The music world mourns the loss of a legend as the sad news spreads of the death of Trini Lopez. He died of COVID yesterday. He was 83 years old.
Image Credit: First Post
Lopez was known for blending American folk, Latin and rockabilly styles to create his own brand of music that captivated listeners. He has a string of hit records in the early 1960’s. He was best known for his recordings of “If I Had a Hammer” and “Lemon Tree”. Although those were both hits by folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, Lopez’s versions placed even higher on the Billboard Top 100 chart.
The musician’s success was largely due to his ability to blend musical styles. He took folk music, the popular genre of the time, and added a touch of Buddy Holly and Carl Perkins inspired rockabilly.
“Making songs danceable helped me a lot,” Lopez revealed to the media in 2014. “Discotheques back in those days were not only playing my songs, they were playing my album all the way through.”
But Lopez’s inspiration didn’t stop there. His Mexican heritage came through in the music he produced and he added hoots and trills from Mexican folk to emphasize his culture. Although some thought adding an ethnic influence would hurt his career, Lopez embraced his roots. “I insisted on keeping my name Lopez,” he told the press in 2017. “I’m proud to be a Lopez. I’m proud to be Mexican.”
Lopez’s talent in blending musical styles quickly paid off. His 1963 debut album, “Live at PJ’s” went gold. Recorded at a popular Los Angeles nightclub, it featured hits like “If I Had a Hammer” and “La Bamba”.
Other songs that got him recognition include “Kansas City” and “I’m Coming Home Cindy” both of which became Top 40 hits. In fact, Lopez made Billboard magazine’s adult contemporary Top 40 charts 15 times in his career.
In addition to being a great singer, Lopez was also a talented guitar player. He designed two Gibson guitars which went on to become collector’s items. Both Noel Gallagher of Oasis and David Grohl of the Food Fighters play Lopez signature Gibsons.
But Lopez’s talent doesn’t end there. He also appeared in the movie “The Dirty Dozen” where he played a convict names Pedro Jimenez. Others in the cast include Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson and John Cassavetes.
He had cameos in the movies “The Poppy is a Flower” and “The Phynx”. He also appeared on two episodes of the NBC series “Adam -12” and performed in the movie “Marriage on the Rocks”.
Many of Lopez’s colleagues are remembering the singer today. Singer/actor Pat Boone stated, "What a great guy and wonderful friend. We played in celebrity tennis tournaments and laughed and sang. We both knew we were blessed to make a good living doing what we loved — making others happy! I'll miss him — for a little while."
Lopez’s life will be celebrated for all his wonderful accomplishments and the great music he has given to the world.