Trini was a poor boy from the barrio of Dallas, Texas. He remembers they had barely enough food for the family, the amount was always determined by his parent’s ability to get whatever work they could. They worked and struggled together just to survive. They plowed fields together and his mother washed clothes in the neighborhood for extra income. You can’t imagine how hard it was for the family.
Trini has made lemonade from a life that began with nothing but lemons! When he was eleven years old, his father spanked him for hanging around with the wrong kind of kids. What a wise man he was to lead his talented son from a life of street gangs to a life of sophisticated graciousness. Trinidad Lopez Sr., felt so badly about the spanking he had given his son, he bought him a $12.00 guitar he really couldn’t afford. Trini says “A spanking literally changed my life.”
Trini learned to play the guitar from his father, and then he played for money on the street corners. He eventually went on to form his own group. It was then that the world saw the beginnings of the singing, acting, and very talented Trini Lopez. Trini’s first songs were Mexican sing-along.
When Trini was 18 years old, King Records in Cincinnati, Ohio, heard that he had written and recorded a single in Dallas on a little label called Volk Records. The name of the song was “The Right to Rock”. From the beginning, the record producer wanted Trini to change his name to anything but Lopez. Trini was and is proud of his heritage and was devasted by the situation. Trini refused and was heading out the door when the record producer by the situation. Trini refused and was heading out the door when the record producer stopped him and said “Okay, Okay, you can keep your name.” The single made a little noise in Dallas, enough noise for King Records to be impressed with Trini’s voice and style. King Records offered him a three year recording contract. They flew Trini from Dallas to Cincinnati to record for two weeks at a time. Unfortunately, the only songs they were giving Trini to record were old country songs they had in their catalog by country artists such as Cowboy Copus. Once in a while on some recording sessions, Trini would slip in some of his own compositions that were more up to date. The only song to hit the charts nationally on the King label for Trini was a song he covered by the Skyliners called “Since I Don’t Have You.”. The song hit the Top 10 nationwide, and Trini was elated to see his name in Cashbox and Billboard. The only other song on King Records Trini had that was a No. 1 hit in his hometown of Dallas was a song called “Don’t Let Your Sweet Love Die”.
Trini befriended the famous recording artist Buddy Holly, a fellow Texan. Buddy asked if he would like to meet his record producer in Clovis, New Mexico. Trini was elated and packed his station wagon with his group and drove to Clovis with the hopes of recording. Buddy Holly’s record producer turned out to be prejudiced because of his heritage. He would not allow the use of Trini’s real name on the record label. Trini’s group agreed with the conspiracy against Trini’s Latin name and they agreed not to allow Trini to sing on the record. The record was released as an instrumental under the name “The Big Beats”. When Trini returned to Dallas, he disbanded the group and assembled a new band.
While in Clovis, Trini befriended not only Buddy Holly but also his band, The Crickets. As fate would have it, two months later, Buddy Holly was killed in a fatal plane crash along with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. A couple of months after the plane crash, Trini received a phone call from The Crickets asking him to come to Hollywood to be their lead singer. Trini was ecstatic, and instead of flying he used the money sent by The Crickets to drive his station wagon to Los Angeles. All through the two and half day trip, Trini kept saying to himself Hollywood or bust, Hollywood or bust!!! Trini arrived in H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D.
The agreement Trini had with The Crickets did not materialize because The Crickets were enjoying their royalties and record sales from Buddy Holly’s past hit recordings and were in no hurry to perform.
The $200 Trini left Dallas with was gone. He had promised he would be sending money to his parents from his engagements in California. Out of desperation, Trini Lopez, the star was born.
Trini got a job at the Ye Little Club in Beverly Hills. He was hired with no group, just Trini and his guitar. His engagement was to last only two weeks and ended up lasting a year.
The first big break came at the popular night spot called PJ’s in Hollywood. Here he was spotted by the world famous record producer, the late Don Costa, who then brought Trini to the attention of his longtime idol, the Great Frank Sinatra. Mr. Sinatra a fellow stylist immediately asked Don Costa to signed Trini to an exclusive eight year contract on Sinatra’s Reprise Records.
Reprise released his first album “Trini Lopez at PJ’s” which became a No. 1 hit worldwide. Out of that album, a single “If I Had a Hammer” became a No. 1 hit in thirty eight countries.
