PALM SPRINGS (CBSLA) — Singer-guitarist Trini Lopez, known for hits “If I Had A Hammer” and “Lemon Tree,” has died from complications of the novel coronavirus. He was 83.
Lopez, who also designed Gibson guitars and appeared in the 1967 war film, “The Dirty Dozen,” died Tuesday morning at a hospital in Palm Springs, his songwriting and business partner Joe Chavira told The Hollywood Reporter.
The son of Mexican immigrants, Lopez grew up in Dallas, Texas and formed his first band in the late 1950s at the age of 15. In 1958, his group, The Big Beats, signed with Columbia Records after recording with Buddy Holly producer Norman Petty in New Mexico. Lopez soon left the group to pursue a solo career, signing with King Records in 1959.
After his contact with King Records expired in 1962, Lopez landed a steady gig playing at PJ’s nightclub in Los Angeles where Frank Sinatra discovered him in 1963 and signed the singer to his Reprise Records label.
Lopez went on to record more than five dozen albums and was a frequent headliner in Las Vegas. His other popular songs include “Sally Was A Good Old Girl” and a traditional Mexican rendition of “La Bamba.”
In addition to his appearance in “The Dirty Dozen,” Lopez also appeared in “Marriage On The Rocks,” and had cameos in several other films.
Lopez had lived in the Palm Springs area since the 1960s. A documentary about his life, “My Name Is Lopez,” is reportedly near completion.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)