Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” is on this year’s list of new inductees into the U.S. Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.
Valens, a first generation Mexican American and California native who spoke little Spanish, adapted a Mexican son jarocho into an infectious rock-and-roll song when he was just 17 years-old. Released in 1958, the infectious hit marked a milestone for Spanish-language music when it reached Billboard’s top 40 in 1959, just before Valens died in the airplane crash that also killed Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper. “La Bamba” went to No. 1 in 1987 in the version Los Lobos recorded as the theme for the Valens biopic of the same name.
“In spite of his brief life, Valens’ success brought a new sound to the mainstream and inspired generations of Chicano musician,” said an announcement from the Library of Congress.
Music by Jay-Z, Cyndi Lauper, the soundtracks of Hair and Schoolhouse Rock and 20 other inductees on this year’s list of recordings with “cultural, historical and aesthetic importance” deemed worthy of preservation by the National Recording Registry. See the complete list here.