Black Tiger (II)
5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
228 lbs (103 kg)
October 9, 1967
November 13, 2005 (aged 38)
Eduardo Gory Guerrero Yañez (October 9, 1967 – November 13, 2005), better known by his ring name Eddie Guerrero, was a Mexican-American professional wrestler. Born into a legendary Mexican wrestling family, Eddie Guerrero managed to maintain the storied legacy of his family. Through the 1990s, he had a distinguished career, working for every major promotion in the United States during that period: Extreme Championship Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment.
Guerrero's in-ring character was that of a crafty, resourceful wrestler who would do anything to win a match. His famous mantra became "Cheat to Win". Despite being a heel for much of his career, he became popular in and outside the ring.
Throughout his career, Guerrero encountered various substance abuse problems outside of wrestling, including alcoholism and an addiction to pain killers. His problems outside of the ring were sometimes integrated into his storylines. Notwithstanding these issues, Guerrero won numerous titles during his career, including the WWE Championship.
Professional wrestling career
Early Years (1987-1992)
Fro 1987 until Guerrero wrestled in Empresa Mexicana de la Lucha Libre (EMLL) (now Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL), World Wrestling Association (WWA) in Mexico and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in the United States.
Asistencia Asesoria y Administracion (1992-1994)
In Mexico, he wrestled mainly for Asistencia Asesoría y Administración, teaming with "El Hijo del Santo" as the new version of La Pareja Atómica (The Atomic Pair), the tag team of Gory Guerrero and El Santo.
After Gueerrero turned on Santo and allied with Art Barr as La Pareja del Terror (The Pair of Terror), the duo became arguably the most hated tag team in lucha libre history. Along with Barr, Konnan, Chicano Power, and Madonna's Boyfriend (Louie Spicolli), Guerrero formed Los Gringos Locos (The Crazy Americans), a villainous stable. Guerrero later said that no matter how many people joined Los Gringos Locos, the stable was all about Art. Locos feuded mostly with El Hijo del Santo and his partner Octagón, eventually ending in a Hair vs Mask Match at the first lucha pay-per-view in America, When World's Collide, which they lost.
Guerrero and Barr's first break would come when they were noticed in late 1994 by the owner of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), Paul Heyman, and were approached about wrestling for him in 1995. Barr, however, died before he could join ECW with Guerrero.
New Japan Pro Wrestling (1993-1996)
In 1993, Guerrero began wrestling in Japan for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), where he was known as the second incarnation of Black Tiger. He won the NJPW Junior Heavyweight Super Grade Tag League Championship with Great Sasuke in 1993, which made him the most successful Black Tiger. He became more successful upon his return when he won the Best of the Super Juniors 1996 tournament of junior heavweights. He received a shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion The Great Sasuke at NJPW Skydiving J but lost the match.
Extreme Championship Wrestling (1995)
Guerrero won the ECW World Television Championship from 2 Cold Scorpio on his debut in ECW, and went on to have a series of acclaimed matches with Dean Malenko before they both signed with World Championship Wrestling later that year. Guerrero lost the ECW Television Championship to Malenko on July 21 of that year, but Guerrero regained the title on July 28. Guerrero lost the ECW Television Championship back to 2 Cold Scorpio on August 25. The next day, they had their last match which ended in a draw in a two out of three falls match at the ECW arena. After the match, the locker room emptied and the two were carried around the ringby their fellow wrestlers while the crowd chanted "please don't go".
World Championship Wrestling (1995-2000)
Guerrero to WCW in late 1995 along with Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit with whom he had worked with in NJPW and ECW. During his first few pay-per-view events, he competed in dark matches against Alex Wright. His first televised pay-per-view appearance was at World War 3 where he competed in the 3-ring, 60-man World War 3 battle royal for the vacant WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Guerrero was one of the final nine wrestlers in the battle royal until he was tossed out of the ring by Four Horsemen members. At "Starrcade 1995, Guerrero represented WCW in a WCW vs. NJPW World Cup tournament2661 series. He lost to Shinjiro Otani in the match, but WCW went on to win the series.
United States Champion (1996-1997)
In 1996, Guerrero reveived several shots at the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship against Konnan at Uncensored and Ric Flair at Hog Wild. He feuded with Ric Flair and the "Four Horsemen" during 1996 after Guerrero's partner Arn Anderson turned on him during a tag team match against Ric Flair and Randy Savage. In late 1996, he feuded with Diamond Dallas Page after defeating him in a match at Clash of the Champions XXXIII. He started feuding with Diamond Dallas Page to steal his nickname of "Lord of the Ring" but lost. Guerrero participated in a tournament for the vacant WCW United States Heavyweight Championship and defeated DDP in the final round at Starrcade 1996 to win the United States title.
