Released: Feb 1959
Valens' meteoric rise and fall is so romantically tragic that the story has long clouded the innovative nature of his music. Along with Buddy Holly, Ricky Nelson and Eddie Cochran, all of whom lived well west of the Mississippi, the precocious Mexican-American teenager helped drag rockabilly out of the South, thus laying the foundation for the music's transition into rock. What totally stands outs on his self-titled debut -- released posthumously, mind you -- is his chiming guitar strum. Its influence can be heard in the music of The Kinks, Del Shannon, The Searchers, Tom Petty and more.