“Donna” is a song sung by Ritchie Valens, featuring the 50s 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.
The song was recorded on December 16, 1958 at the Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles. Bob Keene is listed as being the leader of the session which included Earl Palmer on drums, Buddy Clark on bass, Valens, Rene Hall, Irving Ashby and Carole Kaye on guitars.
“Donna“, the second Ritchie Valens single released, was the A side of the influential and more famous song “La Bamba”. This single was only one of three, along with the previous single (“Come On, Let’s Go”/”Framed” – Del-Fi 4106) and the follow-up (“Fast Freight”/”Big Baby Blues” – Del-Fi 4111) ever released in Valens’s lifetime. Original Del-Fi pressings of “Donna”/”La Bamba” include black and sea green labels with circles, later replaced with solid sea green or solid dark green labels. Early 1960s pressings have black labels with sea green “sawtooth” outer edge.
Valens’ version was positioned at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart when Valens died. Three weeks after Valens’ death, the song peaked at #2.