In 1997, Guerrero defended the United StatesHeavyweight Championship against Scott Norton at Clash of the Champions XXXIV, Syxx in a Ladder Match at Souled Out, and Chris Jericho at SuperBrawl VII. His reign came to an end at Uncensored when Dean Malenko defeated him for the title.
Cruiserweight Division (1997-1998)
World Wrestling Federation (2000–2001)
The Radicalz (2000)
Main article: The Radicalz
Guerrero and along with Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn debuted in the WWF on the January 31, 2000 episode of Raw is War as The Radicalz, interfering in a match involving the New Age Outlaws. During his first match with the WWF, a tag team match with the Radicalz against the Outlaws, Guerrero performed a Frog Splash off the top rope and severely injured his elbow on the landing. As a result, he was sidelined for several weeks.
Latino Heat and Intercontinental Champion (2000)
In March 2000, Guerrero, who was wrestling as a villain, began pursuing the affections of Chyna, who he referred to as his "Mamacita". At the time Chyna was allies with Chris Jericho and initially rejected his advances. The night after WrestleMania 2000, on the April 3, 2000 edition of Raw Is War, Guerrero faced off against Jericho for the European Championship that Jericho had defeated Kurt Angle for the previous night. During the match Chyna turned on Jericho and helped Guerrero win, and later explained her actions by declaring that she could not resist his "Latino Heat." After Chyna abandoned Lita to be attacked by the Dudley Boyz, he and Chyna began a feud with Essa Rios and Lita, ending in a European title defense at Backlash, which was also billed as the night of Guerrero's prom (he was said to have just earned a GED). Guerrero defeated Rios after arriving at ringside in a 1957 Chevrolet, even wrestling in his tuxedo pants and a bow tie. Guerrero successfully retained the title against former Radicalz friends Saturn and Malenko in a Triple Threat match at Judgment Day, before finally losing the title to Saturn at Fully Loaded. The two slowly began to become popular with the fans but over the next few months, friction began to build between Guerrero and Chyna.
Chyna was upset when Guerrero pinned her to advance in the King of the Ring tournament. Then at SummerSlam that August, Guerrero and Chyna wrestled a mixed tag team match against Trish Stratus and Val Venis, who at the time was the reigning Intercontinental Champion. The Intercontinental Championship was on the line in the match, and whoever scored the pin would win the title. Guerrero's team won the match, but Chyna scored the pin on Trish and became a two-time Intercontinental Champion. Although Guerrero said he didn't mind that his partner was the champion, on the September 4 Raw is War he went to WWF Commissioner Mick Foley and asked to be inserted into Chyna's title defense against Kurt Angle claiming that he did not want Angle to hurt his "mamacita". During the course of the match Angle knocked down Chyna with the title belt and Guerrero laid on top of her to try to revive her. However, this resulted in Guerrero "accidentally" pinning Chyna as her shoulders were still on the mat, and thus Guerrero won the match and his first Intercontinental Championship. Chyna became visibly uncomfortable as Guerrero began to cheat in order to retain his title, while Guerrero was upset that Chyna was posing for Playboy magazine, even trying to invade the Playboy Mansion to stop the photo shoot. Just when it appeared that Chyna would leave Guerrero, he proposed to her and she accepted. At Unforgiven, Chyna helped Guerrero in retaining his title against Rikishi. The engagement was called off when Guerrero was caught showering with two of The Godfather's hos (one was Victoria) claiming that "Two Mamacitas are better than one!"
The Radicalz reunion and departure (2000–2001)
Guerrero turned into a villain as a result of the incident. Then, the Radicalz reunited and feuded with the reformed D-Generation X (Chyna, Billy Gunn, Road Dog, and K-Kwik). They defeated DX at Survivor Series in an elimination tag team match and assisted Triple H in his match with Stone Cold Steve Austin. Guerrero was later defeated by Gunn for the Intercontinental Championship, with help from Chyna. At Rebellion, Guerrero and Malenko lost to Gunn and Chyna. Benoit left the group to focus on a singles career while the rest of the Radicalz feuded with Lita and the Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff). At Armageddon, the Radicalz defeated the Hardyz and Lita in an elimination tag team match.
In early 2001, Guerrero feuded with Chris Jericho, Benoit, and X-Pac over Jericho's Intercontinental Championship. At No Way Out, the four men faced each other in a Fatal Four-Way match, which Jericho won. Guerrero focused on the European Championship, feuding with the champion Test defeating him at WrestleMania X-Seven to win his second European Championship with help from Saturn and Malenko. In April, Radicalz feuded with Test and his partners. Guerrero eventually left the Radicalz, siding with the Hardy Boyz and Lita. At this point, Guerrero developed an addiction to pain medication stemming from his 1999 car accident and in May 2001 was sent to rehab. To explain his absence, a storyline was created where Guerrero was "injured" by Albert in a match. On November 9, 2001, he was arrested for drunk driving and was subsequently released by the WWF three days later.
Independent circuit (2001–2002)
Guerrero started wrestling on the independent circuit after his release from WWF. On February 23, he faced Super Crazy on the debut show of Ring of Honor known as The Era of Honor Begins to crown the first-ever IWA Intercontinental Champion. Guerrero lost the match. On February 24, he debuted in the Australian promotion World Wrestling All-Stars (WWA) at The Revolution beating the champion Juventud Guerrera and Psicosis in a Triple Threat match for the WWA International Cruiserweight Championship. On March 1, he defeated the champion CM Punk and Rey Mysterio in a Triple Threat match for the IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Championship. He dropped the title back to Punk one day later on March 2. He vacated the WWA Cruiserweight title in April 2002 after returning to WWF.
Return to the WWF/E (2002–2005)
Guerrero returned to the WWF on the April 1, 2002 episode of Raw, attacking Rob Van Dam. He feuded with Van Dam defeating him for his second WWF Intercontinental Championship at Backlash. After retaining the title against Van Dam at Insurrextion and Judgment Day, he finally lost the belt to Van Dam on the May 27 episode of Raw in a ladder match Guerrero then feuded with Steve Austin, but Austin left the WWE before a match could take place. Chris Benoit returned to WWE the night Guerrero lost the title and reunited with him. Guerrero and Benoit feuded with Ric Flair for a while and Guerrero even lost a match to Flair at King of the Ring. On an episode of Raw, Eddie Guerrero came out interrupting The Rock the night after he had won the undisputed title. Guerrero then challenged him to a match after cutting a long promo for the main event that night. Guerrero lost a match to The Rock, challenging him for a #1 contendership for the Undisputed Championship.
SmackDown! and Los Guerreros (2002–2003)
Main article: Los Guerreros
On August 1, 2002, Guerrero and Benoit began to wrestle exclusively for WWE's SmackDown! brand. Guerrero feuded with Edge, to whom he lost at SummerSlam. Guerrero continued his feud with Edge, whom he defeated at Unforgiven; they then had a No Disqualification match two weeks after Unforgiven on SmackDown which Edge won thus ending the rivalry. With Benoit focusing on Kurt Angle, Guerrero aligned himself with his nephew Chavo, forming the tag team Los Guerreros. In contrast to a previous WCW storyline with his nephew, Chavo fully agreed with his uncle as their slogan stated "We lie, we cheat, and we steal, but at least we're honest about it." In order to push the new tag team, vignettes were produced, which included things such as the two finagling their way into a rich lady's house and throwing a pool party.
The duo entered the eight-team tournament for the new WWE Tag Team Championship, sneaking past Rikishi and Mark Henry in the opening round, before starting a feud with the newly formed tag team of Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit. In one of the team's definitive moments, Chavo told Benoit that his former friend Guerrero was assaulted by his tag team partner Angle. Benoit ran to make the save, only to have himself locked inside a room. Guerrero then appeared in the room and assaulted Benoit with a steel chair. Benoit and Angle managed to overcome their differences and eventually defeated Los Guerreros in the tournament semi-finals. Later on, Benoit and Angle won the title. Benoit and Angle then fought for a trophy for being the first WWE Tag Team Champion. Much to Benoit's surprise, Los Guerreros helped him win the match.
At Survivor Series, Los Guerreros faced the new champions Edge and Rey Mysterio and the team of Angle and Benoit for the title. Guerrero made Mysterio submit to The Lasso From El Paso to win their first WWE Tag Team Championship. They were defeated by Team Angle (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin) on the February 6, 2003 episode of SmackDown!. Los Guerreros and Team Angle began feuding with each other. Los Guerreros participated at WrestleMania XIX as contenders for the Tag Team Title, along with the team of Benoit and Rhyno. Both teams lost to Haas and Benjamin in a Triple Threat match. At Backlash, Los Guerreros lost to Team Angle in a rematch.
Teaming with Tajiri and United States Champion (2003–2004)
Five days prior to Judgment Day, Chavo tore his biceps, forcing Guerrero to look for another partner. He chose Tajiri. They won the WWE Tag Team Championship, Guerrero's second and Tajiri's first at Judgment Day by defeating Team Angle in a ladder match. The following week, Guerrero and Tajiri managed to retain their title by cheating. In addition, they also defeated Roddy Piper and his protégé Sean O'Haire in Madison Square Garden. After Guerrero and Tajiri lost the titles to Team Angle on the July 3 episode of SmackDown!, Guerrero turned on Tajiri, slamming his partner through the windshield of his low-rider truck. The next Smackdown! Guerrero said he did it because during the match Tajiri had accidentally hit his low-rider. Despite being portrayed as the heel, when Guerrero asked the audience if they blamed him for doing it, the audience responded by yelling "No!"
In July 2003, Guerrero competed in a tournament for the United States Championship. He managed to advance to the final round, defeating Último Dragón and Billy Gunn in the process, where he would meet Chris Benoit. At Vengeance, Guerrero turned to his cheating tactics, hitting Benoit with the belt at one point in the match. Guerrero tried to get Benoit in trouble by placing the title belt on top of the unconscious Benoit. It did not work, however, since he knocked out the referee earlier with a belt shot to the kidneys. The match ended with interference and a Gore from Rhyno, Benoit's own partner, who was furious at the team's failure. Guerrero himself said that this was a major point in the character of Latino Heat, since he himself realized that the fans wanted to see him lie, cheat, and steal. Guerrero pinned Benoit and won the WWE United States Championship.
At SummerSlam, Guerrero retained his title by defeating Rhyno, Benoit, and Tajiri in a Fatal Four-Way match. He turned face again by engaging in a rivalry with John Cena. On the September 11 episode of SmackDown!, Guerrero challenged Cena to a "Latino Heat" Parking Lot Brawl match for the United States Championship, which Guerrero won with help from his returning nephew, Chavo. The next week, Los Guerreros defeated The World's Greatest Tag Team (previously Team Angle) to win the WWE Tag Team Championship, making Guerrero a double champion.
Guerrero engaged in a feud with The Big Show, which involved Guerrero giving the Big Show some laxative laced burritos and then later spraying the Big Show from a sewage truck. The feud ended when Guerrero dropped the United States title to Big Show at No Mercy. Four days later, Los Guerreros lost the Tag Team Championship to The Basham Brothers (Doug and Danny). They began feuding with The Basham Brothers, but failed to regain the titles at Survivor Series. As Los Guerreros attempted to regain the tag team title, things began to go downhill between Chavo and Guerrero and animosity began to build. Chavo then attacked and turned on Guerrero after he suffered a beating from The Bashams. Guerrero feuded with Chavo and defeated him at the Royal Rumble to settle their feud.
WWE Champion (2004-2005)
When Chris Benoit jumped to Raw after winning the Royal Rumble, using his title shot to go for Triple H's World Heavyweight Championship, Guerrero won a 15-man Royal Rumble style match on the January 29, 2004 episode of SmackDown! to earn a shot at the WWE Championship. After becoming the number one contender, Guerrero elevated himself to main event status and began feuding with the WWE Champion Brock Lesnar. At No Way Out, Guerrero defeated Lesnar in the main event to win the WWE Championship. His next feud was with Kurt Angle, whom he defeated at WrestleMania XX to retain his title in his first big defense. At the end of this event, Guerrero celebrated in the ring with longtime friend Chris Benoit, who had just won the World Heavyweight Championship.
In March, he started a feud with fellow Texan John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL) after JBL interrupted Guerrero's match with Booker T. The rivalry would soon turn personal when at a non-televised live event, JBL caused Guerrero's mother to suffer a (kayfabe) heart attack. At Judgment Day, Guerrero defended his WWE title against JBL and retained the title after getting himself disqualified, hitting JBL with the championship belt. The match witnessed Guerrero bleed heavily mid-way in the match, and later cause him to go into shock after the event had ended. At The Great American Bash, Guerrero defended the title against JBL in a Texas Bullrope match. JBL won after Angle (who was General Manager of SmackDown! at the time) reversed the decision after Guerrero appeared to have retained the title. On the July 8 episode of SmackDown!, Guerrero pulled a switcharoo with Shannon Moore, who was wrestling as "El Gran Luchadore" and wore the costume. The next week on SmackDown!, Guerrero faced JBL in a steel cage match for the WWE title where El Gran Luchadore appeared again and cost Guerrero the match; he later revealed himself as Kurt Angle. Guerrero continued his feud with Angle again.
