First Love, True Love.

  • In 1957 Ritchie and Donna met at a garage party where Ritchie was playing. It was love at first sight. They shared two and a half years of memories and hearts forever.

Ritchie Valens Winter Dance Party


January 1959, The Winter Dance Party Tour, MN.
Donna, School Class Picture


1959, Donna’s senior class photo from James Monroe High School.
Music sheet with photo of Ritchie, “Donna”
Music sheet with photo of Ritchie, “Donna”

Was released nationally in late October 1959. Ritchie had told Donna that he was writing a song for her. She heard the song for the first time on her car radio - she couldn’t believe it. Her girlfriends went crazy when the D.J. played it again.

Donna, NO. 1 In The Nation
Donna, NO. 1 In The Nation
Donna with Bob Kean, Ritchie’s manager
Donna with Bob Kean, Ritchie’s manager
Meet Ritchie’s Donna!
Donna, Donna in Ritchie’s room
In Ritchie’s room
Donna in Ritchie’s room with his guitars

Donna in Ritchie’s room with his guitars. Only his Fender guitar is missing. He had taken it with him on his final tour.

Donna at her home
Donna, interview after Ritchie's Death

This photo is taken after Ritchie’s death during an interview.

Donna, interview after Ritchie's Death

Photo part of the same interview.

Donna in Ritchie’s room
Donna, in Ritchie's room

The Fender guitar had made it home. Also pictured is Ritchie’s Gibson guitar that he and his mom had purchased just a few months earlier.

After Ritchie’s passing
Donna, After Ritchie’s passing
Ritchie's 18th Birthday
First anniversary of Ritchie’s death

On the first anniversary of Ritchie’s death, Ritchie’s mother wanted to honor his memory. Pictured from left to right: Olga Jurado-Zubick, Ritchie’s cousin; Gail Smith, Ritchie’s classmate and president of the Ritchie Valens Memorial Fan Club; Paulina Lozano, sister of Ritchie’s aunt Ernestine; Ritchie’s mother Connie, better known a “Concha”; Donna Ludwig-Fox; and unknown young woman. Photo taken in May, 1959 at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Mission Hills, California.

Winter Dance Party Concert
Winter Dance Party Concert at the Henry J. Mellow Center

The Winter Dance Party Concert at the Henry J. Mellow Center, Watsonville, CA. Photo taken backstage with Donna and the family of Ritchie Valens. Pictured from left to right: Bob Morales, Irma Norton, “Donna” Fox, Mario Ramirez and Connie Valens.

Donna shares her memories of Ritchie

Ritchie was my first true love and my first experience losing someone I loved. Ritchie was a truly good guy; kind and polite. He liked to dress well and always look good. I still remember his aftershave, “Old Spice.” Ritchie spoke often about his family. He wanted to buy his mom a home. Ritchie’s mom and I grew close. She made me feel like family and she taught me how to cook Ritchie’s favorite foods: tamales, menudo and enchiladas. Ritchie’s family has influenced me and my family by showing me that with the love and support of family nothing is too difficult. They are a blessing to me and my family.

Donna was a great comfort to Ritchie’s mom and sisters after Ritchie’s death. Donna has attended the Winter Dance Party Concert for the last several years as a special guest. Her graciousness to Ritchie’s fans and support of Ritchie’s family continues to show the bond that was created almost sixty years ago.

The Ritchie Valens family would like to acknowledge Alan Clark (The Alan Clark Archives), Donna Fox, Judy Willis and Michelle Hoover (Photographer) for their contribution to this page.