Que Descansa En Paz Singer/Actor Trini Lopez: Victim of Trump’s Pandemic

Written by on August 20, 2020

Story by Chuck Tackett

Que Descansa En Paz Singer/Actor Trini Lopez: Victim of Trump’s Pandemic

“I knew Sinatra for 38 years. He was like my father. Frank Sinatra was my ‘dad.’ He treated me like his son. He gave me the best advice about singing, about this and that… He was a very sensitive man, very astute, one of the sharpest men that I ever met in my life.”

Trini Lopez

” I’ve always wanted to do acting. The biggest thing I ever did was ‘The Dirty Dozen.’ My contract was for 3 months, but the picture was taking longer than they thought it would. I stayed for 7 months and Frank Sinatra told me to leave. He said the public is very fickle and they’ll forget about you.”

Trini Lopez

Back in the early 1960s when I was between the ages of 8 and 10 years old, I lived in a bubble. My only interests were music, dancing, and movies, especially horror flicks.

When I started watching the TV dance show, “American Bandstand,” I was amused, because I thought the music was odd, as well as the dancing those teenagers were doing. My focus was usually on one of the first, and sometimes only, Black couple on the show: Famous Hook and June Strode. I could tell how much they struggled dancing to the music that was playing. I could see on their faces how they were pretending in front of the camera that the songs playing were giving them life. R&B and Soul music was not played on the show on a regular basis. When it was, even the White kids were dancing a little better.

On one episode of American Bandstand, a man was a guest performer on the show. When he came to the stage after host Dick Clark introduced him, I recalled to myself I have seen him before. When he started to sing, I caught myself shaking my booty and tapping my toe. The performer made me take notice. His name was Trini Lopez.

As Mr. Lopez started to perform, I remembered I had heard him sing before. There was this boring-ass folk song titled, “If I Had A Hammer,” by this group called Peter, Paul and Mary. (yawn) But when Mr. Lopez sang it, he delivered it in a totally different way, which caught my attention. I liked the way he did it.

During that time period, I went to a Black Catholic church and grade school. I didn’t go to school with White & Latinx folks, until I went to a Catholic high school. All I knew was from television, was what I saw, which were mostly White people with a sprinkling of Black people here and there. I knew nothing about Latinx people, their music, the culture, and the food. I wasn’t that familiar with white people as well. Now that you understand my background as a child, you can understand my fascination with Mr. Lopez and the style of music he played.

Mr. Lopez was born on May 13, 1937, in Dallas, Texas. He dropped out of high school as a Senior to help financially support his family.

At 15 years old, Trini formed his first band. Around 1955, Trini and his bandmates worked at The Vegas Club, a night club owned by the infamous Jack Ruby, who ended up assassinating Lee Harvey Oswald, avenging him for assassinating President John F. Kennedy.

At the recommendation of Buddy Holly’s father, Trini and his band moved to Clovis, New Mexico, to secure a music contract. Things didn’t quite work out, and Trini was forced to leave the band and pursue a solo career.

Moving to Los Angeles to work with another band, that idea also didn’t work out. Mr. Lopez landed a steady gig at PJ’s nightclub, where his listening audience grew quickly. Trini was performing one night where singer/actor Frank Sinatra was seated in the audience. Sinatra had recently started his own record label: Enterprise Records. He signed up Trini and mentored him.

Mr. Lopez’s singing career quickly took off. Unfortunately, his luck wasn’t the same when it came to his desire to cross over to movies. His biggest movie of his very short big-screen career was 1967’s “The Dirty Dozen”, a World War 2 film where a rebellious Army Major enlists the help of 12 convicted murderers, to train and lead them in a mission to assassinate Several Garman officers. Trini starred as a convicted murderer, Pedro Jimenez.

After his failed attempt on the big screen, Mr. Lopez returned to his first love: singing. He enjoyed great success in his singing career, performing on several popular television variety music shows, television series, specials, and charity benefit causes, in the USA, and abroad. The biggest one was the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Mr. Lopez continued to perform until the end of his life.

On Tuesday, August 11, 2020, Mr. Lopez passed away from complications caused by Trump’s virus.

Mr. Lopez remained a bachelor with no children. Trini kept his personal life private. There is no record of him revealing his sexual preference. Thank you so much, Trini Lopez, for being one of the pioneers helping to pave the way, and opening the doors for modern-day Latinx singers in the USA.

Chuck’s Chat operates under an open authority. Opinions and comments are always welcome. Send them to soultraindancing@yahoo.com

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