At SummerSlam, Guerrero lost to Angle after submitting to his ankle lock. Guerrero then allied himself with the Big Show. Each week Angle and his new allies Luther Reigns and Mark Jindrak began targeting Guerrero and Big Show. Guerrero defeated Reigns in a singles match at No Mercy. General Manager Theodore Long booked a Survivor Series Elimination match between a team led by Guerrero and a team led by Angle. Guerrero's team consisted of himself, Big Show, John Cena (replacing the originally chosen Rey Mysterio), and Rob Van Dam. At Survivor Series, Guerrero's team defeated Angle's team. Guerrero, along with Booker T and The Undertaker, then challenged JBL for a WWE Championship rematch. Along the way, Guerrero found a partner in Booker T. At Armageddon, Guerrero and Booker's initial teamwork broke away, and the match ended with JBL pinning Booker following the Clothesline From Hell. Afterwards, Guerrero and Booker briefly and unsuccessfully attempted to win the Tag Team Championship.
Storyline with Rey Mysterio (2005)
At the Royal Rumble, Guerrero entered at #1 and lasted 28:11 before being eliminated. In a humorous skit before the Rumble, he drew his number the same time Ric Flair drew his. In an attempt to get a better draw, Guerrero switched his number with Flair's (and stole Flair's wallet in the process). Theodore Long made him return both items before the match. Flair would enter at #30. At No Way Out, Guerrero teamed up with longtime friend and sometimes rival, Rey Mysterio and defeated The Basham Brothers to win his final title, the WWE Tag Team Championship for a fourth time, with it being Mysterio's third reign. Many expected the new champions to defend their title at WrestleMania 21, but after encouragement from Chavo, Guerrero challenged Mysterio to a one-on-one match instead so they could "bring the house down". The two wrestled a match at WrestleMania with Mysterio getting the win. Although visibly frustrated, Guerrero congratulated his partner. After several mishaps in the weeks following WrestleMania, the growing tension between Guerrero and Mysterio finally erupted when they lost their tag team championship to the new team MNM (Johnny Nitro and Joey Mercury) on the April 21 episode of SmackDown!. Although the next week they received a rematch to regain the title, Guerrero turned heel once again by abandoning his partner, whom he had considered "his family" earlier in the show.
At the end of one episode of SmackDown!, he attacked his former tag team partner, Mysterio, leaving him bruised and bloody after suplexing him onto a set of steel steps. Guerrero, having turned heel, then adopted a new, somewhat sociopathic gimmick. During this time, he also stopped driving his low-riders down the ring and walked to the ring with a frown on his face, and reverted to using the Lasso from El Paso as his finishing move. At Judgment Day, Guerrero lost to Mysterio by disqualification after hitting Mysterio with a chair.
On the June 30 episode of SmackDown!, Guerrero threatened to reveal a secret about Mysterio and his son Dominick. The storyline grew to involve the families of both men, with both sides pleading for Guerrero not to reveal the secret. Mysterio defeated Guerrero again at The Great American Bash, a match with a stipulation that if Guerrero lost, he would not tell the secret. Yet Guerrero revealed the secret anyway on the following episode of SmackDown! – telling Dominick and the audience that Guerrero was his real father. In the following weeks, Guerrero revealed the details of the secret in a series of what he called "Eddie's Bedtime Stories". During that time he now had a dark comical gimmick. He claimed that he had a child out of wedlock (Dominick) while his marriage was going through hard times. He claimed he then allowed Mysterio and his wife, who were "having trouble conceiving", to adopt the child as their own. At SummerSlam, Guerrero lost a ladder match over Dominick's custody to Mysterio. Their feud ended when Guerrero gained a victory over Mysterio in a steel cage match.
Storyline with Batista (2005)
Following his feud with Rey Mysterio, Guerrero was named number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship and given a title match with Batista. Despite this, Guerrero quickly proclaimed himself to be Batista's friend. Batista was well aware of Guerrero's sneaky reputation, and despite eventually accepting his friendship (initially to keep an eye on him), Batista would continually play mind games with Guerrero to expose his true intentions. A series of matches with MNM only supported Batista's suspicions that Guerrero was up to no good, as Guerrero appeared to have reverted to his cheating ways. In response to Batista's suspicions, Guerrero helped Batista win a match against his tag team partners, John "Bradshaw" Layfield and Christian. Batista defeated Guerrero at No Mercy to retain the World Heavyweight Championship in what would be Guerrero's last pay-per-view match. During the match, Guerrero struggled with a decision about whether or not to use a steel chair to secure the victory, eventually opting not to use it and losing as a result. Though the two demonstrated mutual respect after the match, Guerrero seemed displeased by the loss. Guerrero told Batista that he realized how low he had sunk since losing the WWE Championship in 2004, having attacked his best friend Rey Mysterio. Guerrero told Batista that shaking his hand at No Mercy had returned his respect to him. After the match, Batista called Guerrero back out and sang "Happy Birthday" and, along with the crowd, celebrated Guerrero's 38th birthday. He would make his entrance, once again using his signature low rider, turning face once again. He wrestled his last match, airing November 11, defeating Mr. Kennedy using his signature lie, cheat, and steal tactics, which allowed him to advance to the Survivor Series team. On the date of his death, a triple threat match between himself, Batista, and Randy Orton was supposed to take place to air on the next episode of Smackdown for the World Heavyweight Championship. Some reports say Guerrero had been scripted to win the title so Batista could take time off to heal from an injured back.
