A stretch of the Golden State (5) Freeway in the northeast San Fernando Valley will be renamed in honor of rock ‘n’ roll legend Ritchie Valens, thanks to a bill approved by the state Legislature.
“His music inspired and influenced a generation of Chicano artists in our community and throughout the world. It’s only fitting to name this segment of the I-5 after a Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer who grew up right here in Pacoima,” Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Pacoima, said Thursday in announcing the legislation’s passage.
The legislation renames I-5 between state Routes 170 and 118 freeways “The Ritchie Valens Memorial Highway.”
Valens attended Pacoima High School and becoming a hit recording artist when he was discovered in 1958 at the American Legion Hall. He appeared on the then-popular TV show “American Bandstand” and recorded such hits as “Come On, Let’s Go” and “Donna.” His records sold more than a million copies.
Valens died at the age of 17 on Feb. 3, 1959, in a plane crash that also took the lives of Buddy Holly and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. He was the subject of the 1987 feature film “La Bamba.”
“Ritchie became a rock ‘n’ roll icon at the age of 17,” Valens’ sister, Connie, said. “He’s not only a rock ‘n’ roll pioneer but a role model for artists and youth all over the world.”