Trinidad López III (May 13, 1937 – August 11, 2020) was an American singer, guitarist, and actor. His first album included a cover version of “If I Had a Hammer”, which earned a Golden Disc for him. His other hits included “Lemon Tree”, “I’m Comin’ Home, Cindy” and “Sally Was a Good Old Girl”. He designed two guitars for the Gibson Guitar Corporation, which are now collectors’ items.
Lopez was born in Dallas, Texas, on May 13, 1937. His father, Trinidad Lopez II, worked as a singer, dancer, actor, and musician in Mexico; his mother was Petra Gonzalez. They married in their hometown of Moroleón, Guanajuato, prior to moving to Dallas. Lopez had four sisters (two are deceased) and a brother, Jesse, who is also a singer. He grew up on Ashland Street in the Little Mexico neighborhood of Dallas and attended grammar school and N. R. Crozier Tech High School. He dropped out of high school in his senior year in order to earn money to help support the family.
Lopez formed his first band in Wichita Falls, Texas, at the age of 15. Around 1955/56 Trini Lopez and his band worked at The Vegas Club, a nightclub owned by Jack Ruby, the nightclub owner who assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald, avenging Oswald’s assassination of JFK .In 1957, at the recommendation of Buddy Holly’s father, Trini and his group “The Big Beats” went to producer Norman Petty in Clovis, New Mexico. Petty secured a contract for them with Columbia Records, which released the single “Clark’s Expedition”/”Big Boy”, both instrumental. Lopez left the group and made his first solo recording, his own composition “The Right To Rock”, for the Dallas-based Volk Records, and then signed with King Records in 1959, recording more than a dozen singles for that label, none of which charted. In late 1962, after the King contract expired, Lopez followed up on an offer by producer Snuff Garrett to join the post-Holly Crickets as vocalist. After a few weeks of auditions in Los Angeles, that idea did not go through. He landed a steady engagement at the nightclub PJ’s, where his audience grew quickly. He was heard there by Frank Sinatra, who had started his own label, Reprise Records, and who subsequently signed Lopez.
His debut live album, Trini Lopez at PJ’s (R/RS 6093), was released in 1963. The album included a version of “If I Had a Hammer”, which reached number one in 36 countries (no. 3 in the United States), and was a radio favorite for many years. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. He also performed his own version of the traditional Mexican song “La Bamba” on the album; his recording of the tune was later reissued as a single in 1966. Another live album from PJ’s was recorded later that same year under the title By Popular Demand More Trini Lopez at PJ’s (R/RS 6103), which contains the song “Green Green” which was written by Randy Sparks and Barry McGuire and originally recorded by the New Christy Minstrels earlier that year for their Columbia album Ramblin.
His popularity led the Gibson Guitar Corporation to ask him in 1964 to design a guitar for them. He ended up designing two: the Trini Lopez Standard, a rock and roll model based on the Gibson ES-335 semihollow body, and the Lopez Deluxe, a variation of a Gibson jazz guitar designed by Barney Kessel. Both of these guitars were in production from 1964 until 1971, and are now highly sought-after among collectors. Owners of the guitar include Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Noel Gallagher of Oasis.
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Lopez remained a lifelong bachelor and had no children. His nephew, Trini Martinez, was the drummer for the Dallas indie rock band Bedhead.
Lopez died on August 11, 2020, at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, California. He was 83, and suffered from complications of COVID-19.
Read a more complete bio here:
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Trini Lopez Dies Of COVID-19: ‘Dirty Dozen’ Actor & ‘If I Had A Hammer’ Singer Was 83
Erik Pedersen, Deadline | Trini Lopez, an actor and singer-guitarist who co-starred The Dirty Dozen actor and had hits with “If I Had a Hammer” and “Lemon Tree” — which was referenced in a popular Seinfeld episode — died today in Palm Springs. He was 83. Palm Springs Life magazine reported the news but didn’t give a cause of death. A source tells Deadline it was from COVID-19.
