The Ritchie Valens-American Legion connection

Thursday, 17 October 2019 08:00
Print reported this week that the state’s House of Representatives approved a bill to rename the Pacoima Post Office in honor of rock ‘n’ roll legend Ritchie Valens. But also noted in the article is where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member got his start: American Legion Post 176 in San Fernando, Calif.

According to various online sources, Valens was part of a band, the Silhouettes, that developed a big following in San Fernando and, particularly, the neighborhood of Pacoima. During a packed concert at Post 176 in 1958, the band was taped by a part-time talent scout working for Bob Keene (also known as bob Keane), who owned Keen Records. Upon hearing the tape, Keane became interested in Valens and eventually signed him to Keene’s newly formed Del-Fi Records.

Valens went on to fame for songs such as “Donna” and “La Bamba” before dying tragically in a plane crash in late January 1959 that also took the lives of Buddy Holly and J.P. Richardson, better known as "The Big Bopper.”

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