Trini Lopez, the pop singer and guitarist who also acted in Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen, has died of complications from COVID-19.
Palm Springs Life magazine first reported his death; he was a longtime resident of the desert enclave.
Born Trinidad Lopez III in Dallas, Texas, his parents were both from Mexico. Lopez started playing in bands at 15 and in 1958, his group the Big Beats signed with Columbia Records after recording with Buddy Holly producer Norman Petty.
Lopez went solo shortly afterward and signed with King Records, for whom he released a series of unsuccessful singles before leaving the label in 1962.
He soon scored a residency at the Los Angeles nightclub PJ’s, where Frank Sinatra saw his show and signed him to his Reprise Records in 1963.
That year, his debut album, Trini Lopez At PJ’s, included a cover of If I Had A Hammer that was a global smash, topping the charts in multiple countries and reaching No. 3 in the US.
Another live album followed, along with more hits over the next several years, including Lemon Tree, I’m Comin’ Home, Cindy, Sally Was A Good Old Girl, Michael, Gonna Get Along Without Ya’ Now and The Bramble Bush.
He starred in the 1967 fictional World War II film The Dirty Dozen alongside such stars as Charles Bronson, Ernest Borgnine, John Cassavetes, Lee Marvin, Donald Sutherland and Telly Savalas, but was more recognisable than many of them at the time because of his successful musical career.
Lopez also appeared on television in Adam-12 and The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries.
During the height of his popularity in the mid-1960s, he designed two guitars for the Gibson Guitar company which are collector’s items.
While his chart successes and acting roles tailed off after the 1960s, he continued to release albums and perform regularly — particularly in Las Vegas and his adopted home of Palm Springs.
He was awarded a star on Palm Springs’ Walk of Stars in 1993 and on Las Vegas’ Walk of Stars in 2008.
Information on survivors was not immediately available.