On November 13, 2005, Eddie was found unconscious in his hotel room by his nephew, Chavo. Chavo attempted CPR before alerting Paramedics, but Eddie was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy revealed that Eddie had died from heart failure brought on by a blocked artery. A ceremony in honor of Eddie was held on an edition of Friday Night Smackdown!. Eddie was inducted by his nephew into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006. On the 10 year special edition of Smackdown!, Eddie was honored, as the anniversary was on Eddie's birthday.
Who was Ritchie Valens?
The second-most famous of the "Three Stars" who perished "The Day the Music Died" was Latino America's first rock star, a verifiable teen idol who reconfigured Latin culture into rock and roll and produced one deathless double-sided classic single, "La Bamba" backed with the ballad "Donna." The crash which took Buddy Holly's life in 1959 tragically also ended Ritchie's life, but his influence extends even beyond those two recordings.
Ritchie Valens' biggest hits:
"Come On, Let's Go"
"We Belong Together"
"Ooh! My Head"
Where you might have heard him The 1987 biopic La Bamba, one of the first such rock biographies to be a serious hit; "La Bamba" is heard in the movies Grease and White Chicks, "Come On, Let's Go" is featured in the 2002 crime drama Deuces Wild
Born: Richard Steven Valenzuela, May 13, 1941, Los Angeles, CA (Pacoima); died February 3, 1959 (Clear Lake, IA)
Genres Rockabilly, Rock and Roll, Tex-Mex
Instruments Vocals, Guitar
Claims to fame:
The first Latin-American to make significant inroads into the rock and roll scene.
Among the first rock and rollers to blend traditional Latin music with the new beat
Instrumental in introducing the Danelectro bass into rock
Perfected an image that was tough yet vulnerable in his songs
His ebullient vocals garnered him the nickname "The Little Richard of San Fernando"
Combined the tremelo urgency of Bo Diddley with Buddy Holly's romanticism
Subject of one of rock's first live albums
Richie was born into a family that loved blues and R&B as much as it did the traditional Latin songs that made up its culture, and this would prove to be a profound influence on him. Unfortunately, his parents were separated, and his father died when he was ten. By seventh grade the young Valens was playing the guitar and imitating the latest rock performers for his classmates. By high school, he was performing with local garage rockers The Silhouettes as their main singer and guitarist.
Neophyte entertainment manager Bob Keane was tipped off to Valens by a printer's assistant, and the 17-year-old Richie was soon recording demos of songs in Keane's basement.
During the infamous Winter Dance Party Tour of 1959, just one year after the success of "Come On, Let's Go," Ritchie Valens was killed, along with Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper, in a plane crash near Clear Lake, IA. Although his untimely demise makes him necessarily one of rock's more tragic figures, it is his musical legacy which survives him, specifically, his groundbreaking mix of musical styles and his honesty
More about Ritchie Valens
Ritchie Valens facts and trivia:
Manager Bob Keane convinced Richie to shorten his last name and add a distinctive "t" to his first
Keane was also the first to suggest Valens make a rock song out of the traditonal "La Bamba"
Valens wrote "Donna" for fellow San Fernando High classmate Donna Ludwig, and even played an early version of it over the phone
His half-live album Ritchie Valens In Concert at Pacoima Jr. High, released in 1960, is considered one of the era's great live recordings
The movie La Bamba is ostensibly about Valens' life, even though many parts are inaccurate
Ritchie Valens awards and honors Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2001), GRAMMY Hall of Fame (2000), Rockabilly Hall of Fame (1999), Hollywood Walk of Fame (6733 Hollywood Blvd.)
