Singer and guitarist Trini López dies aged 83 from Coronavirus

(Image credit: Peter Bischoff / Getty)

The singer, guitarist and actor Trini López passed away on 11 August aged 83 from complications of COVID-19.

As well as finding fame performing hits If I Had a Hammer and Lemon Tree, López starred in classic 1967 film The Dirty Dozen and even had his own Gibson signature models that became prized by players including the Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl.

López was the son of Mexican immigrants and after relocating to Los Angles from Texas, he ended up being signed by Frank Sinatra for his Reprise Records label.

His debut live album, Trini López at PJ's was released in 1963 and included a version of the 1949 Pete Seeger and Lee Hays song If I Had a Hammer. It became a worldwide hit, reaching number one in 36 countries (it went to number 3 in the US).

As well as appearing live, López continued to record until 2011's In The Future, his 65th record. 

On August 10, Palm Springs Life reported that filmmakers Todd Hughes and P David Ebersole were working on a documentary about López’s life titled, My Name Is Lopez, is due to be released in 2021.

Following his rapid rise to fame with his 1963 debut, López worked with Gibson on his own signature guitar and he ended up with two semi-hollow models; the Trini Lopez Standard was based on Gibson's ES-335 and the Lopez Deluxe, influenced by the Gibson Barney Kessel model.

The guitars were only produced between 1964 until 1971 and are now highly-prized by collectors and some high profile players.

“Many younger players like my guitar," López told in 2011. "Maroon 5’s guitarist plays my guitar, The Edge plays my guitar, Paul McCartney’s guitarist plays my guitar, Dave Grohl, Lyndsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac played my guitar, Sting’s guitar player plays my guitar.”

“I guess they’re not only fans of me as an artist, but they love the guitar," López added. "I’m not Dave Grohl’s biggest fan of course [laughs] but I’m definitely a fan. I’m just glad that people remember me.”

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.