Who is Bob Morales?

Roberto ‘Bob’ Morales was born in 1937, in the San Fernando Valley, California USA, of Mexican ancestry, and passed away in 2018 in Watsonville, California at the age of 81. He was known as a mechanic and avid motorcycle and car enthusiast, but was probably best recognized for being the elder half-brother of the famous guitarist, singer and songwriter, Ritchie Valens.

How rich is he, as of now? Bob Morales Net Worth

At the time of his death, Bob Morales’ net worth was estimated at over $100,000, acquired through his career as a mechanic. On the other hand, his brother Ritchie Valens had a fortune earned through his involvement in the music industry, estimated at over $500,000 before he died.

Early Life, Parents, Siblings, Nationality, Ethnicity, Religion, Educational Background, Personal Life, Death

Bob Morales spent his early years in the San Fernando Valley – his biological father remained a mystery, while his mother was Concepción ‘Concha’ Reyes. When he was two years old, his mother remarried to José Esteban Valenzuela, who adopted him and raised him as his own son, but they divorced when he was 14 years old. He had two younger half-brothers, Ritchie Valens and Mario Ramirez, and two younger half-sisters named Irma and Connie. He held American nationality, belonged to the Hispanic ethnic group, and was a Christian.

During the 1950s, he worked temporarily with his family in San Jose agricultural camps. Regarding his education, Bob attended San Fernando High School, but was kicked out due to his behavioral problems, and sent to Rancho San Antonio’s Boys Home, where he spent several years. When he was 22 years old, his younger brother Ritchie was killed in a plane crash; following the tragedy, he started drinking heavily, and became addicted to drugs. At the time, he was married to Rosie Caballero, whom he met in Northern California and with whom he had seven children, named Brenda, Nora, Robert, Barbara, Jeery, Richard and one more.

In the 1970s, he left them and moved to Santa Cruz County, where he ended up working as a substance abuse counselor at a detox center, where he met his future wife Joanie; they married in 1979.

Bob Morales spent most of his life working as a mechanic. He was also a well-known motorcycle and car enthusiast, who enjoyed his time behind the wheel even though he didn’t have a driver’s license in his last 25 years. He was portrayed by actor Esai Morales in the 1987 biopic “La Bamba” about his brother Ritchie’s life. In 2012, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and underwent 42 radiation therapy sessions in 42 days, after which he became a supporter of the non-profit organization Grind Out Hunger.

However, his cancer returned, and he passed away at the age of 81, leaving behind his children and more than 30 grandchildren.

Who was his brother? Ritchie Valens Short Wiki/Bio

Richard Steven Valenzuela, better known by his stage name Ritchie Valens, was born on 13 May 1941 under the zodiac sign of Taurus, in Pacoima, California USA, and passed away on 3 February 1959 in Clear Lake, Iowa USA at the age of 17. He is considered a forefather of the Chicano rock movement, and a pioneer of the Spanish-speaking rock’n’roll movement.

Career Beginnings

Ritchie grew up listening to traditional Mexican mariachi music, flamenco, jump blues, and R&B, and developing his love for performing, expressing his interest in making music on his own by the time he turned five.

Image source

Encouraged by his father, Ritchie learned to play the guitar, trumpet, and drums. While he attended Pacoima Junior High School, he used to bring his guitar along and play songs to his friends. He then enrolled into San Fernando High School, where he joined the rock band called The Silhouettes as a guitarist at the age of 16. When their main vocalist left the band, he took the position and made his performing debut with them on 19 October 1957. In a short time, he became very popular due to his improvisational skill, and was known as ‘the Little Richard of San Fernando’.

Rise to Fame

He soon caught the attention of the owner of small record label Del-Fi Records in Hollywood, Bob Keane, who invited Ritchie to an audition, and signed him to the label in May 1958.

He chose the name ‘Ritchie’ to be different from all other ‘Richards’ in the music industry, and shortened his surname to ‘Valens’. He immediately started recording demos with a full band, that included such musicians as Carol Kaye, Earl Palmer and René Hall. The first songs they recorded at a single session were “Framed” and “Come On, Let’s Go”, both of which were instant hits, the latter peaking at No. 42 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No. 10 on the UK Singles Chart.

His next and final disc that had two songs – “Donna” and “La Bamba” – was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), since it sold more than a million copies.

The song “Donna” was a tribute to Donna Ludwig, his high school sweetheart, and was his highest-charting single, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. His most notable song was “La Bamba”, which was adapted from a Mexican folk song and ranked No. 345 on the list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine. His recording of the song was even inducted into the Latin Grammy Hall of Fame.

Further Career and Death

In 1958, Ritchie quit high school to focus on his career, and started touring across the US, and making appearances on various TV programs. Although he previously had a fear of flying since witnessing a terrible plane accident at a young age, he managed to overcome his fear.

The following year, he and his band went on the “Winter Dance Party” tour across the Midwest, which proved to be quite difficult since they had long journeys between venues and traveled in cold and uncomfortable buses which affected their health, so after their performance in Clear Lake, Iowa, they charter a small plane to reach their next venue. Shortly after the plane took off, the pilot lost control and it crashed, killing them all. Besides Ritchie and pilot Roger Peterson, there were also musicians Buddy Holly and ‘The Big Bopper’ J. P. Richardson on board.

The day of the tragic accident became known as “The Day the Music Died”, as Don McLean wrote in his 1971 song “American Pie”. In 2001, Ritchie was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

Write A Comment

Pin It