The Death of
Ritchie Valens: His manager, Bob Keane Remembers
The day the music died. That's how Don McLean saw it in his song "American Pie". On February 3rd, 1959. Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson), and Ritchie Valens were killed in a plane crash. The world of rock and roll has never been the same since that day. Last year, (1987) Columbia Pictures released the highly successful film, "La Bamba", the Ritchie Valens Story. With the renewed interest in Ritchie Valens, we decided to interview the man who discovered Ritchie Valens, who managed him and produced him - Mr. Bob Keane.
- What is the likelihood of a 17 year old today achieving the kind of success Ritchie Valens had?
- Well, I don't know. It's so completely different today, because of recording techniques. Rock music is more or less solidified. It's a definite art form. All they really need is the voice. Today I would say a 17 year old would have a much bigger chance. I don't think it would really be comparable, because he was a Latin, and there were no Latins in those days. No Latins were singing rock music, or pop, or whatever you want to call it. It would be a hard question to answer. As far as becoming a big success today, it can be done at 17 as well as 18 or 19.
- What is your background? How did you start Del-Fi Records?
- I was a band leader before that. I had this guy that followed me around. He wanted to start a record company. So he started Keene Records, which was the first record company I had. I had Sam Cooke on the label. He was my first artist. "You Send Me", which was his big hit. Then we got into contractual problems with this guy and that's when I started Del-Fi. So my background had been strictly musical all the way, which is sometimes good, and sometimes not. In this case, I guess it was OK.
© Gary James