The View from the North: The Mexican-American Beat

Mexican-American singer Ritchie Valens. Photo: AARP


Mexican Americans have had a huge impact on U.S. culture, from heroic military service to excelling in business.

But they also had an influential role in modern U.S. music.

I want to take this occasion to remember two great Latino musicians born in May who had a lot of hits on the radio.

Let’s start with Richard Steven Valenzuela (Ritchie Valens) born on May 13, 1941. in Los Angeles.

Valens became one of the first Mexican-American rockers and the inspiration for “La Bamba,” a great movie from the late 1980s named after his greatest hit.

Valens’ story was also part of Don McClean’s “American Pie,” a song written in the early 1970s about the crash that killed Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens.

Valens was just 17 when he died on Feb. 3, 1959.

He was not around too long, but did record hits like “La Bamba,” “Donna,” “Come on Let’s Go” and “We Belong together.”

Another example of a great Mexican-American musician was Trini López, who was born in Dallas, Texas, on May 15, 1937.

López became a very popular singer in the 1960s.

One of his best songs was “If I Had a Hammer,” which he recorded in 1963.

López’  “Live at PJ’s” album was Number 2 on the Billboard Top 200 LP’s in the summer of 1963.

Trini just turned 83 and is enjoying his retirement.

Silvio Canto, Jr. is a Cuban-born U.S. citizen who teaches English at a north Texas college. He is the author of the book “Cubanos in Wisconsin” and has a daily online radio program and blog dealing with U.S. and Latin American politics, as well as sports and historic events, and is a regular contributor to American Thinker.

…May 18, 2020

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