Los Lobos Do The Bamba

A salute to Ritchie Valens in this week's Forgotten Videos
  • Los Lobos in "La Bamba"
May 05, 2011 -- 11:10 am PDT
GRAMMY.com

Welcome to Forgotten Videos. Well, for some forgotten, for others just filed away, and for others still, a totally brand-new discovery. Whichever category you fall into, each week we'll feature a video that's possibly been collecting dust when what it really deserves is a fresh look. Or vice versa…. We're not here to judge, we just want to take you on a little trip down memory lane. Yep, you'll remember when hair was really that big, when drums were that up front in the mix, when video was young(er) and so were you.

Los Lobos
"La Bamba"
1987

In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, we take a look back at arguably one of the most storied Spanish-language rock and roll songs in history: "La Bamba." Recorded for the 1987 film of the same name, Los Lobos' take on this classic Mexican folk song pays an unquestionably solid tribute to one of the first Hispanic rock stars, the late Ritchie Valens. While Valens may have been ahead of his time with his version of the song, which just missed cracking the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 that year, it was the right time for Los Lobos, who took it all the way to No. 1 in 1987. Valens' version was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2000.

The video opens with a scene featuring Valens, played by Lou Diamond Phillips, and Danielle von Zerneck, who portrays Valens' girlfriend, Donna Ludwig, the inspiration for Valens' Billboard Hot 100 No. 2 hit "Donna." Interspersed throughout the video are scenes from the film, which, along with Phillips, casts several musical notables, including singer/songwriter Marshall Crenshaw as Buddy Holly, famed radio DJ Rick Dees and rockabilly/swing namesake Brian Setzer as Eddie Cochron. The theme ultimately centers on a celebratory performance by Los Lobos at a summer carnival, and features a special cameo appearance by Phillips. In honor of the late rocker, the band stays true to Valens' vocal phrasing, but adds a bit of extra flavor with an updated guitar solo and closing acoustic mariachi suite.

Formed in East Los Angeles in the early '70s and heavily influenced by the sounds of Tex-Mex, country, folk, R&B, and traditional Spanish and Mexican music, Los Lobos garnered their first GRAMMY in 1983 for Best Mexican-American Performance for "Anselma," a track off their EP …And A Time To Dance. The following year the band released their major label debut, How Will The Wolf Survive?, followed by By The Light Of The Moon in 1987, which garnered a GRAMMY nomination for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal. That same year "La Bamba" earned Los Lobos two GRAMMY nominations for the prestigious Record Of The Year and Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal. Los Lobos have gone on to win two additional GRAMMYs for Best Mexican-American Performance for "La Pistola Y El Corazon" in 1989 and Best Pop Instrumental Performance for "Mariachi Suite" in 1995. Their most recent release, Tin Can Trust, earned a nod for Best Americana Album at the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards in February.

Do you know how to do the bamba? Got a Forgotten Video recommendation? Leave us a comment.

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