Lopez already was a recording star when he was cast as Pedro Jiminez — aka Number 10 — in The Dirty Dozen, the star-studded 1967 World War II drama directed by Robert Aldrich. It followed the story of a rebellious U.S. Army Major (Lee Marvin) who is assigned a dozen convicted murderers to train and lead them into a mass assassination mission of German officers. Its ensemble cast includes Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, George Kennedy, Telly Savalas and Donald Sutherland.
Lopez also appeared in the Frank Sinatra-Dean Martin romp Marriage on the Rocks (1965), The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966), The Phynx (1970) and played the lead in Antonio (1973). He also guested on such series as Adam-12 and The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries; guest-hosted Hullabaloo a few times; appeared on several game and talk shows and variety specials; and sang on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Andy Williams Show and several others.
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Lopez is the subject of a forthcoming documentary titled My Name Is Lopez, which includes interviews with the likes of his Dirty Dozen co-star Brown, Dionne Warwick, Tony Orlando and ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons. Its producers are P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes; the latter posted news of Lopez’s death on social media today:
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Dave Grohl Remembers Trini Lopez: ‘A Beautiful Musical Legacy’
Spin | Singer Trini Lopez, who is best known for songs like his cover of “If I Had a Hammer,” “I’m Comin’ Home, Cindy,” “Sally Was a Good Old Girl” and “Lemon Tree,” died at the age of 83 in Palm Springs. Variety says The Dirty Dozen actor died due to complications from COVID-19.
Lopez may not have known it, but he had an important role in shaping Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl’s career as well.
In a series of tweets from the Foo Fighters account, Grohl thanked Lopez for his contributions to the band Grohl purchased a 1967 Trini Lopez signature guitar while he was still in Nirvana, and still relies on it to create the Foos’ sound.
“Today the world sadly lost yet another legend, Trini Lopez. Trini not only left a beautiful musical legacy of his own, but also unknowingly helped shape the sound of the Foo Fighters from day one,” the series of tweets began. “Every album we have ever made, from the first to the latest, was recorded with my red 1967 Trini Lopez signature guitar. It is the sound of our band, and my most prized possession from the day I bought it in 1992. Thank you, Trini for all of your contributions.”
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Read Mr. Grohl’s tribute here:
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Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…
The deaths that are listed from Wikipedia are those of musicians or those who have ties to the music business from all over the world. These are our brothers and sisters. Say a prayer for their souls. They will be missed greatly.
11: Belle du Berry, 54, French singer (Paris Combo), cancer; Rahat Indori, 70, Indian lyricist (Khuddar, Mission Kashmir, Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities) and poet, COVID-19; Trini Lopez, 83, American singer (“If I Had a Hammer”, “Lemon Tree”) and actor (The Dirty Dozen), COVID-19.
10: Don Martin, New Zealand bassist (Mi-Sex), cancer; Joe Segal, 94, American jazz promoter and club owner.
9: Alauddin Ali, 67, Bangladeshi composer (Golapi Ekhon Traine, Sundori, Koshai), lung complications; Waldemar Bastos, 66, Angolan musician, cancer; Martin Birch, 71, British music producer and engineer (Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Iron Maiden).
8: Salome Bey, 86, American-born Canadian singer; Anatoliy Duda, 73, Ukrainian opera singer, People’s Artist of Ukraine (1999); Erich Gruenberg, 95, Austrian-born British violinist and teacher.
7: Alain Delorme, 70, French singer; Paul Dokter, 59, Dutch singer and guitarist (The Serenes); Mark Wirtz, 76, French musician and record producer (A Teenage Opera), Pick’s disease.
6: Wayne Fontana, 74, English singer (“The Game of Love”), cancer; Vern Rumsey, 47, American bassist (Unwound, Fitz of Depression, Household Gods) and recording engineer.
5: Agathonas Iakovidis, 65, Greek folk singer (“Alcohol Is Free”), heart attack; Jan Savage, 77, American guitarist (The Seeds).
4: Tony Costanza, 52, American metal drummer (Machine Head, Crowbar); Rajko Dujmic, 65, Croatian songwriter, composer and music producer (Novi fosili), traffic collision; FBG Duck, 26, American rapper, shot; Vangapandu Prasada Rao, 77, Indian poet and lyricist.
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