"They got the Coke glasses just right. Our relationship was a very, very short part of his very short life. Her son, born Ricardo Valenzuela, grew up in Central California farm camps and worked as a laborer in the orchards of Campbell. The excited screams of her friends drowned out the rest of the tune, but she had already recognized it. In the mid-1950s, the family moved to the Los Angeles suburb of Pacoima, where the teen-ager attended high school and began playing in a rock band. It was rough," Donna told The Post. Here she is, a middle-aged woman who worries about her double chin, talking to the media about this kid who will be forever 17.

She flips over a few pages to another photograph. Pale and thin, she clutched a framed 8-by-10 picture of Valens hard against her chest. The marriage only lasted a year. She worked as a waitress, a farm worker, a bartender and a house cleaner. I was not sweet and innocent, I was more of a hell-raiser. He sang her the first part of "Donna" and, Donna told ABC during a special, "of course I cried.

Since then Fox-Coots has married twice more. "We used to argue about that. She had cried hearing it then, not because she suspected he would ever make her famous by recording it, but because she was 15 years old and to have a boy sing a song he'd written about her, even late at night when no one else could hear, seemed enough like a dream come true. You know, things like that. ", For almost 30 years now people have been asking her if Valens was the love of her life. You most likely recognize his iconic hit, "La Bamba," which came out in 1958, when Ritchie was only 17. She has two daughters who grew up bragging to their friends that their mother was the actual Donna. "I have to tell myself, 'No, Donna! "Going back to school after he died was so hard. Eerily enough, it was known that Ritchie had a tremendous fear of flying after witnessing two planes collide when he was younger. "It's really too much. Fox-Coots, whose father managed a Packard automobile dealership in Beverly Hills, regularly sneaked out of her bedroom window to meet Valens at San Fernando hangouts like the Rainbow Roller Rink or Bob's Big Boy. The woman, Diane Olson, showed up at Valens' funeral and told his family they'd been engaged. "I was attracted to him because he was a nice man, er ..." She stops herself. So he had a girlfriend. She says she'd love to tell the world what it's like to be a living legend, but says she's never really felt like one. It's no accident that Fox-Coots doesn't list her father among her dear ones. She received more than 8,000 lettersafter a fan magazine printed her address. I hung up the phone and called my attorney. She moved out of her father's house on her 18th birthday and never visited him again.

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