LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Trinidad Lopez, also known as “Trini Lopez,” was a singer, musician and actor. He was best known for his smash hits “If I Had a Hammer” and “Lemon Tree”.
Unfortunately, Lopez died of COVID-19 complications just last month. He was 83 years old.
On Thursday, many Las Vegas musicians told 8 News Now they are thankful for his role in society, his unique musical styles and what he did for other Hispanic musicians.
Rick Chavez is a musician who has lived in Las Vegas for 25 years. He vividly remembers the legend, Trini Lopez.
“He was big in the 60’s. What happened was he recorded a song that Peter, Paul and Mary did it was an old 1940 song it was called if ‘I had a hammer,’” Chavez said.
Unlike many, Trini had a style one will always remember.
“He had a unique way of strumming, kind of like were he hit it almost like a mariachi would strum the guitar,” Chavez said. “Trini did it in more of a rock-style and that was kind of the beginning it was called folk rock.”
Musician Rick Arroyo moved to Las Vegas in 1995 and says in the 60’s you would 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,” Arroyo said.
Mentored by Buddy Holly and Frank Sinatra, Lopez became an international star — one who would perform both in English and Spanish.
“The story goes, 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,” Chavez said.
One thing’s 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 of cool,” Arroyo said.
Aside from that, the Gibson Guitar Corporation commissioned a signature piece the “Trini Lopez Guitar.”
“A couple years later they did another signature one but it was more like a rock version of it,” Chavez said.
Today, many stars like Dave Grohl of 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 the Las Vegas Walk of Stars in 2008. 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 is fun and is infectious,” Arroyo said.
“He had such a positive vibe so I would like myself to be positive as well,” Chavez said.
Chavez says Trini Lopez paved the way for Latino Americans such as Santana.
“They have a musical legacy that they leave behind and its up to us to keep that legacy going,” Arroyo added.
Filmmaker P. David Ebersole finished shooting a documentary on Lopez, along with Todd Hughes. The film is called “My Name is Lopez” and is expected to be released in 2021.
Trini’s Las Vegas star can be found in front of the Flamingo Hotel and Casino.