Trini Lopez is a multi-talented performer who has succeeded as a singer, guitarist, and actor. A huge top ten hit that he recorded in the 60's is still closely associated with his name.
He was named Trinidad Lopez III when he was born in Dallas in 1937. He learned the guitar at an early age and played at some clubs in the Dallas area by age 15. He formed a group and began to play at various locations in the Southwest. By the early 60's Trini had made his way to the West Coast.
He began performing at PJ's nightclub in Los Angeles. Don Costa spotted Lopez there and signed him to a recording contract with Frank Sinatra's Reprise record label. The songs that Trini played were snappy and peppy, the type that would be popular when played on a jukebox. Pete Seeger had written a song titled If I Had A Hammer, and the established folk group Peter, Paul and Mary had turned it into a top ten hit in late 1962. Under the direction of his producer, Costa, Trini recorded a more upbeat version of this great song and this version became an even bigger hit in late 1963, settling at number three. He was now playing to a nationwide audience.
Costa continued producing and Trini continued recording on Reprise. Three more top forty hits followed for Trini Lopez in the 60's: Kansas City, Lemon Tree, and I'm Comin' Home, Cindy. His songs were fun and suited the mood of the free-wheeling 60's quite well. Trini appeared on a number of television programs in the 60's and 70's, many of them variety shows such as The Andy Williams Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and The Mike Douglas Show. He also found time to record 14 albums that charted in the 60's, nine of them in the top ten. He was a likeable performer and the public enjoyed seeing him.
Trini appeared in other television shows and had one notable movie role, as Pedro Jiminez in the 1967 blockbuster film The Dirty Dozen. There were a number of big names who had roles in the motion picture, including Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, and John Cassavetes. Allegedly Trini's appearance was much more brief than had originally been scheduled, due to monetary demands made by his agent.
Over the years Trini Lopez has done a great deal of work for the less fortunate and has won his share of awards. His rollicking version of If I Had A Hammer from 1963 is still remembered as one of the great songs of the 60's.
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