Award-winning playwright Luis Valdez brought to life the story of Chicano rock and roll singer Ritchie Valens, whose quick rise ended with his tragic death in a plane crash at age 17. Valdez infuses this straightforward biography with insights into Ritchie’s life with his mother Connie (Rosanna DeSoto) and jealous half-brother (Esai Morales in a strong performance), and the pressures he faced as a young Chicano in a world dominated by whites, including his decision to “Americanize” his last name from Valenzuela to Valens. The director gets a winning, energetic performance from his young star as he traces the story to its tragic end, the day the music died, when Valens died in a plane crash Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. The soundtrack, performed by Los Lobos, reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts.