La Bamba – Los Lobos

THIS DAY IN MUSIC………………………………………..on August 29th of 1987 The East LA band, Los Lobos had the number one single on Billboard’s Hot 100 this week with a remake of Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba”, from the movie of the same name.The movie was made with the assistance and blessing of the Valens family, and starred Lou Diamond Phillips as Ritchie. Marshall Crenshaw played Buddy Holly, Brian Setzer played Eddie Cochran, and Taylor Hackford was the director. The music in the film, including the new version of the title track, was performed by Los Lobos. Their version went to #1 in both the UK and US. When we spoke with Louie Perez of Los Lobos, he said that the Valens family asked them to do the film. “For us, it was to bring attention to him and his legacy,” he said. “We did it out of really believing in his story.” Thanks to the movie, this became Valens’ best known song, but it was far from his biggest hit: that would be “Donna,” which made it to #2. “La Bamba” was the B-side of that single, and it began a chart run when “Donna” faded, peaking at #22 a few days after Valens died. It was Valens’ producer, Bob Keane, who suggested a new version of “La Bamba” to use as the B-side of “Donna.” “La Bamba” is a traditional Mexican folk song popular at weddings and other celebrations. When Los Lobos recorded it for the 1987 biopic about Valens, their version became a massive hit and popularized the song with a new generation.Based in Los Angeles, Los Lobos formed in 1973 and released their first major-label album in 1984, which earned critical acclaim and a following for the band on the West Coast. This was the first #1 US hit with lyrics that were entirely in Spanish. Los Lobos write their own songs and cross many musical genres, so when “La Bamba” became their best-known work, it put them at risk for typecasting. “We didn’t want to slick our hair back and wear puffy sleeves,” said their guitarist Cesar Rosas. Making sure they followed their own path, they used the financial windfall to finance an album of traditional Mexican songs called La Pistola y el Corazón, which was released in 1988.