The movie follows Ricardo Valenzuela (Lou Diamond Phillips), a normal teenaged boy who becomes singing super-star Ritchie Valens. It depicts how he met and fell in love with Donna Ludwig, for whom he wrote a song that became a number one hit. The movie also has several subplots, such as his relationship with his mother (Rosanna DeSoto) and half-brother Bob Morales (Esai Morales), and how his brother felt that their mother favors Ritchie.
In one scene, Bob won an important art contest that helps promising cartoonists, only to throw away his prize because, in his mind, his mother doesn't seem to care enough. Bob resorts to drinking heavily and, at one point, leads him to end up crying in front of his mother's door yelling "I want to see my daughter!" in reference to the child he sired with Ritchie's ex-girlfriend, Rosie (Elizabeth Peña).
The film also focuses on Richie's fear of flying, and a recurring dream he has due to a plane crash that killed his friend when he was younger. Eventually, he must conquer his fear when asked to perform his song "Donna" on American Bandstand. His manager Bob Keane (Joe Pantoliano) helps him by giving him a little vodka to calm his nerves during the flight.
However, every time they get a chance, Ritchie and Bob sneak out and have fun by going to carnivals. They also take a road trip to Tijuana.
The movie ends with Valens, Holly, and The Bopper taking off in an airplane under a snow storm for their fateful flight.
As Bob is fixing a car he listens to the news that his brother's plane crashed without any survivors. Bob darts out of his driveway in an attempt to get to his mother before she hears the bad news through the radio. The news hits the whole Valenzuela family very hard. in the final scene we see Bob walking over a bridge and screaming the name of Ritchie, remembering all the good times they had together (in flashback).
Ritchie Valens was only seventeen years old when he passed, eight months after he signed to Del-Fi Records and produced three songs that hit the Billboard 100. As the credits roll we see Lou Diamond Phillips performing Valens' version of "La Bamba."
01.La Bamba - Los Lobos
02.Come On,Let´s Go - Los Lobos
03.Ooh! My Head - Los Lobos
04.We Belong Together - Los Lobos
05.Framed - Los Lobos
06.Donna - Los Lobos
07.Lonely Teardrops - Howard Huntsberry
08.Crying,Waiting,Hoping - Marshall Crenshaw
09.Summertime Blues - Brian Setzer
10.Who Do You Love - Bo Diddley
11.Charlena - Los Lobos
12.Goodnight My Love - Los Lobos
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