Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) introduced a bill this week to name a portion of Interstate 5 after San Fernando Valley native son and rock ’n roll legend Ritchie Valens.
Bocanegra’s ACR 23 calls for the portion of Interstate 5 between the Hollywood (170) and Ronald Reagan (118) freeways to be renamed “The Ritchie Valens Memorial Highway” in honor of the late rocker, who is most famous for his hit “La Bamba.”
“Ritchie Valens is part of the cultural fabric of the 39th District and the northeast San Fernando Valley,” Bocanegra said in a statement. “His music has inspired a generation of Chicano artists in our community and throughout the world. It’s only fitting to name a highway after a rock ’n roll Hall of Famer who grew up right here in Pacoima.”
Valens attended Pacoima High School before becoming a hit recording artist after being discovered in 1958 at the American Legion Hall in that city.
He appeared on the then-popular TV show “American Bandstand” and recorded such hits as “Come On, Let’s Go” and “Donna;” his records sold more than a million copies.
Valens died at the age of 17 on Feb. 3, 1959, in a plane crash that also took the lives of Buddy Holly and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.
Valens was also the subject of the 1987 feature film “La Bamba.”
“The Ritchie Valens family would like to express their gratitude for the legislation to be submitted by Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra on behalf of our brother Ritchie Valens in the renaming of a section of the I-5 freeway,” Valens’ sister, Connie Valens, said in a statement. “Ritchie became a rock ’n roll icon at the age of 17; he’s not only a rock ’n roll pioneer but a role model for artists and youth all over the world.”
Bocanegra is the Democratic majority whip in the California State Assembly.