Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: Los Lobos, “La Bamba”
32 years ago today, Los Lobos secured the first and – at least as of this writing – only #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, thanks to the soundtrack of a bio-pic about one of the ‘50s rockers whose career ended abruptly on “The Day the Music Died.”
As you likely already know, “La Bamba” was a traditional Mexican song which was famously adapted by Ritchie Valens in 1958 to become an early rock and roll hit, one which not only became a big hit but also served to make Valens so famous that the story of his all-too-brief life and career was turned into a major motion picture which shared its title with that of his signature hit. When the time came to select a band to record Valens’s songs for the soundtrack, Los Lobos came out the winners...and then some.
The insidiously catchy hook of “La Bamba” took Los Lobos, who’d really only experienced minor chart success up to that point, soaring to the top of the charts. The soundtrack to La Bamba was successful, in fact, that the band also ended up with a second top-40 hit: “Come On, Let’s Go.”
In the end, Los Lobos’ success from La Bamba did not translate into a great deal of additional success on the singles chart beyond the soundtrack. In fact, they haven’t had another Hot 100 hit since then. But they’ve continued to release some amazing music, so after you’ve revisited “La Bamba” – because you’re not fooling anyone, you know you want to – you should dig into some of their other work, too.
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