Local icon Bob Morales, brother of Ritchie Valens, passed away Saturday

Morales is a Central Coast resident

Local icon Bob Morales brother of Ritchie Valens passed away Saturday

If you've seen "La Bamba," you know Bob Morales. He's the boisterous older brother of late rock n' roll star Ritchie Valens. 

Morales, a longtime Central Coast resident, died Saturday at the age of 81. He was suffering from prostate cancer. 

"People would ask him about Ritchie and he would well up with tears and cry. And I kind of related with that as I look at all these comments and posts," Morales' daughter, Bly Morales, tells KION. 

We met with Bly and Morales' wife, Joanie, at their home in Royal Oaks. 

Joanie says the 1987 hit movie means a lot to Morales, helping him explore his Mexican roots. 

"Throughout this process he learned to love his culture and the people, and the notoriety that he got for being Ritchie's brother," Joanie said. 

While Valens was the star, Morales was the every man. Longtime friend and former Watsonville Mayor Daniel Dodge explained the reason why. 

"From the family life that was expressed on the screen, and they felt part of it and connected to it. And they felt that way with Bob," Dodge said. 

Bly shared a similar understanding, saying someone told her, "people related to Ritchie and idolized him because he was a rock n' roll star. But they related to and idolize your dad because he was just a real guy. So I think it was just him being so real and open and honest about his life." 

The stories you see in the film are based in truth, fights and all. 

"It was pretty nice in comparison to the real [thing]. He was a varmint. He was radical," Joanie said.

But that's not who he was once he met Joanie, in Santa Cruz, and raised a family on the Central Coast.  

"People do change," Joanie said. "[He is the] most loving, forgiving, accepting person I'd ever known."

Morales was involved with different local groups, musical and charitable, giving what he could to anyone who asked or needed. 

"One of his most famous saying was 'If I have it, then you have it. Because that's just who he was," Bly said. 


Original Story (9/17/18)

Local and cultural icon, Bob Morales, died Saturday. 

The Central Coast resident is the brother of rock and roll star Ritchie Valens. 

Valens, who's song "La Bamba" - one of the biggest music hits of all time, was portrayed with Morales in 1987 move "La Bamba.," about Valens' life.

"It is really an end of an era for many of this generation who really changed rock and roll history," Monterey County Supervisor, and friend of Morales, Luis Alejo said. 

Morales and much of his family live in the Watsonville area, where he was active in the community. 

Alejo tells KION Morales was involved in the local music scene, and worked with the group "Guitars not Guns."

"It's nice to interact with the local families and local icons like Bob Morales because he always tried to do his part to make Watsonville better," Alejo said. "Most of all, anyone who ever met Bob will tell you he was a great friend and a good man. And when we lose local icons like Bob Morales, certainly our local communities won't be the same." 

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