To Connie, however, Ritchie was just a big brother.
She told the Mason City Globe Gazette in 2011 that she remembers Ritchie entertaining his younger siblings with his guitar during weekends when mom was working. It wasn't until she attended one of his concerts and saw teenage girls going mad for the dashing teenage guitar hero that Connie began to understand his fame.
During the filming of "La Bamba," the 1987 biopic with Lou Diamond Phillips in the lead role, Connie said her unreconciled feelings of grief rose to the surface when Phillips boarded the plane for the crash scene. Connie began weeping. When Phillips tried to console her, she responded by saying "Why did you get on that plane Ritchie."
In DVD releases of the film, the special features include an interview in which Phillips recalls the moment as well.
"It was about closure," Connie said. "I've always wanted to say that to my brother."
Here in south-central Minnesota, the ill-fated Winter Dance Party remains engrained in local music culture. The tour criss-crossed Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, playing the ballrooms and dance halls that dotted the Midwest landscape. The tour included a stop in Mankato on Jan. 25 as well as a stop two nights later in Montevideo.
In addition to Connie's performance on Saturday in St. James, she will perform a concert on Jan. 24 at the Kato Ballroom in Mankato.
If You Go What Three Stars Plaza fundraiser concert, featuring Connie Valens, and Denny and the DC Drifters When Doors open at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday Where The Hayloft, 1311 7th Ave. S. in St. James Tickets $25, with proceeds benefiting an addition to Three Stars Plaza. Tickets include food, soft drinks and birthday cake. More info Call 507-621-0168