Ritchie Valens' Image Reborn With New Licensing Deal
Valens’ branded La Bamba Cola, limited edition guitars and video games part of merchandising strategy to bring Latino rock-n-roll pioneer to young audiences
La Bamba Cola, on-line video games and limited-edition guitars are some of the products planned to bring revive the popularity of Ritchie Valens. The new licensing and merchandising deal by Southern California-based C3 Entertainment marks the first time that the image of the teenage Latino rock pioneer -- who died with Buddy Holly in a 1959 plane crash -- will be promoted through an official licensing initiative sanctioned by Valens’ family.
“More than a retro endeavor, the multicultural aspect of Valens’ licensing program is pivotal,” Ani Khachoian, C3 Entertainment’s Executive Vice President of Licensing, Merchandising and Distribution, told Billboard via email. “We want to make sure every fan has the opportunity to rediscover this rock ’n’ roll icon, and that we introduce Valens to new audiences. He was a talented, positive young man, who worked hard. It’s a wonderful legacy for young people.”
C3 also represents the legacy of The Big Bopper, who died in the snowy crash with Valens and Holly while on their Winter Dance Party tour. In addition, C3 created the licensing program for John Mueller’s Winter Dance Party, a current touring tribute show featuring Mueller -- who starred in The Buddy Holly Story stage musical -- performing as Holly, with other artists paying homage to Valens and the Big Bopper.
Valens, best known for his hit “La Bamba,” signed to Del-Fi Records in 1958 and recorded two albums, releasing singles that included “Donna,” which reached no. 2 on the Billboard pop chart. The 1978 movie La Bamba, starring Lou Diamond Phillips with music performed by Los Lobos, brought Valens’ story to new audiences; the soundtrack album sold 2 million copies in the United States.
C3’s Khachoian says that a La Bamba Cola beverage is set to be manufactured and distributed by the Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shops chain. Online games, clothing and collectibles are also in the works. “We’re passionate about securing limited-edition guitars - Valens played several different models of guitars,” Khachoian adds. “We are also positioning him for advertising and live events.”