Ritchie Valens’ Hometown Post Office to be Named After Him

Ritchie Valensis getting a special stamp of approval… 

President Donald Trump has signed a resolution renaming a Los Angeles area post office after the late rock ‘n’ roll legend, whose real name is Richard Steven Valenzuela.

Ritchie Valens

The Los Angeles Daily Newsreported that Pacoima Post Office will be named the Ritchie Valens Post Office Building.

Democratic Rep. Tony Cardenasintroduced the resolution to rename the facility, along with another to rename the Van Nuys Post Officeafter Marilyn Monroe.

Valens attended San Fernando High Schooland was discovered in 1958 at the American Legionhall in Pacoima. His hits included “La Bamba,” an adaptation of a Mexican folk song. A film about his life with the same title was released in 1987.

A rock and roll pioneer and a forefather of the Chicano rock movement, Valens’ recording career lasted eight months and abruptly ended when he died in a plane crash at the age of 17 alongside Buddy Holly and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardsonin 1959.

Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” Inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry

Ritchie Valenshas earned a special place in U.S. recording history…

The late Mexican American singer/songwriter’s groundbreaking 1958 sensation “La Bamba”is one of the newest recordings inducted into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress

Ritchie Valens

Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the Librarian, with advice from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board (NRPB), is tasked with annually selecting 25 titles that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant,” and are at least 10 years old.

Valens, who was born Richard Valenzuelain Los Angeles in 1941, spoke English as his first language. Though he never mastered Spanish, he learned Spanish songs from his Mexican-American family, including “La Bamba,” a song from the Mexican state of Veracruz that was a favorite dance piece at weddings. 

Valens’ amplified guitar and power chords were a long way from the acoustic string band sounds of Mexico, but he successfully transposed the feeling and rhythm of the song to the back beat of early rock and roll. It was released as the b-side of his second single “Donna” in late 1958, and had become a hit on its own when he died at the age of 17 on February 3, 1959, in a plane crash that also took the lives of Buddy Hollyand J.P. Richardson, “The Big Bopper.” In spite of his brief life and a recording career that only lasted eight months, Valens’ success brought a new sound to the mainstream and inspired generations of Chicano musicians.

Los Lobos released its version of the song in 1987. “As a young boy growing up in East Los Angeles, I was curious and ultimately impressed by a rock song sung in Spanish — that song was ‘La Bamba’ by Ritchie Valens,” said Louie Pérez, one of the founding members and guitarist for Los Lobos. “It continues to be a hallmark in American music and an influence on all Latino music that followed.”

Spanish cellist, composer, and conductor Pablo Casals’ 1939 reimagining of the Bach cello suites was selected in the classical category. Raphaël Merlin, cellist of the acclaimed Ébène Quartet External, said: “There is a prophetic aspect to Pablo Casals’s work—he revealed his recording of the six Bach Cello Suites, and they instantly became our bible, and continue to offer revelations to cellists even to this day. At the same time, he also made a practical case for these works as an ideal way for a musician to exercise his or her mind, cultivate healthy playing technique, study counterpoint, and more. However you look at them, his recording of the suites still sounds like the opening of a new era.”

The new recordings to the National Recording Registry bring the total number of titles on the registry to 525, a small part of the Library’s vast recorded-sound collection of nearly 3 million items.

Here’s a look at the 25 recordings that were selected for inclusion in the registry in 2018:

2018 National Recording Registry

  1. Yiddish Cylinders from the Standard Phonograph Company of New York and the Thomas Lambert Company (c. 1901-1905)
  2. “Memphis Blues” (single), Victor Military Band (1914)
  3. Melville Jacobs Collection of Native Americans of the American Northwest (1929-1939)
  4. “Minnie the Moocher” (single), Cab Calloway (1931)
  5. “Bach Six Cello Suites” (album), Pablo Casals (c. 1939)
  6. “They Look Like Men of War” (single), Deep River Boys (1941)
  7. “Gunsmoke” — Episode: “The Cabin” (Dec. 27, 1952)
  8. Ruth Draper: Complete recorded monologues, Ruth Draper (1954-1956)
  9. “La Bamba” (single), Ritchie Valens (1958)
  10. “Long Black Veil” (single), Lefty Frizzell (1959)
  11. “Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, Vol. 1: The Early Years” (album), Stan Freberg (1961)
  12. “GO” (album), Dexter Gordon (1962)
  13. “War Requiem” (album), Benjamin Britten (1963)
  14. “Mississippi Goddam” (single), Nina Simone (1964)
  15. “Soul Man” (single), Sam & Dave (1967)
  16. “Hair” (original Broadway cast recording) (1968)
  17. Speech on the Death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy (April 4, 1968)
  18. “Sweet Caroline” (single), Neil Diamond (1969)
  19. “Superfly” (album), Curtis Mayfield (1972)
  20. “Ola Belle Reed” (album), Ola Belle Reed (1973)
  21. “September” (single), Earth, Wind & Fire (1978)
  22. “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” (single), Sylvester (1978)
  23. “She’s So Unusual” (album), Cyndi Lauper (1983)
  24. “Schoolhouse Rock!: The Box Set” (1996)
  25. “The Blueprint” (album), Jay-Z (2001)

Esai Morales to Star in DC’s “Titans” Series

Esai Morales has landed a Titan-ic role…

The 56-year-old Puerto Rican actor has been cast in the series Titans.

Esai Morales

He’ll portray Deathstroke, the fan-favorite assassin and archenemy of Teen Titans leader Dick Grayson.

The Titans, the first original programming franchise for the DC Universe subscription steaming site, launched in September and finished its first season in December. The weekly show follows the superhero squad that’s led by Batman’s former sidekick, Robin, aka Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites), and includes the hot-tempered alien princess Starfire (Anna Diop), the mysterious empath Raven (Teagan Croft), and the green-skinned shape-shifter Beast Boy (Ryan Potter).

That Titans line-up of characters was introduced with much fanfare in the pages of DC Comicsback in 1980. The team, created by Marv Wolfmanand George Perez, didn’t have to wait long to find their signature antagonist: Deathstroke the Terminatorwas introduced in issue No. 2 of The New Teen Titans in December 1980.

The character bio from the show’s producers: “Slade Wilson is known for being DC’s deadliest assassin. While serving his country, Slade became an elite soldier before government testing enhanced his physiology to near superhuman levels, putting him on a path of darkness and revenge. To his family, Slade is a father and husband, but to the rest of the world, he is feared by many as the infamous Deathstroke; selling his services to the highest bidder as the ruthless assassin that never gives up and never misses.”

The character is well known to fans of the popular Teen Titans animated series from Cartoon Network as well as the show’s 2018 tie-in feature film Teen Titans Go! to the MoviesDeathstrokehas also been portrayed by Manu Bennett in 36 episodes of The CWseries Arrow while Joe Manganiello (True Blood) appeared as the assassin in the 2017 feature film Justice League but only with an uncredited cameo.

The DC Comics character represents an interesting footnote in Marvel Comicshistory. The character Deadpool, portrayed by Ryan Reynoldsin the popular R-rated Foxfilm franchise, was created by Fabian Niciezaand Rob Liefeldin 1990 as a thinly disguised version of the DC villain. Not only do the characters share similar costumes, Deadpool’s alias is Wade Wilson, which in fact rhymes with Slade Wilson.

Adding a bit more confusion, both Deadpool and Deathstroke have similar attributes to Deadshot, a DC Comics villain introduced in the 1970s and portrayed by Will Smithon the big screen in Suicide Squad in 2016.

Morales, rose to acclaim in his feature film breakthrough role as Bob Morales in Taylor Hackford’s La Bamba, the landmark 1985 biopic about Ritchie Valens.

Morales’ feature film credits include Bad BoysMi FamiliaFast Food NationThe LineThe Disappearance of Garcia Lorcaand Gun Hill Road, a film he executive produced and starred in. Gun Hill Road was a grand Jury Nominee at the Sundance Film Festivalin 2011. Most recently he starred in Sony’s Superfly and the indie film The Wall of Mexico.

Morales’ recent television credits include Ozark (Netflix), Mozart In The Jungle (Amazon Prime), Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO), and Chicago PD (NBC). Morales also had notable credits over the years on shows such as NYPD Blue (ABC), Miami Vice (NBC), Fame (NBC) Law and Order: SVU (NBC), Caprica (Syfy), and Criminal Minds (CBS).

Los Lobos to Receive BMI Icon Award

The members of Los Lobos are reuniting for a special honor…

The multiple Grammy-winning rock band from East Los Angeles, best known for their hit version of “La Bamba,” will receive the BMI Icon Award during the organization’s 24th annual Latin Awards.

Los Lobos

The event, to be hosted by BMI president & CEO Mike O’Neill and Delia Orjuela, BMI VP of Latin Writer/Publisher Relations, will be held March 21 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Formed in 1973 by David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Louie Perez and Conrad Lozano — fellow students at Garfield High School in East L.A. — Los Lobos (the group also includes Steve Berlin and Enrique Gonzalez), have been doing Latin music long before Latin music was cool, blending rock ‘n roll with Chicano roots.

The group, bilingual and bicultural before the concept became a buzzword, rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987 with their cover of Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba,” the same year they won a Grammy in the-then newly instated category of Best Mexican American Performance for the song “Anselma.”

Los Lobos’ exploration of the musical landscape has continued unabated, spanning Latin, folk, rock and even R&B. They’ve collected three Grammy awards along the way, plus Billboard’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.

The BMI Icon Award, whose past recipients include Gloria Estefan, Paul Simon, Dolly Parton and Carlos Santana, is presented to songwriters who have had unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.

“Los Lobos have been musical ambassadors to the Mexican-American community,” said BMI’s Orjuela in a statement. “Their music reflects the diversity and musical heritage of America, weaving together blues, rock, norteño, and cumbia.”

During the March 21 ceremony, BMI will also honor the Latin songwriter, song and publisher of the year plus the writers and publishers of BMI’s most-performed songs of the past year.

This will also mark the first time ever that BMI expands its criteria for determining winners; in addition to terrestrial radio performances, data will also include streaming and satellite radio.

Valens the Subject of a New Licensing & Merchandising deal with C3 Entertainment

Ritchie Valens is making a posthumous comeback…

The late Mexican American “La Bamba” singer’s popularity may increase in the coming months with products like La Bamba Cola, on-line video games and limited-edition guitars.

Ritchie Valens

Valens — who died with Buddy Holly in a 1959 plane crash — will be promoted through an official licensing and merchandising deal with Southern California-based C3 Entertainment.

It marks the first time that the image of the teenage Latino rock pioneer 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.

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.”

Castillo Sings the Biebs to Victory on “The Voice”

Julio Cesar Castillo lives to sing another day on The Voice

During his Knockout Round battle against fellow Team Blake member MarissaAnn on Tuesday’s episode of NBC’s singing competition, the 21-year-old mariachi singer stepped up his game with a Biebs attack.

Julio Cesar Castillo

While MarissaAnn performed the Labelle’s “Lady Mar

malade,” a song which earned Christina Aguilera a Grammy in 2002, the Chicago mariachi singer performed Justin Bieber’s “Somebody to Love.”

“It’s out of my comfort zone,” acknowledged Castillo, who had previously wowed the judges with his renditions of Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” and Gloria Estefan’s “Conga,” “but it’s a side of my voice I definitely want to show the coaches.“

It’s a big risk that ultimately paid off… After two great performances that the other coaches called “dead even,” Blake Shelton ultimately named Castillo the winner of the clash, sending him to the next round.

“Right now I feel invincible,” professed Castillo. “I feel like my dream is finally coming true!”

Castillo will now compete in The Voice’s live rounds, which are set to begin next week.

Morales to Appear on Starz’s “Magic City”

Esai Morales is about to feel the magic

The 49-year-old Puerto Rican actor has signed to star in Starz‘s Miami-set period drama Magic City.

Esai Morales

Set in 1959 Miami just after the Cuban Revolution, Magic City tells the story of Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the owner of Miami’s glitzy Miramar Playa hotel, who is forced to make a deal with local mob boss Ben Diamond (Danny Huston).

Morales, an NYPD Blue alum, will play Carlos Ruiz, a former rebel who once fought beside Castro but now works to free Cuba from the man he once considered a brother.

Morales—who rose to acclaim for his role as Ritchie Valens’ troubled brother in the 1987 biopic La Bamba—recently recurred on Fairly Legal and Caprica.

Filming on Season 2 of Magic City starts this week in Miami for a 2013 premiere.

Returning are creator/executive producer Mitch Glazer and cast members Morgan, Olga Kurylenko, Yul Vazquez, Dominik Garcia-Lorido and Elena Satine.

Castillo Becomes First to Audition with Spanish Song on “The Voice”

It’s hard to believe in the first two seasons of NBC’s The Voice not a single potential-contestant had auditioned by singing a completely Spanish song.

But that all changed during the second episode of the hit reality show’s third season…

Julio Cesar Castillo

During Tuesday night’s blind auditions, Julio Cesar Castillo—a lifelong mariachi singer—performed Ritchie Valens’ iconic hit “La Bamba.”

“I started singing at the age of three, when I was around six, I fell in love with mariachi,” Castillo told the cameras before his audition. “For the last couple of years, I’ve been playing in a mariachi band three nights a week to support my family. In my family, me, my mom and my younger sister are the only one’s working right now. My dad was diagnosed with epilepsy. But it’s my time to do something more.”

Christina Aguilera & Julio Cesar Castillo

The self-proclaimed “Mariachi Man,” who hails from Chicago, performed the entire song in Spanish… a big risk that paid off. Not only did Castillo bring the audience to its feet, he inspired a bidding war between The Voice coaches Blake Shelton and Cee Lo Green. (Surprisingly, Christina Aguilera didn’t turn her chair, even though she performed some air-maraca moves while listening to Castillo’s performance.)

Shelton immediately turned his chair around, and Green followed suit at the very end.

“You saw how quickly I turned around. I just think you have a very strong and technically good voice, it’s very powerful,” Shelton told Castillo. He then went on to talk about how Castillo’s letterman-like jacket reminded him of being in a school gym, and told Castillo to picture a banner hanging on the side of a gym saying “Blake Shelton, Season Two winner” to motivate him to pick him over Green, which Castillo did.

The Voice’s social media correspondent Christina Milian seemed to appreciate Castillo becoming the first contestant to audition with a song entirely in Spanish.

“I love that we’re showing some #LatinLove on #TheVoice this season!,” tweeted the Latina singer. “@JulioCCastle is killing it with the Mariachi vocals!”

Castillo, who learned to play the guitar at 10 and also plays the saxophone, writes on his Twitter page: “Madly in love with music and hope to some day live the dream I’ve had my whole life.”

It appears he’s officially living the dream as part of Team Blake on NBC’s The Voice.