KERA Arts Story Search

Looking for events? Click here for the Go See DFW events calendar.

This Week in Texas Music History: Trini Lopez

by Stephen Becker 13 May 2011 2:02 PM

This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet a singer who managed to turn lemons into lemonade.


Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman meets a singer who managed to turn lemons into lemonade.

You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Friday on KXT and Saturday on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.

  • Click the player to listen to the podcast:

  • Expanded online version:

Trini Lopez was born May 15, 1937, in Dallas. His parents were immigrants from Mexico who washed clothes, plowed fields, and did whatever work was necessary to help lift their children out of poverty. As a teenager, Trini Lopez began playing guitar on the street corners of the Dallas barrio in which he grew up. He also befriended fellow Texan Buddy Holly. After Holly’s death in 1959, Lopez moved to California, where his career soon took off with such hits as “If I Had a Hammer” and “Lemon Tree.” Trini Lopez also appeared on popular television shows and alongside Frank Sinatra, Sean Connery and Charles Bronson in such major motion pictures as The Dirty Dozen and Marriage on the Rocks.

  • I recall going to a Catholic Youth Organization event over at Our Lady of Perpetual Help west of Love Field in the 60s and talking to someone who knew the family and of Trini. That was kind of a bookmark for me to follow him forward. There may have been an album after that. He seemed like a sweet guy but it almost seems like maybe he didn’t want to be a fading star, he just became private after not being a clear celebrity. I would be interested to know.