“If I Had a Hammer” hit in the hearts of millions of fans throughout the world! Following “If I Had a Hammer” were many hits including hits which he wrote like “I’m Coming Home Cindy”, as well as songs like “Lemon Tree”, “Kansas City”, “America” and of course “La Bamba” and the list goes on.
In mid-June of 1963, Trini made his New York debut at Basin Street East with his own eleven-man orchestra that included his brother, Jesse. The Lower Manhattan critics were unanimous in their praise of the young man from the Texas barrio.
Among Trini’s numerous successful albums are “Trini Lopez Live at PJ’s”, “More Trini Lopez at PJ’s by Popular Demand”, “The Latin Album”, The Second Latin Album”, “The Love Album”, “It’s a Great Life”, Trini Lopez in London”, Trini Lopez Now”, “Trini Lopez Live at Basin Street East”, “Trini Lopez in Japan”, “Trini Lopez in South Africa”. Trini released his 65rd album in May 2011 titled “Into The Future” and there is always another project just around the corner.
Trini was honored on the floor of Congress in Washington D.C. by Congressman Thomas Rees of California in recognition of his work on behalf of International relations, and Trini has the honor of sharing prestigious company with Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra in being named Goodwill Ambassador for the United States. He was also cited by the LULAC Council of Laredo, Texas as “Mr. International.”
Trini is a firm believer in the saying “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice” and he does practice what he believes by unselfish giving of his time and talent to many worthwhile causes such as The March of Dimes, Cancer Research Foundation, Diabetes Foundation, Boy Scouts of America, Food for the Poor, the military and the homeless.
Successful singers are often described as acting out their song so it is only natural that Trini would be discovered as an equally talented actor.
He began by playing a priest and a parole officer on two of Jack Webb’s Adam 12 TV shows for Universal, which was aired on the NBC network. From there Trini went to movies. Trini’s first appearance in a movie was “Marriage on the Rocks” starring Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. His second movie appearance was in “A Poppy is Also a Flower” starring Sean Connery, Marcello Mastriani and a star-studded cast. Following this was the classic “The Dirty Dozen” starring Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson and an international cast. Trini first starring role was in a picture titled “Antonio” with his co-star, the infamous “JR”, Larry Hagman. Next Trini became an army G.I. for a TV Movie of the Week called “The Reluctant Heroes” for Aaron Spelling Productions.
Singer, song writer, Goodwill Ambassador, charitable volunteer, humanitarian, actor, and nightclub performer throughout the world including spots like the Waldorf Astoria and the Copa Cabana in New York City as well as all the popular Las Vegas major hotels and many, many more. Trini never forgets what he really is, “I’m a public servant.”
It wasn’t until “If I Had a Hammer” sold five million copies (and still selling throughout the world) that Trini got it through his head that he WAS SOMETHING SPECIAL!!
From the barrio to Beverly Hills! This lean Latin singing sensation took the world by storm beginning in the early ‘60’s and continues to be a presence even today!!! Trini elicits standing ovations everywhere he performs and his smooth style knows no age barrier.
Whether it’s the high seas…such as his history making star-billing performances on one of the world’s largest ocean liners, the beautiful Norway in 1987, during her last voyage before complete refurbishing in Europe and celebrating her 10th anniversary as a Norwegian-owned vessel. The engagement proved so successful that Trini was invited back to begin the new season.
Trini enjoyed resurgence in popularity since the release of the major motion picture, “La Bamba”. One of Trini’s most successful international hits of all time was “La Bamba.” When Trini was eleven years of old, “La Bamba” a very old Latin folk song was first taught to Trini by his father, who had been a performer himself in Mexico. Trini has performed “La Bamba” around the world and has so enthralled the world with this famous tune, that he has been globally proclaimed as “Mr. La Bamba.”
In June and July of 2013, Trini performed with the world famous Andre Rieu and his 70 piece classical symphonic orchestra in Maastricht, The Netherlands. There were over 12,000 at each show and Trini had them dancing in the streets, in the aisles, and in front of the stage. After each show fans crowded around Trini wanting to touch him, get his autograph and wanting an autograph. Trini felt he was back in the 60’s and enjoyed every concert and the fans.