Singer Trini Lopez of “I Had a Hammer” dies of Covid-19 at 83
Singer and actor Trini Lopez died of Covid-19 at the age of 83. He was the voice of the classics “If I Had a Hammer” and “Lemmon Tree” and also acted on the movie The Dirty Dozen (1967). The information was released by director P. David Ebersole, who just shot a documentary about the Lopez. He died of complications from the new coronavirus in a hospital in California, United States.
The son of Mexican parents, he was born in Dallas, and began his singing career thanks to Sinatra, who hired him through his label, Reprise Records. The big hit came with the song “If I had a hammer”, by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays that spent three weeks on the third place on the “Billboard” list in 1963.
Lopez has four sisters (two are deceased) and a brother, Jesse, who is also a singer. He grew up on Ashland Street in the Little Mexico neighborhood of Dallas and attended grammar school and N. R. Crozier Tech High School. He had to drop out of high school in his senior year. Because he needed to earn money to help support the family.
He formed his first band in Wichita Falls, Texas, at the age of 15. Around 1955/56 Trini Lopez and his band worked at The Vegas Club, a nightclub owned by Jack Ruby. The nightclub owner who assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald, avenging Oswald’s assassination of JFK . In 1957, at the recommendation of Buddy Holly’s father, Trini and his group “The Big Beats” went to producer Norman Petty in Clovis, New Mexico.
Petty secured a contract for them with Columbia Records, which released the single “Clark’s Expedition”/”Big Boy”, both instrumental. Lopez left the group and made his first solo recording, his own composition “The Right To Rock”, for the Dallas-based Volk Records. Then signed with King Records in 1959, recording more than a dozen singles for that label, none of which charted.