These two musicians will be forever linked because of the fact that they both died too young in a tragic plane crash. Due to this tragic link, La Bamba and The Buddy Holly Story have been packaged together for release on DVD. Both of these performers were at the beginning of very successful careers and the music world lost the potential for much great music when these two men died. Both can be seen as pioneers, Ritchie Valens for being one of the first successful Latino artists whose music crossed over and Buddy Holly for being very innovative in the type of music and sounds he created. Holly and Valens were also similar in that they had to overcome many obstacles in the beginning of their careers to even be able to record their music.
Ritchie Valens (Lou Diamond Phillips – Young Guns, Stand and Deliver) was of Puerto Rican heritage, but was born in the United States. His father died when he was quite young and he was raised by his mother Connie (Rosanna DeSoto – About Last Night, Family Business). The whole family lived and worked on a fruit plantation to make ends meet. He came from humble beginnings. His half-brother Bob Morales (Esai Morales – Bloodhounds of Broadway, Bad Boys) has just been released from prison and returns to the family. He has some money and buys a plot of land with two trailers on it. Ritchie, his mom and two younger sisters live in one and Bob and his girlfriend Rosie (Elizabeth Pena – Rush Hour, Jacob's Ladder). Bob is wild, drinks, stays out all night, and smokes pot. Ritchie is responsible and thinks of nothing but playing his music. Though he does not always attend high school he meets a new girl named Donna Ludwig (Danielle von Zerneck – My Science Project). They start dating, but because Donna is white and Ritchie is Latino her father does not approve of him. Ritchie is noticed by record producer Bob Keene (Joe Pantoliano – Racing Stripes, Bad Boys II) and he records his first single at the age of 16. He is an instant star. The music that Ritchie produces is energetic, unique, fresh and he is a good guitar player to boot. He starts making money and he buys his mother a better house. The tension between Ritchie and Bob increases throughout the film because Bob is jealous of the attention Ritchie gets and his success. While on tour the next winter, the bus breaks down so Ritchie , The Big Bopper (Stephen Lee – The Negotiator, Robocop II), and Buddy Holly (Marshall Crenshaw – Peggy Sue Got Married) charter a plane to fly to the next city on the tour. The plane crashes and the three musicians onboard die. Ritchie Valens was only 17 years old.
La Bamba was a breakthrough movie for both Lou Diamond Phillips and Los Lobos. Lou Diamond Phillips inhabits the character of Ritchie Valens and Los Lobos, who provided the soundtrack, becomes a household name because of their wildly successful hit 'La Bamba'. The performance of Esai Morales as the angry and troubled older brother is also a triumph; it is probably the best performance of his career. Director, Luis Valdez (Zoot Suit), was obviously very passionate about the project in that he even wrote the screenplay. Even though the film takes some liberties with history, it is an interesting look at a life cut too short.
-Taylor Hackford and Daniel Valdez audio commentary
-Director, producer and cast audio commentary
-"La Bamba" music video (Los Lobos)
-"Lonely Teardrops" music video (Howard Huntsberry)
-Remembering Ritchie featurette
-Bios and filmographies
In this biographical film about the life and all too short career of Buddy Holly, Gary Busey gave an Oscar nominated performance in the lead role (He eventually lost to Jon Voigt in 'Coming Home'). Busey actually does his own singing and learned to play guitar for the role. He is what makes the film because it is definitely not as interesting a story as the Ritchie Valens film. The music is definitely the other reason to watch this film; the score adaptation in the film won an Academy Award. It is chock full of full length performances by Busey of Holly's music; I definitely found myself tapping my toes. The director, Steve Rash (Eddie, Son In Law), has done an admirable job with an obviously small budget. It is a must watch for music fans and Busey's performance definitely outweighs the weaknesses in this film.
Buddy Holly's (Gary Busey – Lost Highway, The Firm) short but sweet musical career is portrayed in this film. His rapid rise in the late 1950s from a young man playing country music, against his better judgment, on a radio station in small town Lubbock, Texas to the top of the Billboard charts was a real life fairytale. Holly and his band the Crickets, made up of his two best friends Jesse (Don Stroud – License to Kill, The Amityville Horror) and Bob (Charles Martin Smith – I Love Trouble, The Untouchables), have a unique sound which is a combination of country and rhythm and blues. Their music is credited with changing the course of rock 'n roll history. While in New York recording Buddy meets Maria Elena (Maria Richwine – primarily a television actress), a Puerto Rican, and they get married. In 3 brief years Buddy Holly and the Crickets had catapulted to the top of the charts with songs such as, 'That'll Be The Day', 'It's So Easy' and 'Peggy Sue'. At the young age of 22, Holly seemed to have everything, a great career, a attractive wife and international success, but that was cut short by the tragic plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa that killed him, Ritchie Valens (Gilbert Melgar – his only film) and The Big Bopper (Guilard Sartain – Elizabethtown, Ali). Buddy Holly was dead, but his music continues to live on.
-Director Steve Rash and Gary Busey audio commentary