On this day in music history: August 29, 1987 – “La Bamba” by Los Lobos hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by Ritchie Valens, it is the biggest hit for the East Los Angeles, CA based band. Recorded as the theme song to the biopic of Mexican American rock & roll icon Ritchie Valens, the traditional Mexican folk song is based on the Son Jarocho style of music native to the state of Veracruz, and is often played at weddings. Valens rock & roll version (#22 Pop) is recorded in 1958 and is issued as the B-side of his biggest single “Donna” (#2 Pop). When Los Lobos records their version for the film (who also make a cameo appearance), they use Valens’ arrangement of the song, adding a reprise at the end of the traditional folk arrangement. Released six weeks ahead of the film in early June of 1987, the single is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #84 on June 27, 1987, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. The accompanying soundtrack album also hits number one on the Billboard Top 200 for 2 weeks (on September 12, 1987), and to date has been certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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