LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Trinidad Lopez also known as “Trini Lopez”, was a singer, musician, and actor, born on May 13, 1937 in Texas. Among the hits he was most recognized for was “If I Had a Hammer” and “Lemon Tree”. Unfortunately, this past August 11, Lopez died due to COVID-19 complications. He was 83 years old.
Today, many Las Vegas musicians say they’re thankful for his role in society, his unique musical styles and what he did for other Hispanic musicians.
“He was big in the sixties, what happened was he recorded a song that Peter, Paula and Mary did, it was an old song 1940 song called “If I Had A Hammer”, said Rick Chavez a musician who has lived in Las Vegas for 25 years and vividly remembers the legend, Trini Lopez.
Unlike many, Trini had a style one will always remember. “He had a unique way of streaming kind of like where he hit it almost like a mariachi would strum the guitar,” added Chavez.
“Trini did it in more of a rock-style and was kind of the beginning of was called folk rock,” explained Chavez.
Musician Rick Arroyo moved to Las Vegas in 1995 and says in the 60’s you could hear a lot of different styles of music but not a whole lot of transitions like that.
“That was a great combination that he did whether it was intentional or not,” said Arroyo.
Trini Lopez was mentored by other successful artists like Buddy Holly and Frank Sinatra and he became an international star who performed both in English and Spanish.
“The story goes, that when he was in L.A. he was playing at some club and Frank Sinatra happened to go in one night, and basically discovered him,” recounted Rick Chavez.
As Rick Arroyo recalls, one thing was for sure, Lopez was always proud to be a “Mexicano.”
“He was in the movie the dirty dozen so watching him on TV as well, which is kind a cool, like, oh yeah!”
Aside from that his acting career, he was recognized for his guitar skills, the Gibson Guitar Corporation commissioned a signature guitar piece called — The Trini Lopez.
“A couple years later they did another signature one, but it was more like a rock version of it,” said Chavez.
Today, many stars like Dave Grohl of the band Foo Fighters and Noel Gallagher of Oasis carry those collector items.
Lopez was inducted into the international Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2003 and his name was added to the Las Vegas Walk of Stars in 2008 and today many musicians like Chavez and Arroyo say he will always be a role model to follow.
“I love his singing voice, the way that he would project, the way that he would work the crowd over, a lot fun and it was infectious.
“He had such a positive vibe, so, I would like myself to be positive as well.”
Chavez says Trini Lopez paved the way for Latino artists such as Santana.
“They have a musical legacy that they leave behind and it’s up to us to keep that legacy going,” added Chavez.
And with his hammer and song … May you rest in peace Trini Lopez.