Mexican-American singer and actor Trini Lopez died at the age of 83 after signing with Covid-19, at a hospital in Rancho Mirage, California.
Along with starring in the 1967 classic about World War II, The Dirty Dozen as one of the gangs of the same name, Lopez scored a transatlantic hit with If I. Had a Hammer and designed a pair of sought-after guitar models for Gibson.
Trinidad Lopez III was born in Dallas, Texas, to Mexican parents. His father, Trinidad Lopez II, was also an actor and singer, and the young Lopez formed his first band at the age of 15 before transitioning between different recording contracts over a number of years. He also had a failed audition for Buddy Holly’s Cricket band after Holly’s death.
But he did get a residency in a nightclub at PJ’s in Los Angeles, where he was heard by Frank Sinatra, who signed him with Reprise. His debut album was recorded live at PJ’s in 1963, including a variety of songs from American folk, rock’n’roll and traditional Mexican songs, including covers of What ‘d I Say by Ray Charles, This Land Is Your Land by Woody Guthrie and a raucous La Bamba. His versions of Peter, Paul and Mary’s If I Had a Hammer outstripped the original’s success, reaching 3rd in the US, 4th in the UK and No. 1 in 36 countries; The album has sold over 1 million copies.
Lopez added hits in the United States with Kansas City and Lemon Tree, while I’m Comin ‘Home Cindy was a small UK hit in 1966.
At the height of his popularity, he was asked by guitar maker Gibson to design two models, Trini Lopez Standard and Lopez Deluxe, whose owners included Dave Grohl and Noel Gallagher.
In the mid-60s, he released up to 5 albums a year, although that slowed down in the late 70’s. While continuing to perform, he released very little music until 2000, when he He started recording again and released six more albums.
He also starred in a TV variety show of the same name in 1969, starting his acting career accordingly. His most famous role was as Pedro Jimenez in 1967’s The Dirty Dozen, starring alongside Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson and more.
He is not married and has no children.