Trini Lopez (born Trinidad López III, 15 May 1937)
1. If I had a Hammer/ Reprise 20,198/ August 1963/ #3
2. Kansas City/ Reprise20,236/ December 1963/ #23
3. Lemon Tree/ Reprise 0336/ February 1965/ #20
4. I’m Comin’ Home Cindy/ Reprise 0455/ #39
Lopez made his name on the club circuit of the South-western United States before being ‘discovered’ in 1962 playing at the club PJ’s in Hollywood, California, by record producer Don Costa. Costa was taken with Lopez’s Latinized versions of contemporary hits and signed him up to Frank Sinatra’s record label, Reprise Records.
His debut album, Trini Lopez Live at PJ’s, was released in 1963. The album included a version of If I Had A Hammer, which reached number one in 36 countries (#3 in the United States) and was a radio favourite for many years. He also performed his own version of the traditional Mexican song La Bamba on the album; his recording of the tune was later re-issued as a single in 1966.
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 semi-hollow 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 amongst collectors. Some owners of the guitar include Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Noel Gallagher of Oasis.
He scored 13 chart singles through 1968, including “Lemon Tree” (1965), “I’m Comin’ Home, Cindy” (1966) and “Sally Was a Good Old Girl” (1968). On the adult contemporary chart, he ranked up 15 hits, including the Top 10 singles “Michael” (1964), “Gonna Get Along Without Ya’ Now” (1967) and “The Bramble Bush” (1967). Beyond his success on record, he became one of the country’s top nightclub performers of that era, regularly headlining in Las Vegas, Nevada.
During the 1960s and 1970s Lopez moved into acting, though his film career was not as successful as his music. His first film role was in Marriage on the Rocks (1965), in which he made a cameo appearance in a nightclub scene; Lopez’s soundtrack song, “Sinner Man”, became a hit single (#54 pop/#12 adult contemporary).
He was one of The Dirty Dozen (1967) and starred in Antonio (1973). He made two appearances (playing different characters) on the television program, Adam 12.
He continued his musical career with extensive tours of Europe and Latin America during this period; an attempt to break out by releasing a disco album in 1978 proved a flop.
Since then, Lopez has done charitable work and received honors such as being inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2003.
He was still recording and appearing live in the early 2000s. Recently he took part in a benefit concert to raise money for the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.