1965 Trini Lopez – Lemon Tree
Trini Lopez grew up in Dallas. He left school before he finished so that he could earn money to help support his family. He formed his own band, and they performed in a club owned by Jack Ruby. His band recorded a single that failed to chart, after which he decided to pursue a solo career.
By 1963, Trini had already released nearly two dozen singles, but none of them had charted. He began performing regularly in clubs in Southern California, and he became a regular at PJs.
Frank Sinatra started his own record label, Reprise Records, and caught Trini’s act. The result: he signed Trini to a contract and had him begin recording live albums at the club for his label.
Peter, Paul, and Mary had reached the top ten in 1962 with their version of Pete Seeger’s If I Had A Hammer. Trini’s cover version in 1963 reached #3 on the Hot 100, the most successful single of his career.
Trini released a string of singles over the next two years. The most successful follow-up was another song that had been a hit by Peter, Paul, and Mary. Their first charting single was a song written by folksinger Will Holt in the fifties, Lemon Tree. That was the group’s first charting single; it reached #35 in 1962.
Trini released his cover version of the song in 1965 and reached #20 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
One more of Trini’s singles reached #39 on the Hot 100, but otherwise he found little success on the chart after 1965. Fortunately, his records continued to chart well on the Adult Contemporary chart. He had three more top ten singles on the chart by 1967 and followed those with four more top forty singles in the next year.
In 1967, Trini also recorded a promotional song, The Blizzard Song. Fans who bought a carton of Fresca (a diet soft drink) got a free record that included that song as well as If I Had A Hammer and two other songs.
Trini appeared in a few movies and television shows, but continued singing for audiences all his life. He died in 2020 after struggling with complications of the coronavirus.
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