Born in May 1941, in Pacoima, LA, Ritchie started his career at the age of sixteen with a band named ‘The Silhouettes’ as a guitarist. He was a left handed, but mastered the art of a right handed guitarist. He was known as one of the pioneers of ‘Rock and Roll’, ‘Chicano rock movement’ and ‘Latin rock’.
Ritchie received worldwide fame with his version of a Mexican folk song called ‘La Bamba’ released in 1958. The song, infused the traditional Mexican tune with a rock drive, ranked number 98 in VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of Rock and Roll and number 345 on Rolling Stone magazine?s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. This is the only non-English song to be listed.
Ritchie was still in his teens at the time of his demise caused by a plane crash. He was on a plane on February 2, 1959, after his performance in Clear Lake, Iowa, which crashed shortly after takeoff in a snow storm.
For someone who could have adorned the throne of fame and success in the realm of music, Ritchie’s death was tragic and untimely. His contribution to music though limited by his short lifetime, is remarkable and defining. Today we remember his death as ‘The Day the Music Died’.