Ritchie Valens Brother: The Unsung Hero of Rock and Roll

Ritchie Valens was one of the most influential rock and roll stars of the 1950s, whose life and career were cut short by a tragic plane crash that also claimed the lives of Buddy Holly and J.P. Richardson.

But what about his older brother, Bob Morales, who was portrayed by Esai Morales in the biopic La Bamba? Who was he, and what did he do for a living?

In this article, we will explore the untold story of Bob Morales, Ritchie Valens’ brother, who was a rock and roll legend in his own right.

We will learn about his early life, his relationship with Ritchie, his musical talent, his struggles, and his legacy.

An infographic on ritchie valens brother
An infographic on ritchie valens brother

Early Life and Relationship with Ritchie

Bob Morales was born in Pacoima, California, in 1938, as the eldest of the three Morales children.

His parents were Joseph Steven Valenzuela and Concepción “Concha” Reyes, who divorced when Bob was young.

Bob and Ritchie, along with their sister Connie, were raised by their mother, who worked as a farm worker, a waitress, a bartender, and a house cleaner.

He and Ritchie had a close but sometimes turbulent relationship, as they often fought and competed with each other.

Bob was a rebellious and adventurous teenager, who dropped out of school, joined a gang, and got into trouble with the law.

He also had a passion for music, playing the guitar and singing in a band called The Silhouettes.

Ritchie, on the other hand, was a shy and studious kid, who excelled in school and music.

He learned to play the guitar from Bob, and joined a rock band in high school.

He soon caught the attention of record label executives and became a hit sensation with songs like “La Bamba”, “Come On, Let’s Go”, and “Donna”.

Bob was proud of his brother’s success, but also felt jealous and insecure.

He often clashed with Ritchie over his fame, his girlfriend, and his lifestyle.

However, he also supported and protected him, especially from their abusive father, who tried to exploit Ritchie’s money and fame.

Musical Talent and Personal Struggles

Bob Morales was a talented musician in his own right, who had a charismatic and gritty personality.

He was known for his trademark mohawk, his leather jacket, and his Nikes.

He was also a heavy smoker and drinker, who often used marijuana and other drugs.

Bob continued to play music after Ritchie’s death, performing with various bands and artists, such as The Grateful Dead, Santana, and Los Lobos.

He also became involved with the local music scene in Watsonville, California, where he moved with his mother and sister in 1962.

He supported the group Guitars, not Guns, which provided free guitars and lessons to at-risk youth.

However, Bob also faced many personal struggles throughout his life.

He suffered from depression, PTSD, and survivor’s guilt, as he blamed himself for Ritchie’s death.

Bob also had several failed marriages and relationships and fathered seven children with different women.

He battled with prostate cancer, which went into remission several times but eventually took his life in 2018.

Legacy and Tribute

Bob Morales was a local legend in Watsonville, where he was loved and respected by many people.

He was also a national icon, as he was immortalized in the film La Bamba, which was released in 1987.

The film portrayed his relationship with Ritchie, and his reaction to his death. Esai Morales, who played Bob in the film, became close friends with him, and paid tribute to him after his passing.

Bob Morales was also a devoted brother, who never forgot Ritchie, and always honored his memory.

He attended many events and ceremonies dedicated to Ritchie, such as the unveiling of his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the renaming of the Pacoima Middle School auditorium after him.

He also kept in touch with Ritchie’s fans and shared stories and photos of him on social media.

Bob Morales was a rock and roll legend, who lived a life full of music, adventure, love, and pain.

He was Ritchie Valens’ brother, but he was also much more.

Bob was a man who touched many hearts and left a lasting impression on the world.

He was Bob Morales, and this is his untold story.


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