The 10 Diamonds Award – 16th Annual LA Music Awards
BIRTH NAME: TRINIDAD LOPEZ, III
BIRTH DATE: May 15, 1937
BIRTH PLACE: Dallas, Texas
PARENTS: Trini’s father, Trinidad Lopez II, was a singer, dancer, actor, and musician in Mexico. When he was 18, he married Petra Gonzalez and moved to Dallas, Texas, from Mexico to make a better life for themselves. Both of Trini’s parents are deceased.
SIBLINGS: 4 Sisters – 2 are deceased and the other 2 are homemakers. 1 Brother – Jesse, is also an entertainer.
EDUCATION: Attended grammar school and N. R. Crozier Tech High School in Dallas, Texas. Trini had to drop out of High School in his senior year because his father needed his financial support.
BACKGROUND: Trini was a poor boy from the barrio of Dallas, Texas. He remembers barely enough food for the family, the amount always determined by his parents’ ability to get whatever work they could. “They worked and struggled together just to survive,” he recalls. “They plowed fields together. My mother washed clothes in the neighborhood for extra income. You cannot imagine how hard it was.”
Trini has made “lemonade” from a life that began with nothing but lemons! When he was 11 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 bad about the spanking he had given his son, he bought him a $12.00 guitar he really could not afford. Trini says, “A spanking literally changed my life.”
Trini learned to play the guitar from his father. 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-alongs with his mother, father, brother, and sisters. He dropped out of high school to help his father support the family by singing around Dallas and the Texas “Southland.” Trini’s quality could not be denied. He went on to the El Cipango Club in Dallas, (a more affluent part of Dallas) and to other big clubs throughout the Southwest. He realized music would make him something special. Indeed it did, enabling him to get himself, and his family, out of the barrio.
When Trini was 18 years old, King Records in Cincinnati, Ohio, heard that Trini 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 devastated 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 Trini a recording contract and for three years, 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 Trini 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 on 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, Mr. Buddy Holly, a fellow Texan. Buddy Holly asked if Trini 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 Trini’s heritage. He would not allow the use of Trini’s 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 the fatal plane crash along with Richie 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!!!” In 1960, Trini arrived in H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D driving his old station wagon with “Trini Lopez and his Combo” painted on each side.
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 monies to his parents from his engagements in California. Out of desperation, Trini Lopez, the soloist was born.
Trini got a job at the Ye Little Club in Beverly Hills. He was hired with no group, just with his guitar. His engagement was to last two weeks and ended up lasting a year.
The first big break came at the popular night spot called P. J.’s. 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, Mr. Frank Sinatra. The great singer recognized a fellow stylist and immediately signed Trini to an exclusive eight-year contract with his own label – Reprise Records.
Reprise released his first album, “Trini Lopez at P. J.’s,” which became a No. 1 hit album. 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” hammered his name in GOLD with many hit albums and many hit singles … and in the hearts of millions of fans throughout the world! Following “Hammer” were many hits which he wrote, as well as songs like “I’m Coming Home Cindy,” “Michael,” “Lemon Tree,” Kansas City,” “America,” and, of course, “La Bamba.” The list goes on, but that’s another story!
Among Trini’s numerous successful albums are “Trini Lopez Live at P.J.’s “More Trini Lopez at P.J.’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’ Greatest Hits,” “Trini – Transformed by Time,” “The Best of Trini Lopez,” “Trini Lopez 25th Anniversary Album.” “Ramblin Man” and more recently, “Into the Future”. To date Trini has more than 65 albums to his credit, and there’s always another project just around the corner.
From there, it was standing room only audiences for Trini across the face of Europe and the world. He had earned about half a million dollars by then, and his weekly salary was twenty-five thousand dollars.
In mid-June of 1963, he made his New York debut with his own eleven-man orchestra that included his brother, Jesse. The tough Manhattan critics were unanimous in their praise of the young man from the Texas barrio. Trini Lopez had become a superstar in every sense of the word.
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 #12 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 unselfishly 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, Variety Clubs International, and many more.
Successful singers are often described as acting out their songs, 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 he went to movies. Frank Sinatra cast Trini’s in his first appearance; the movie, “Marriage on the Rocks,” which also 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 another star studded cast. Trini’s first starring role was in Antonio with his co-star, the infamous “J.R.,” Larry Hagman. Then he 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 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” ultimately sold five million copies (and still selling throughout the world) that he got it through his head he IS something special!!!
From the barrio to Beverly Hills! This lean Latin singing sensation took the world by storm beginning in the early ’60s and continues the tempest 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 the one of the worlds 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 has enjoyed a 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 the song “La Bamba.” This very old Latin folk song was first taught to Trini by his father, at the age of 11, who had been a performer himself in Mexico.
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 all the fans. It was great!
