Today is the birthday of the sadly short-lived Richie Valens (1941-1959), stolen from the world in the same plane crash that took Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. Since Valens was only 17 years old, and his recorded output even at that tender age was so excellent, I think it can safely be said that the world was robbed of someone very promising. Already having broken ground for the image of Mexican Americans in a career spanning only a few months, can you imagine what he would have achieved with his obvious talent if he lived a full life span?
At any rate, you don’t need me to link you to “La Bamba” this morning. It’s not Valens’ fault, but “La Bamba” has been shoved down our throats well past the breaking point — I never need to hear the record again, it is etched into my brain with battery acid. Instead, I’ll set you up with another of his hits which I’ve always kind of liked better anyway, sounds kind of archetypically “fifties”:
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc