Ritchie Valens

Birth Name: Richard Steve Valenzuela

Date of Birth: May 13, 1941

Place of Birth: Pacoima, Los Angeles, California, United States

Date of Death: February 3, 1959

Place of Death: Clear Lake, Iowa, U.S.

Ethnicity: Mexican [Spanish, Indigenous, African], one eighth Chilean

Ritchie Valens was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He was a rock and roll pioneer, and a forefather of the Chicano rock movement. He died in a plane crash with singers The Big Bopper and Buddy Holly, and pilot Roger Peterson. In the film La Bamba (1987), he was played by Lou Diamond Phillips.

Ritchie was the son of Beatrice (later Concepcion) Reyes and Joseph Steven Valenzuela.

Ritchie’s paternal grandfather was named Marciano Valenzuela. Marciano was a Mexican immigrant.

Ritchie’s paternal grandmother was Maria Agripina/Agrippina Ponce (the daughter of Luis Ponce and Maria Antonia “Sara” Lugo). Ritchie’s grandmother Maria was born in California. Luis was Chilean. Ritchie’s great-grandmother Maria Antonia’s ancestors were early Californian settlers from Mexico who were mestizos; some also had African ancestry. She was the daughter of José Trinidad de Jesús Lugo Fernández and María del Rosario Cipriana de las Llagas Domínguez Féliz.

Ritchie’s maternal grandfather was Francisco “Frank” Lopez Reyes (the son of Luis Reyes López and Josefa López Ocuna). Francisco was born in Nogales, Santa Cruz, Arizona Territory, to Mexican parents. Luis was the son of Dolores Reyes and Josefa López. Ritchie’s great-grandmother Josefa was the daughter of Francisco López and Concepción Ocuna.

Ritchie’s maternal grandmother was Refugia Yanez Lopez (the daughter of Refugio López and Eduviges Yáñez). Refugia was born in Arizona, to Mexican parents. Refugio was the son of Francisco López and Beatriz.

Sources: Genealogies of Ritchie Valens – http://www.geni.com

6 Responses

  1. madman says:

    What evidence is there of Ritchie’s African roots? I have looked at the provided link as well as familysearch (https://familysearch.org/tree/#view=ancestor&person=KL61-M61), and has only found ancestors born in Mexico, except one fifth great-grandfather, Jose Ygnacio Dominguez, born on Mallorca.
    Also, to be more clear, he is 1/8 Chilean.

    • fuzzybear44 says:


      Seeing that the avg Mexican mestizo has been proven to have African ancestry, do you have any proof that Valens doesn’t?

      • jackson9 says:

        “Do you have any proof that Valens doesn’t?” See this is the problem. the admins keep picking and choosing which rules they follow. For Cory Booker it was no Native American ancestry because it wasn’t documented, even though he is 7% by DNA. But Warren who is less than 1% (range of error) should be included because she “claimed it” and it would be “politically incorrect” now to not include it. Now we go to the question of since the average Mexican Mestizo has African ancestry the burden is on the users here to prove he doesn’t have distant African ancestry.

        • andrew says:

          No way Ritchie Valens had more African ancestry that European/Amerindian, this is ridiculous stuff.

          Maria Antonia “Sara” Lugo’s parents were listed as white on 1860 U.S. Census, so they unlikely were mulattoes

          On the other hand, Ritchie mother was possibly part African indeed.

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