Trini Lopez

Trini Lopez (born Trinidad López III, 15 May 1937) is an American (Chicano) singer, guitarist and actor.



Lopez was born in Dallas, Texas, on Ashland Street in the Little Mexico neighborhood. He began his entertainment career in Dallas playing at the Vegas Club, a nightclub owned by Jack Ruby.[1] He made his name on the club circuit of the Southwestern 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 (No. 3 in the United States) and was a radio favorite for many years. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.[2] 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,[3] a rock and roll model based on the Gibson ES-335 semi-hollow body, and the Lopez Deluxe,[4] 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 thirteen 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 (No. 54 pop/No. 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. Lopez produced a single promoting the Coca-Cola soft drink Fresca in 1967.

Since then, Lopez has done charitable work and received honors such as being inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2002, Lopez teamed with Grammy Award-Winning artist-producer Art Greenhaw for a critically-acclaimed return to Trini's Texas-style roots and the resulting album LEGACY: MY TEXAS ROOTS. The album used the "Texas Roots Combo" including Trini himself, Greenhaw and Lopez' brother, Jesse. Said reviewer Steve Leggett of All Music Guide, "The album has an easygoing feel very similar to Lopez' classic live sets from the 1960s, only it rocks a good deal harder."

He was still recording and appearing live in the 2000s. He took part in a benefit concert to raise money for the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

Hit singles

Year Single Chart positions
1963 "If I Had a Hammer" 3 4 12
"Kansas City" 23 13 35
1964 "Sinner Not a Saint" 103
"Jailer, Bring Me Water" 94
"What Have I Got of My Own" 43
"Michael" 42 7
1965 "Lemon Tree" 20 2
"Sad Tomorrows" 94 22
"Are You Sincere" 85 25
"Sinner Man" 54 12
1966 "Made In Paris" 113 36
"I'm Comin' Home, Cindy" 39 2 28
"La Bamba Pt. 1" 86 9
1967 "Gonna Get Along Without Ya' Now" 93 6 41
"Up To Now" 123
"The Bramble Bush" 4
"Together" 30
1968 "Sally Was a Good Old Girl" 99 30
"Mental Journey" 18
"Malaguena Salerosa" 24
1969 "Come a Little Bit Closer" 121
"Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'" 133


  • 1963: Live at PJ's
  • 1963 More Trini Lopez Live at PJ's
  • 1964 On the Move
  • 1964 Live at Basin St. East
  • 1964 The Latin Album
  • 1965 The Folk Album
  • 1965 The Love Album
  • 1965 The Rhythm and Blues Album
  • 1965 The Sing Along World of Trini Lopez
  • 1965 Trini Lopez Live in South Africa
  • 1966 Trini
  • 1966 The Second Latin Album
  • 1967 In London
  • 1967 Now!
  • 1968 It's a Great Life
  • 1968 Welcome to Trini Country
  • 1969 The Whole Enchilada
  • 1969 The Trini Lopez Show
  • 1970 Viva
  • 1971 Trini Lopez Live in Tokyo
  • 1977 Y Su Alma Latina
  • 1978 Transformed By Time
  • 1991 The 25th Anniversary Album
  • 1998 Dance Party
  • 2000 Aylole-Aylola
  • 2001 Dance the Night Away
  • 2002 Legacy: My Texas Roots
  • 2005 Romantic and Sexy Guitars
  • 2008 Ramblin' Man

(excluding compilations and re-recordings)

In popular culture

  • Live at PJ's album was featured in the November 1966 Playboy centerfold, Playmate Lisa Baker is using it for support.


  2. Murrells, Joseph (1978). (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 162. . 
  3. . Vintage Guitars. Retrieved 4 December 2010. 
  4. . Vintage Guitars. Retrieved 4 December 2010.