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Ritchie Valens: The First Latino Rocker Paperback – January 1, 1987

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Bilingual Review Press (January 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0916950794
  • ISBN-13: 978-0916950798
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
This was a great biography. I foolsihly thought that the movie was accurate, but this book proves me wrong. It would have been good for the movie to be just like this book, but of course the show business just wants to make it look good to make a profit! As well, maybe the movie makers had to change some things around or they would get sued. If I were going to make a movie about him, I would base it on this book. The movie was a good movie, but not truly about the real Ritchie Valens...same as the Buddy Holly Story.
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Format: Paperback
I had been a fan of Ritchie's since 1988. When I learned of this book through Ritchie's offical fan club; I couldn't have been more pleased. I had done a research paper in my senior year of high school, on Ritchie, and I realized how little was written about him. The first Latino Rocker is the only book out there about Ritchie, and I thought it was wonderful. The other shared someone personal traits about Ritchie that allowed me to know him at least a little bit. It was actually better than the movie La Bamba. I highly recomend this book for a new Ritchie fan. I love the pictures of him in the book. My heart goes out to his family and friends since tomorrow will be February 3rd.
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In all fairness to the author, it must have been a challenge to pen a book about a 17 year old whose notoriety came in the last year or so of his life. No disrespect to Valens, but there isn't a voluminous amount of information to write about.

With that said, the content about Valens' family was insightful and helped explain the significance of Valens' crossing over to the mainstream. I also appreciated the info about the band, "The Silhouettes," and how it nurtured Valens' musical growth (I don't remember Bob Keane's autobiography even mentioning "The Silhouettes!"). An informative discography was included, as were many well selected pictures.

However, in an effort to add pages, the book seemed to be "padded" with any information that was remotely related to - and not necessarily about - Valens. For example, there are THREE chapters of stories behind the songs, and only one, maybe two, that concentrate on his upbringing and musical development. There's also an entire chapter about tribute songs and other acknowledgments by other artists. The author even counts her introduction as the first chapter of the book!

I'm not discounting any of the information. I appreciate what is presented. My observations are more about the presentation and organization of the book. Perhaps a more precise title would inform the reader as to the direction and content of the book. In some ways, "The First Latino Rocker" reads like a university dissertation.
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Format: Paperback
Ms. Mendheim does much much more than give us an accurate account of the famed Lation rock-n-roll star's life. She successfully immerses us completely in Ritchie Valens' music, leaving us with a comprehensive wealth of knowledge that was long overdue for the public! Ms. Mendheim's thorough research is to be congratulated time after time! You WON'T be disappointed!
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Format: Paperback
As a Valens fan always searching for new information, I found this book to be an exciting read. I thought that Mendheim did a wonderful job researching for this book. However, to those of you thinking about buying this book, there are a few things you should know. First, this book is focused on the music of Ritchie Valens rather than his social life. Mendheim analyzes each of Ritchie's songs and uses her own musical background to describe Ritchie's work. In addition, she spends a great deal of time discussing the origins of these songs. Secondly, Mendheim does a fine job discussing Ritchie's role and interactions with the Silhouettes. Third, Mendheim describes a number of conflicting views about historical events but allows the reader to decide. Fourth and finally, not much attention is paid to the Winter Dance Party tour nor the daily interactions between Ritchie and his manager. Overall, this book is a must read and provides a lot of information not found on the web or any other book.
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I've noted several critical reviews that claimed there was too much minutiae regarding Valens music, his style, and his musicianship. BUNK !!! If you are reading this book as a true musician, you will appreciate the musical details of this book. Mendheim approaches this book as a musician herself, and I thing she's "hit it out of the park". Would that the '87 "La Bamba" movie had been truer to the story she lays out here. I would have liked more information regarding the relationship between Valens and Donna Ludwig, but this book is about HIM and his story. it does tell of the airplane collision over his school in January, 1957, and how it affected his desire to travel by air when he became a success., But little or no analysis is offered regarding just WHY Valens decided to try to fly on a small plane from Clear Lake, Iowa.
I recommend this book highly, especially for musicians, and those interested in his life and story.
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