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The Making of a Superstar

Growing up in the Latin “barrios” of Dallas, Texas, Gibson signature artist Trinidad “Trini” Lopez, III, learned quickly how to be a survivor. With four brothers, a sister, and a mother and father that did whatever it took to bring food to the table, Lopez’ early childhood struggles proved vital in preparing him for life as the original Latin pop superstar, and eventually one of the premier guitar players and songwriters of the early 1960s. As an adolescent in the early 1950s, Lopez was your typical teenager, hanging out with friends, occasionally getting into trouble and wanting to be everywhere but the classroom his parents insisted he stay in. What’s more, the elder Lopez—a musician himself— didn’t approve of his son’s circle of friends, and was always warning him to stay away from his associates. Legend has it that Lopez, Sr. grew so weary of his son’s behavior that one day he administered a severe beating in the hope of changing his son’s ways. Afterwards, he felt so bad he went out and purchased his son a black Gibson acoustic guitar. He taught him a few chords and the rest, you can say, is history!

Gibson Honors A Legend … Again

His wide-ranging popularity led Gibson in 1964 to ask his assistance in the production of two signature guitars: The Trini Lopez Standard, a model based on Gibson’s famous ES-335, and the Trini Lopez Deluxe, a variation of the Gibson guitar designed for Barney Kessel. Gibson produced both Lopez models from 1964 to 1971. This new reissue from the master craftsmen at Gibson Memphis features all of the classic appointments that gave the original “Standard” model its unique look and sound, including a plain laminated maple top, with matching maple back and rim, finished in an antiqued faded red hue that delivers the desired vintage look so commonly sought in today’s guitars. Distinct diamond-shaped f-holes adorn the guitar’s semi-hollow body, and single-ply white binding decorates the edges of the top and back. The guitar is available with two tailpiece options: the standard stopbar tailpiece, or a trapeze tailpiece similar to the original design on the models of the late 1960s. Also familiar is the non-reverse Firebird headstock – a design that first appeared on the Trini Lopez Standard model one year before it became a staple motif of the Firebird line – and the figured acrylic split diamond inlays that adorn the guitar’s 22-fret rosewood fingerboard. A pair of Gibson’s renowned ’57 Classic humbucker pickups gives the Trini Lopez Reissue all the vintage “PAF” tone expected from such a classic guitar. The 2009 Trini Lopez Reissue comes with a standard Gibson Memphis Reissue case and certificate of authenticity.

Mr. ‘La Bamba’

Lopez went on to become one of the premier guitar players and songwriters of the early 1960s. His debut album, Trini Lopez Live at PJ’s, was released in 1963 and contained his swinging rendition of Pete Seeger’s "If I Had a Hammer." The song stayed in the Top 40 for 48 consecutive weeks and hit No. 1 in 25 different countries, ultimately selling over five million copies worldwide. The album also contained his version of the classic Mexican song "La Bamba," which Lopez claims to have been playing long before Richie Valens (his good friend) recorded the version most often associated with the title. It also earned Lopez the nickname “Mr. La Bamba.” Lopez even became a formidable actor, appearing in Marriage on the Rocks (1965) with Frank Sinatra, The Dirty Dozen (1967), and on such classic television shows as Adam-12. Along the way he befriended the likes of Buddy Holly, the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Johnny Carson, and Sinatra, who became his mentor and gave him the nickname “Trini.”