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Ritchie Valens was born on 13 May, 1941 in Pacoima, a suburb of Los Angeles, California. His real name was Richard Valenzuela. At nine years of age he got his first (Spanish) guitar. As a twelve year old Ritchie had already written several songs, most of which were inspired by Mexican music. He also displayed considerable singing talent, and became a feature at school assemblies singing and playing the guitar.