Trini Lopez biography

Trinidad Lopez III, 15 May 1937, Dallas, Texas, USA. Trini Lopez took folk songs and rocked them up into Latin rhythms, recording 14 chart albums and 13 chart singles between 1963 and 1968. Propelled by a strong R&B-influenced backbeat (usually provided by bass player Dave Shriver and drummer Gene Riggio) and his own incessantly rhythmic guitar, Lopez was at his best when playing live. A number of his nightclub performances were recorded and released as albums. Lopez listened to R&B music while growing up, and formed his first band in Wichita Falls, Texas, at the age of 15. At the recommendation of Buddy Holly, Lopez went to the producer Norman Petty in Clovis, New Mexico, but Lopez did not record with him as Petty wanted to record only instrumental music. In 1958, however, Petty did secure Lopez and his group the Big Beats a contract with Columbia Records, which released the single "Clark's Expedition"/"Big Boy", ironically, an instrumental. Lopez 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 couple of weeks of auditions in Los Angeles that idea did not bear fruit and Lopez formed his own group.

He landed a steady engagement at the nightclub PJ's, where his audience soon grew. He was heard there by Frank Sinatra, who had started his own label, Reprise Records, and who subsequently signed Lopez. He was placed with arranger/producer Don Costa, who wisely chose to record Lopez in concert at the club. His first album, Trini Lopez At PJ's, rose to number 2 in the summer of 1963 and stayed in the US charts for nearly two years. The first single from the album, an uptempo party-like version of Pete Seeger's "If I Had A Hammer", reached number 3 (number 4 in the UK), out-performing Peter, Paul And Mary's more sedate rendering a year earlier. Lopez's subsequent recordings for Reprise displayed a musical eclecticism - he recorded a folk album, an R&B album, two Latin albums, country, in foreign languages (Spanish and German) and even Broadway show tunes, all in his infectiously simple singalong style. Only one other Top 20 single resulted, "Lemon Tree" in 1965, and he appeared in a number of films, including The Dirty Dozen and Marriage On The Rocks, but by the end of the 60s Lopez had largely disappeared from public view. He recorded sporadically in the 70s, including Viva and a number of singles for Capitol Records in 1971-72, and Transformed By Time for Roulette Records in 1978, and although he continued to sing in Las Vegas during the 80s little has been heard from Lopez since his heyday. There are numerous budget-label album releases of his music available, and several anthologies on European labels.