Other notable appearances have been an entire segment devoted to him on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, an internationally acclaimed TV show hosted by Robin Leach, who met and was mesmerized by Trini during a celebrity tennis tournament at Las Hadas in Mexico, where Trini again headlined the star-performance gala. In addition, Trini’s appearance on Fox Network’s Late Show in 1987 garnered accolades from around the world. Of course, “La Bamba” was performed on the popular late night show, and the audience responded in their usual concert style… moved by the magic!!! Trini has so enthralled the world with this famous tune, that he has been globally proclaimed as “Mr. La Bamba.”
The future for Trini will be active as usual, with touring around the world, a new album in the making, and hopefully, a movie, but now he is more selective and chooses his projects carefully. Since his move to Palm Springs, where he now resides year-round, the “laid-back” atmosphere has sort of rubbed-off on him, and it’s not necessary for Trini to do every project he’s offered. So, you’ll find him on the tennis courts or golf course almost any day, as it has become a new passion with him, and he has the trophies to prove it.
One of Trini’s latest efforts is a CD titled “Trini Lopez Dance Party,” on the BMG label out of Hamburg, Germany, and was release in Europe and South America in the summer of 1998. In February through March, he went to Europe on a promotional tour to promote the CD. By special request from BMG records, he returned to Germany in August through September, touring all of Germany – again, headlining the biggest television shows, making appearances on live radio shows, and record shops, and doing magazine and newspaper interviews. Trini also appeared at many resorts including several shows at the Maritim Hotel in Timmerdorfer Strand, outside Hamburg, Germany.
Trini signed a two (2) year deal with Sony International Records in 2000. His first CD was released in early 2000. He did 2 record promotional tours of Italy to promote his new CD “aylole-aylola.” “Cancion Azul” a single from that CD is on the charts in Italy.
On July 30, 2000, Trini had a very successful engagement at the Mohegan Sun Indian Casino in Connecticut.
On February 16-25, 2001, Trini did 16 very successful theatre concerts all over Florida. He received standing ovations at every show and sometime 2 and 3 ovations.
In July, 2001, Trini was honored by the group “Nosotros” in Beverly Hills, California. He was presented with the prestigious LIVING LEGEND AWARD.
April 12, 2002, was a very exciting day for Trini. He was inducted into the Las Vegas Casino Legends Hall of Fame at the Tropicana Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Trini performed his version of “America” as a tribute to 9-11 and then continued with “If I Had A Hammer.” He closed the show with “La Bamba.” He received 3 standing ovations and everyone there was very impressed with his voice, his charisma, and his wonderful ability to include the audience in every song. It was a super day and a real treat for all in attendance.
Trini has continued to record and in 2008 his 63rd album, “Ramblin Man”, was released. “El Immortal” saw a 2010 and in 2011 Trini release “Into The Future” his 65th album.
Other recent awards received by Trini Lopez
Honored by the Vistas Film Festival/Dallas, Texas 2002 – Retrospective of film career.
Inducted into International Latin Music Hall of Fame in New York City, April 2003
Proclamation: Trini Lopez Day in the city of Los Angeles, March 21, 2003
Man of the Year? ? Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian Award ? Theatre of Arts Institute of Los Angeles, 2004
International Recording Award – Palm Springs Walk of Stars 2006
Ten Diamond Award for selling 100 million albums – Los Angeles Music Awards 2006
Lifetime Entertainment Achievement Award? City of Ontario, California – 2006
Lifetime Entertainment Achievement Award – Board of Supervisors/San Bernardino ? 2007
Lifetime Entertainment Achievement Award – County of San Bernardino Supervisors-2007
Living Legend Award – California State Senate – 2007
Lifetime Entertainment Achievement Award – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger – 2007
Lifetime Entertainment Achievement Award – U.S. House of Representatives 2007
Latinos of Distinction – Living Legend Award – 2007
Congressional Recognition – U.S. House of Representatives’ Nevada’s Third Congressional District
Congressional Recognition – Nevada’s First Congressional District – 2008
Certificate of Recognition – Nevada Lieutenant Governor, Brian K. Krolicki – 2008
Certificate of Congratulations – Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons – 2008
Congratulatory letter for birthday, Las Vegas Star, and new CD release from President and Mrs. George Bush – 2008
Trini Lopez star dedication on Las Vegas Walk of Stars – May 15, 2008 (he also has a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars
Proclamation: Trini Lopez Day in Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada, May 15, 2008
Whatever Trini plans for his future, the fruit of his endeavor will be the same … fresh, tasty, and timelessly appealing to millions! It has been said that this dynamo “broke the Latin sound-barrier”… and that he did, but you never know what’s next for “Mr. La Bamba”. Perhaps, some of this magical life will be revealed in an expected “life story”… or maybe the mystery will just go on forever! But Trini … he is forever!!!