“Donna”  is a song sung by Ritchie Valens, featuring the 50’s progression.  The song was released in 1958 on Del-Fi Records.  It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart the following year, becoming Valens’ highest-charting single.  It was written as a tribute to his high school sweetheart Donna Ludwig, now known as Donna Fox.  (More from Wikipedia)
Sadly the Latin presence in American rock and roll is not at all recognized.  Most people only know about Ritchie Valens, who had a couple of hit songs back in the 1950’s, “Donna” (or “Oh Donna”) and La Bamba (the title of a 1987 biopic film about him, La Bamba starring Lou Diamond Phillips).  Along with the better known Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper, Valens died in the 1959 plane crash in Iowa that was immortalized in Don McLean’s haunting American Pie as The Day the Music Died
(January 2011)
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Ritchie Valens follow-up single, “Donna” was completely different and became a bonafide hit, peaking at #2 on the charts at the end of 1958.  “Donna” inspired a host of other songs addressed to female loves, most directly Dion’s “Donna the Prima Donna” (Dion and the Belmonts were also along on the Winter Dance Party), but also Neil Sedaka’s “Oh, Carol!” and “Denise” by Randy and the Rainbows (later covered by Blondie as “Denis”). 


Legendary rock critic Lester Bangs has written of this song:  “[Ritchie] Valens sang with an unassuming sincerity that made him more truly touching than any other artist from his era.  ‘Donna’ is one of the classic teen love ballads, one of the few which reaches through layers of maudlin sentiment to give you the true and unmistakable sensation of what it must have been like to be a teenager in that strange decade. . . .  The agonizing sense of frustration which is so crucial to adolescent life is never very far from his lyrics; and in his best songs, like ‘Donna’ and ‘Come On, Let’s Go, it is right up front, just as it is in Eddie Cochran’s classic ‘Summertime Blues.” 

(June 2013/1)
Last edited: March 22, 2021