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Trini López was born 86 years ago today
Photo by Cheryl Diaz Meyer
Trini López was born 86 years ago today.
A singer, guitarist and actor, López was born in Dallas on Ashland Street in the Little Mexico neighborhood. He formed his first band in Wichita Falls, Texas, at the age of 15.
In 1958, at the recommendation of Buddy Holly, Trini and his group "The Big Beats," went to producer Norman Petty in Clovis, New Mexico. Petty secured them to a contract with Columbia Records, which released the single "Clark's Expedition"/"Big Boy," both instrumental.
López left the group and made his first solo recording, his own composition, "The Right To Rock," for the Dallas-based Volk Records. He then signed with King Records in 1959, recording more than a dozen singles for that label.
In late 1962, after the King contract expired, López 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 go through.
López then 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. He subsequently signed López. 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 #1 in 36 countries (#3 in the United States) and was a radio favorite for many years and sold over a million copies.
López 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.
Lopez died on August 11, 2020, at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs. He was 83, and suffered from complications from COVID-19.