The  Story  Behind

It began with an e-mail I received 2 weeks ago.

 A German Buddy Holly & 3 Stars fan wrote me that he found 

an article in a German magazine.

As he said, the article might be of interest to the readers of my website.

This article was about Ritchie Valens, the youngest victim of the tragic plane crash on

 February 3rd, 1959, a day that went down in history and is still called THE DAY THE

 MUSIC DIED, thanks to Don McLean, it also ended the lives of Buddy Holly and J.P.

 Richardson (The Big Bopper).


Yeehaaw! Editor's Note, Part 1:

Following a rumor I started to collect some information and after a phone call everything was clear: 

I was on the track of one of the most obscure Rock'n Roll memorabilia objects. 

No, this time it wasn't about a record, but about a gravestone; more precisely that of Ritchie Valens! 

It is known that J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper), Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens died in a plane crash on 3.2.1959. 

Ritchie was buried at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery. 

In 1987 Ritchie's mother died shortly after the performance of "La Bamba" in which she was still playing.
She had already secured herself a place next to her son's grave. 

Thereupon the original gravestone was exchanged for a new one with the names and dates of mother and son. 

No one knew what to do with the old stone, so the stonemason took it with him and put it in his hall. 

In the hall of the stonemason

Years later his son came across it and as chance would have it, 

he knew a Hollywood-based dealer for Hollywood memorabilia. 

The coroner's report

After that the gravestone landed profanely on Ebay, 

where the collector Harald Hertlein became aware of it. 

Ritchie's 1st gravestone



Yeehaaw! Editor's Note, Part 2:

Harald is one of the few absolute Ritchie Valens fans and collectors, 

long before the film "La Bamba" was released and Ritchie became really known. 

So after some back and forth the stone reached Leverkusen, 

where Harald had it walled into the wall of his office.

Maybe the whole thing seems a bit macabre to some people, but as Harald remarked: 

"Too bad to throw away, too curious to own, but just awesome." 

Such a thing is unique. 

      So, if you want to save yourself the trip to California, 

                            Ritchie's original gravestone is in Leverkusen, Germany.  


© Yeehaaw Magazine 

Translation by Hans

The additional pics for this topic were sent in by Uwe Kischkel, editor of the magazine.

For further information / Für weitere Informationen :


Many thanks, vielen Dank, Uwe!

Hans, editor www.buddyhollylives.info