Trini Lopez, the Mexican-American singer and one of The Dirty Dozen, died on Tuesday at 83 from coronavirus complications.

Lopez was an accomplished guitarist who formed his first band when he was 15. He was then spotted by Buddy Holly, who would become one of Lopez’s mentors. After Holly mentioned Lopez to his producer, Norman Petty, Lopez moved west and started playing regularly at a nightclub in West Hollywood. He then met Frank Sinatra, another one of his mentors, who signed him to his record label and encouraged Lopez to begin acting.

Lopez released his debut live album, Trini Lopez At PJ’s, in 1963. It featured his version of Pete Seeger’s “If I Had A Hammer” which became the number three song in the U.S. and number four in the UK. It sold over a million copies.

In 1966, Lopez began his acting career when he was cast in The Dirty Dozen, a movie about rogue soldiers being sent on a suicide mission during World War Two.


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During his career, Lopez recorded over 60 albums and headlined regularly in Las Vegas. In 2003, he was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame and in 2008 he was honored on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars.

He also designed two instruments for the Gibson Guitar Corporation.

Many people have paid their respects to Lopez on social media. Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters wrote that Lopez left “a beautiful music legacy” and called his own Trini Lopez guitar his “most prized possession.” Grohl went on to say the guitar had been “the sound of the Foo Fighters from day one.”

Singer Pat Boone wrote about Lopez on Facebook, remembering him as “a great guy and wonderful friend. We both knew we were blessed to make a good living doing what we loved – making others happy!”

Joe Chavira, Lopez’s business partner and fellow musician, said the pair had just finished recording a song to raise money for food banks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chavira said, “And here he is dying of something he was trying to fight.”

A documentary about Lopez’s life, My Name is Lopez, is currently underway.

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