Lifestyle

‘La Bamba’ Made Its Debut 30 Years Ago This Week, Launching the Career of Lou Diamond Phillips

By  | 

Making its theater debut 30 years ago this week, the movie “La Bamba” told the story of the spectacular rise to fame and heartbreakingly tragic death of pop star Ritchie Valens. Best known for his popular song “La Bamba,” from which the movie took its name, Valens hailed from Los Angeles, and prior to his death on February 3, 1959, had one other hit song entitled “Donna.”

‘La Bamba’ Made its Debut 30 Years Ago This Week, Launching the Career of Lou Diamond Phillips

Photo: Facebook/Rockabilly Nation

Valens died in a catastrophic plane crash in Iowa together with Texas singers and musicians The Big Bopper and Buddy Holly. Commonly referred to as the Day the Music Died due to the significance it had on pop culture and the American music scene in the 1950s, the incident spawned the hit song “American Pie” by Don McLean in 1971, and wasn’t actually referred to by that epic name until the popularity of his music brought it about. Waylon Jennings, of country music fame, chose to take the bus for the same tour, thereby missing the accident and sparing his life.

‘La Bamba’ Made its Debut 30 Years Ago This Week, Launching the Career of Lou Diamond Phillips

Photo: Facebook/Esai Morales

Setting the stage for future modern music biopics to follow in its footsteps, “La Bamba” was a trailblazer in more ways than one. A rare thing even for 1987 in the film industry, this movie was considered the first to feature a largely Latino cast, paving the way for future casting in such movies as Selena, a decade later. It was also a breakout role for a young Texas actor by the name of Lou Diamond Phillips, who went on to have starring roles in movie hits over the next three decades, including the “Young Guns” western series.

References:

My San Antonio