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La Bamba (1987)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama, Music  |  24 July 1987 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 20,193 users  
Reviews: 61 user | 17 critic

Biographical story of the rise from nowhere of early rock and roll singer Ritchie Valens who died at age 17 in a plane crash with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper.



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Title: La Bamba (1987)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Connie Valenzuela (as Rosana De Soto)
Rick Dees ...
Marshall Crenshaw ...
Howard Huntsberry ...
Daniel Valdez ...
Felipe Cantu ...
Eddie Frias ...
Geoffrey Rivas ...


This is the true story of Ritchie Valens, a young rock and roll singer who tragically died in a plane crash at age 17. The film follows Ritchie from his days in Pacoima, California where he and his family make a meager living working on farms to his rise as a star. The film also focuses on Ritchie's friendship and rivalry with his older brother Bob Morales and his relationship with Donna Ludwig, his girlfriend. Written by Mattias Pettersson <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Talent made him a star, fate made him a legend. The true story of Ritchie Valens. See more »


Biography | Drama | Music


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 July 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Let's Go  »

Box Office


$6,500,000 (estimated)


$54,215,416 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to Tommy Allsup (the one who "lost" the fateful coin toss), the toss occurred in the SURF ballroom and not on the airfield as depicted in the movie. See more »


When Ritchie flies to Philadelphia he is seen flying in a DC-3 which wasn't the type of plane that was making transcontinental flights in the late 50's. The interior mock up is enormous with what looks like a cathedral ceiling, huge seats and a wide aisle. TWA was flying SuperConstellations, United DC-7s, cheaper airlines DC6s. The Boeing 707's would come into service the next year (1958). See more »


Bob Morales: Don't be such a dreamer, man.
Ritchie Valens: My dreams are pure rock and roll.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Caption starting off the music credits: "We greatfully acknowledge the help and support of the Valenzuela family". See more »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Steve Carell/Usher (2008) See more »


Performed by Daniel Valdez
Words & Music by Daniel Valdez
See more »

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User Reviews

Oh,what could have been
16 April 2002 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Ritchie Valens was a young,vibrant rock and roll star.At 17,he could already write songs,sing,and was an absolute wizard with a guitar.I'm too young to remember the real Valens,but when I think of him,as well as other stars who died tragically young,I can't help but wonder what might have been.This young man was only getting started in his stardom when he was cut down all too soon in the same plane crash that claimed the lives of Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper.This film did a great job of bringing the legend of Valens back to life if only for a couple of hours.Lou Diamond Phillips gave the performance of his career here,as Valens,even though he didn't really look much like the real man in my opinion.Being the role he is best known for,I'm sure it is also one he has tried to escape from in the 15 years since its' release.As far as historical accuracy,I have heard discrepancies as to how the story really went,but you know Hollywood,things always have to be spiced up just a little.Overall,this movie is great fun,especially for old rock and roll enthusiasts such as myself.Thumbs up!

28 of 30 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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