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PACOIMA : Park Will Be Renamed for Singer Ritchie Valens

Ritchie Valens, the Latino youth who was born in a blue-collar Pacoima neighborhood and grew up to become a rock ‘n’ roll legend, gained new distinction this week when a Los Angeles city commission agreed to rename a Pacoima park in his honor.

The unanimous vote by the Recreation and Parks Commission was applauded by a handful of Valens’ relatives and friends, some of whom wore T-shirts with his name and smiling face emblazoned across the front and back.

Valens, born Richard Valenzuela, gained fame in the 1950s and died at the age of 17 along with Buddy Holly and J. P. (the Big Bopper) Richardson in a 1959 plane crash that is still considered one of the greatest tragedies in pop music history.

Valens became a teen-age idol on the strength of such hits as “Come On, Let’s Go” and “Donna,” but is probably best remembered for “La Bamba.”

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He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1990 after the movie “La Bamba” recounted his life.


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