Mexican-American singer and actor Trini Lopez has died at the age of 83 after contracting Kovid-19 at a hospital in Rancho Mirage, California.
Along with starring as a legendary gang in the 1967 World War II classic The Dirty Dozen, Lopez scored a translatonic hit with If Hammer and produced 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 younger Lopez formed his first band before the age of 15, among many record contracts. After Holi’s death, he also gave an unsuccessful audition for Buddy Holly’s band The Cricket.
But he earned it at PJ’s nightclub Residency in Los Angeles, where he was heard by Frank Sinatra, who signed him to his label Repres. His debut album was recorded live at PJ in 1963, with songs ranging from American folk, rock’n’roll and traditional Mexican song-music to Ray Charles’s Whatsad I Song, Woody Guthrie’s This Land. And a husky La Bamba. His version of Peter, Paul and Mary’s If I Hammer superseded the original’s success, peaking at number 3 in the US, not 4 in the UK, and number 1 in 36 countries; The album sold over 1m copies.
Lopez went on to hit American hits with Kansas City and Lemon Tree, while I’m Comin ‘Home Cindy was a minor UK hit in 1966.
At the peak of his popularity he was asked by guitar maker Gibson to design two models, Trini Lopez Standard and Lopez Deluxe, which are owned by Dave Grohl and Noel Gallagher.
In the mid-60s he was releasing five albums a year, although it slowed down in the late 70s. When they continued performing, they released very little music until 2000, when they began recording again and released another six albums.
He also starred in a self-titled TV variety show in 1969, which began a successful acting career. His most famous role was in 1967 as Pedro Jimenez in The Dirty Dozen, starring Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson and others.
He was unmarried and had no children.