Only a couple of LA radio stations even played his music in those days. Yet a half a century later, a Tejana named Nina Diaz totally owns his song, "Come On, Let's Go." And the house sings along with her. Diaz was about 21 for this performance.

The band's cleaned-up studio version is good but not quite as thrilling. Girl In a Coma also performed another Valens song, "We Belong Together," at a 2008 concert at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre here in LA.

Anyway, here's Ritchie's recorded version of "Come On, Let's Go."

And to further appreciate that Ritchie Valens is remembered well beyond Pacoima, here are students singing along to "LA Bamba" with a street busker in Paris.

Bonus video (audio only): Ritche Valens at a student assembly at Pacoima Junior High School on Dec. 10, 1958. "Now a success story of one of last year's graduates of Pacoima," says the student who introduces Valens. This is a different version of "Come On, Let's Go."

Ritchie Valens in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

More by Kevin Roderick:
'In on merit' at USC
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Google taking over LA's deadest shopping mall
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Recent Music stories on LA Observed:
How to escape social grit and grime: hear the music, see the dance
Cinderella goes to war, Benjamin Britten shares the blitz
Kosher Nostra reunites: Music makers in all their unfaded glory
Red Hot Chili Peppers and Santa
Gandhi and Glass, Shakespeare and Prokofiev brought to life
Photos: Joni Mitchell tribute concert downtown
'Don Carlo' speaks to today, as does Los Angeles Philharmonic at 100
A "Rigoletto" to revel in, plus Dudamel and Uchida