Bob Morales was 21 years old when his famous younger brother, Ritchie Valens, died in a plane crash. After his brother’s death, Morales’ life continued downward with his alcohol addiction. And after his recovery, he successfully beat prostate cancer. But throughout this turmoil, Morales never forgot his brother and the love they shared.
Bob Morales is the older brother of late 1950s singing sensation Ritchie Valens. The rock ‘n’ roll pioneer was one of the first exponents of the Chicano rock movement. Valens had several hit songs like “La Bamba,” “Come On, Let’s Go,” “Donna,” and “Little Girl.”
Loss of a Young Star
Ritchie Valens died in a plane crash on February 3, 1959, in Mason City, Iowa. And the country lost one of its most talented singers.
Valens had four siblings, most notably his older brother, Bob Morales, who was portrayed as a bike-riding enthusiast in the 1987 movie La Bamba.
Many are wondering what happened to Ritchie Valen’s brother. We got the details, so read on to find out!
Still Painful to Watch
Morales was just 21 years old when Valens died, and he took it hard. By his own admission, Morales still finds it very difficult to sit and watch La Bamba, which is about him and his brother.
He once said, “You’re watching the movie. I’m watching the real thing. It still gets to me.” However, he is happy that so many people still watch the movie to learn about his brother, saying, “People like you are keeping his memory alive.”
Addicted to Alcohol
After Morales learned about his brother’s death, he became bitter and angry at the world and started drinking heavily.
He said about that time, “I used to drink all day and I used to tear the house down. I also got a little abusive with Rosie [his girlfriend at that time].”
Morales’ struggle with alcohol led him to a detox center several times. He later worked there as a substance abuse counselor, though he was unsure if he could do the job properly.
In 2012, Morales found out that he had prostate cancer. And it took a toll as he had to undergo 42 radiation therapies in 42 days.
After this treatment, Morales was struck by depression. He still remembered how he felt during that time.
“I had no ambition or motivation to do anything. The doctor told me to drink a lot of water to wash everything out of my system. A few months passed by and I started to feel a lot better. When I went back for testing, most of my cancer cells were gone,” Morales said.
He then started supporting the non-profit organization, Grind Out Hunger.
Bob Morales Passes Away
Bob Morales passed away on September 15, 2018, at the age of 81, after battling prostate cancer. His daughter, Bly Morales, shared the news on Facebook and confirmed the same.
She wrote, “My dad Bob passed away this evening. My heart is so heavy…but we knew he was ready… he’s with his brother now.”
Morales continued his efforts to help addicts and fought for various causes after La Bamba was released. His family members have frequently expressed how much they appreciate the fan support they have received since the film’s release.
As long as people remember Ritchie Valens and his music, they will also not forget his older brother, Bob Morales.