Bruce Rits Gilbert

Song 46 - - Ritchie Valens / Los Lobos

My nephew, Ben (the Iron Man in Boulder), put up an Instagram story which had a few seconds of some great music in the background: Ritchie Valens singing Come on, Let's Go. Ben said that it came on the Buddy Holly station on Pandora. 

I hadn't listened to Come on, Let's Go in way too long. So I played it here at home. First, the original by Ritchie Valens, and then a great cover by Los Lobos. Both versions are fabulous. So I figured it was time to feature the song on this blog that nobody reads. (If you do read it, leave me a comment so that I know that you're here.)

Ritchie Valens is most famous for how he died. He, along with Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper (and the pilot Roger Peterson), died on The Day That The Music Died in the plane crash in the wee hours of the morning on February 3, 1959. Ritchie was not yet 18 years old. He was well on his way to stardom, having already had big hits with La Bamba and Donna, appearing in Alan Freed's movie, Go Johnny Go, and playing at shows with Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, The Everly Brothers, among others, and, of course, at the end touring with Buddy Holly as part of The Winter Dance Party tour. A movie about Ritchie Valens, La Bamba, starring Lou Diamond Phillips, was released in 1987. 

Most of the music in the movie, La Bamba, was performed by Los Lobos. I first heard of Los Lobos when they released Will the Wolf Survive in 1984. I bought the album, and I listened to it, like, everyday for several months. I loved their mix of Tex-Mex, country, blues and more. And their Mexican-influenced rock and roll was a unique and hard-to-resist sound. And then in 1987 Los Lobos got their biggest break by recording a bunch of Ritchie Valens covers for the La Bamba soundtrack. La Bamba (the cover song) reached number one on the pop charts, and Come On, Let's Go and Donna were also big hits. Los Lobos' major pop star success, though, was short-lived. Although they're still around, still fabulous musicians, still involved in a number of projects, and still tour, they haven't had a hit song since the Ritchie Valens covers. 

So to remember Ritchie Valens and honor Los Lobos, let's feature Come On, Let's Go. First, here is Ritchie Valens' version. Note the remarkable dancing (which I think was from the Alan Freed movie, Go Johnny Go) starting at about the 27 second mark of the video. And then here is Los Lobos doing its version of Come On, Let's Go in a live performance in NYC in 1987. The lead singer is David Hidalgo, who also plays rhythm and sometimes lead guitar, and the outstanding left-handed guitarist is Cesar Rosas. 

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