La Bamba

In honour of Cinco de Mayo, I’ve chosen this very popular Spanish song from Mexico. Cinco de Mayo is not an indepenence day celebration as some believe, it was the day of an unlikely victory by the Mexican army when they defeated French forces at The Battle of Pueblo in 1862.

"La Bamba", originally a folkloric Mexican wedding dance from the Veracruz area was adapted by the one and only California born singer/songwriter/guitarist Ritchie Valens (Richard Steven Valenzuela) in 1958 at the age of 17. His rock n’roll version hit the top 40 on the U.S charts and has been ranked number 354 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Interesting to note that it is the only song on the list not sung in English. Richie Valens has respectfully become known as the pioneer of the Spanish rock and roll movement.

In 1987, Los Lobos gained international stardom when they recorded a version of the song for the film La Bamba starring the young actor Lou Diamond Phillips. The film chronicled the rise to fame of the young Richie Valens until his untimely death at the age of 17 in an airplane crash with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper.

Though the story of the song's creator is sad, the tune itself has a wonderful joyous feeling that people react to so positively. It’s danceability factor is right up there because of "La Bamba's" unique upbeat Mexican rhythm and style. It can be incorporated into almost any type of fitness class. Whether you choose Richie Valens' version, the hit by Los Lobos or a rendition by any of the many other artists who have covered "La Bamba", it is familiar to people of all ages so you really can’t go wrong putting it into your set list.