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Valen’s last Hit before his death in Feb. 1959

Valens’ Donna was positioned at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart when Valens died. Three weeks after Valens’ death, the song peaked at #2.

I hate to date myself – but I REMEMBER hearing about the plane crash on the radio – sitting in my kitchen when I was 10 years old! It was more noted that the BIG BOPPER and Buddy Holly  – also died in the crash! That event has become known as “The Day the Music Died” because it is so called in Don McLean’s 1971 song “American Pie”.

Link – Donna

Reading Exercise: I am calling this a Level 3 – it has triples, is counted using SWING TIME – and has a few “scale runs” that all use the same fingering!!!!

The song is originally written in 12/8 – and I wrote in 4/4 using triples to make it easier. SOOO – when you see a Dotted 8th followed by a 16 note – you will play it like a triplet – with the first 2 notes of the triplet tied together – like in the example!

Swing Counting

Measure 5 – count 3 – is the best example!                                                          When you are counting – just SAY “TRI – PO – Let” for each of the 3 counts of the triplet! AND if you are having further problems – start by NOT playing the ties – lift each note – so you are sure you are hitting the correct count!

So the first two measures would count this way (without the ties):

One    tri po let   tripo  let    four (then tie the last “let” to the “four”)

tripo  let     tri  po  let     Three(four) (then tie the first “let” to the next “tri”) – UNDERLINED!

Donna Sample Image

About the Song:

Donna” is a song sung by Ritchie Valens, featuring the 50s progression I IV V7 I. The song was released in 1958 on Del-Fi Records. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart the following year, becoming Valens’ highest-charting single. It was written as a tribute to his high school sweetheart Donna Ludwig.

The song was notably covered by Los Lobos for the soundtrack to the 1987 film La Bamba which portrayed the life story of Ritchie Valens. Donna”, the second Ritchie Valens single released, was the A side of the influential and more famous song “La Bamba”.

Richard Steven Valenzuela (May 13, 1941 – February 3, 1959), was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

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