Ritchie Valens hit singles:
Top 10 hits:
Pop: "Donna" (1959)
Movies and TV Valens made his only screen appearance ever in the Alan Freed musical Go, Johnny, Go! (1959), but instead of singing "Donna," his big hit at the time, he performed "Ooh! My Head"
Notable covers Led Zeppelin turned the Valens single "Ooh! My Head" into "Boogie with Stu" on the 1975 album Physical Graffiti, with credit given to his widow as "Mrs. Valens"; Los Lobos had hits all over again with "La Bamba" and "Come On, Let's Go" in 1987 when they rerecorded them for the La Bamba film soundtrack; that same year, "Weird Al" Yankovic parodied "La Bamba" as "Lasagna"
ter a day spent voting in closed session Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte North Carolina, the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel determined the next five inductees in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. NASCAR announced the class of five early Wednesday evening. The 2016 class consists of Jerry Cook, Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte, O. Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner. In addition, Harold Brasington won the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.
In all, there were 20 nominees for the induction class of 2016 and the five nominees for the Landmark Award. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton announced the class and Landmark Award winner, in the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s "Great Hall."
The five inductees came from a group of 20 nominees that included, in addition to the five inductees chosen: Buddy Baker, Red Byron, Richard Childress, Ray Evernham, Ray Fox, Rick Hendrick, Harry Hyde, Alan Kulwicki, Mark Martin, Hershel McGriff, Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, Larry Phillips, Mike Stefanik and Robert Yates.
The Class of 2016 was determined by votes cast by the Voting Panel, which included representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from major facilities and historic short tracks, media members, manufacturer representatives, retired competitors (drivers, owners, crew chiefs), recognized industry leaders. In addition there was a nationwide fan vote conducted through NASCAR.com and, for the second year, the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion (Kevin Harvick). In all, 57 votes were cast. Two additional Voting Panel members abstained from voting since they were potential nominees for induction (Jerry Cook and Robert Yates). The accounting firm of Ernst & Young presided over the tabulation of the votes.
O. Bruton Smith (68%) led the voting followed by Terry Labonte (61%), Curtis Turner (60%), Jerry Cook (47%) and Bobby Isaac (44%). The next top vote-getters were Red Byron, Benny Parsons and Rick Hendrick. Results for the NASCAR.com Fan Vote, in alphabetical order, were Buddy Baker, Alan Kulwicki, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin and Benny Parsons.
Nominees for the Landmark Award included Brasington, H.Clay Earles, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Ken Squier. It is awarded to competitors or those working in the sport who have acted as a NASCAR ambassador through a professional or non-professional role. Anne B. France won the inaugural award last year. Next year’s Induction Ceremony is scheduled for Friday, January 22, 2016, and will be broadcast on NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, live from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Class of 2016 Inductees:
Jerry Cook made his name in modifieds, winning six NASCAR Modified championships, including four consecutively from 1974-77. All the while, he was vying with another driver from his hometown of Rome, New York, nine-time champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Richie Evans, for supremacy in NASCAR’s open-wheel realm. After retiring from racing in 1982, Cook stayed with the sport and helped shape the series known today as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Cook served as the series’ director when it began in 1985 and remains with NASCAR as competition administrator.
Bobby Isaac’s uncanny skill at drawing speed from a race car puts him on a short list of NASCAR legends. His 49 career poles ranks 10th all time. Maybe more impressive: Isaac captured 19 poles in 1969, which still stands as the record for poles in a single season. Isaac began racing in NASCAR’s premier series in 1961. He finished runner-up in the series standings in 1968 behind NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson. In 1969, he finished sixth in the standings after posting 17 wins and those 19 poles. In 1970, Isaac won the championship posting 11 victories, 32 top fives and 38 top 10s in 47 starts. Isaac won 37 races in NASCAR's top series, ranking 19th on the all-time list.
Terry Labonte is a two-nickname NASCAR star. Early in his career he was known as the "Iceman" for his coolness under pressure. But his demeanor belied his determination. Later in his career he became known as the sport’s "Iron Man" thanks to 665 consecutive starts in NASCAR’s premier series, a record which stood until 2002. Winning two premier series championships, in 1984 and ’96, is impressive; the 12-year gap distinguishes Labonte further. No other driver has won his first two championships that far apart and Labonte is one of only six drivers with championships in two decades. Labonte’s stellar career is tucked between perfect bookends, his two Southern 500 wins, in 1980 and 2003. His 361 top-10 finishes ranks 10th all time.
O. Bruton Smith
O. Bruton Smith, executive chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., promoted his first stock car race in Midland, North Carolina at the age of 18. Smith’s early endeavors included operating the National Stock Car Racing Association. seen as an early competitor to NASCAR, and building Charlotte Motor Speedway. CMS became the foundation of Speedway Motorsports Inc., which currently owns eight NASCAR tracks hosting 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and additional high-profile motorsports activities. Smith took SMI public in 1995, the first motorsports company to be traded at the New York Stock Exchange. He was inducted into the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame and National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame, both in 2006; and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007.
Called by some the "Babe Ruth of stock car racing," Curtis Turner was among the fastest and most colorful competitors in the early years of NASCAR premier series racing. Turner competed in NASCAR’s first "Strictly Stock" race in 1949 in Charlotte and was the only driver to win a NASCAR premier series race in a Nash. He posted his first of 17 career victories in only his fourth start on Sept. 11, 1949, at Langhorne (Pennsylvania) Speedway. Although many of Turner’s victories came on short tracks and dirt ovals, much of his career pre-dated NASCAR’s superspeedway era, he won the 1956 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and the first American 500 at Rockingham Speedway in 1965. He remains the only series driver to win two consecutive races from the pole leading every lap. He also won 38 of 79 races in which he competed in the NASCAR Convertible Division.
Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR:
Harold Brasington, a South Carolina businessman, believed in Bill France’s fledgling NASCAR business, created the sanctioning body’s first superspeedway, a one-of-a-kind egg-shaped oval, paved on an old cotton and peanut field. Expecting 10,000 fans to show up at Darlington Raceway’s first competition on Labor Day of 1950, 25,000 spectators showed up for the inaugural Southern 500, NASCAR’s first 500-mile race. Darlington's success inspired Brasington to extend his reach north, to North Carolina. He employed his track building and promoting expertise, helping in the creation of Charlotte Motor Speedway and building North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, North Carolina.
Few players in BYU history have been able to capture the hearts of Cougar fans like Kresimir Cosic did from 1970-73. The 6-foot-11 center from Zadar, Yugoslavia, entertained fans during his stellar career with his enthusiastic, guard-like play.
Whether it was leading the fastbreak, dribbling between his legs or shooting a sky-hook, Cosic’s enthusiasm and on-court antics endeared him to almost everyone who saw him play.
During his career at BYU, Cosic used his versatile inside-outside game to lead the Cougars in scoring (23.3) and rebounding (13.0) as a junior and again as a senior (20.2 points per game). His unselfish attitude helped him to lead his team in assists.
He ranks second on BYU’s all-time rebounding list with 919, an average of 11.6 per game, and fourth all-time with a 19.1 career scoring average while recording a BYU-record 47 double-doubles. He was a three-time first-team All-WAC selection and an All-American his junior and senior years. He likely would have been a four-year all-conference award winner but freshmen at that time were not allowed to play on varsity. Behind the play of Cosic, the Cougars won two WAC titles and reached the NCAA Regional Tournament in 1971 and 1972.
Upon graduation, Cosic became very much involved with basketball throughout Europe. He had offers to play in the NBA from the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers but he chose to return home and play for the Yugoslavian National Team for $250 a week. Cosic played on four Olympic teams with his native land, winning a gold medal in 1980 and two silver medals in 1968 and 1976. He ended his career as his countries all-time scoring leader and went on to coach the Yugoslavian national team for many years.
His national and international accomplishments led to his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., on May 6, 1996, making Cosic the first BYU player and second Cougar along with former coach Stan Watts to receive the prestigious honor. He is also a member of the Utah Basketball Hall of Fame, inducted in 2001.
In September of 1992, Cosic was appointed as deputy ambassador for Croatia to the United States. He and his family lived in Washington D.C where he performed his diplomatic duties in the same excellent manner in which he played basketball.
On May 25, 1995, Cosic lost his battle against the toughest opponent of his career – cancer. During his 46 years on earth, Cosic became one of the most influential and well-known of all European basketball players. He left behind the legacy and credit of being the individual that first introduced the American game of basketball to Europe.
During the 2005 NCAAâ€ˆMen’s Basketball Tournament, CBS Television analyst Billy Packer singled out Cosic while discussing the quality of international players playing college basketball. Said Packer, “Kresimir Cosic, who played at BYU, was really the first great international player to play college basketball in the United States.”
Cosic played in BYU’s first game on the Marriott Center floor in 1971. His No. 11 jersey was retired by BYU on Mar. 4, 2006 in a halftime ceremony with 20,732 fans in attendance, which was also the last time the original Marriott Center floor was used before being replaced during the summer of 2006.
"It's very impressive that Kreso is not forgotten here," said Cosic's wife Ljerka, through her daughter Ana, at the retirement ceremony. "Kreso never forgot Provo. He loved his Croatia and always spoke of it as the most beautiful place on Earth, but Provo forever remained his second home. Provo and BYU marked his life forever."