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Dallas native Trini Lopez created a legacy built on his familial, cultural and Texan roots

Even though Trini Lopez became a worldwide phenomenon because of his music, his family says he never forgot where he came from or the people he grew up with as well.

Trinidad Lopez III, or more commonly known as Trini Lopez, is one of the most famous singers from Dallas.

But people remember him for more than his music.

Just ask his nephew Salvador Martinez.

"His legacy as a human being was being a human being," Salvador Martinez said. "He treated all humans as human beings."

Lopez died at 83 in August from COVID-19.

"He was able to become who he is truly on his own," said nephew Joseph Henry Martinez said. "His music was his music. His talent was definitely his talent. And he had it."

All the nephews simply called Lopez "Tio."

Joseph Henry Martinez is one of these nephews, and he said even though Lopez had already found national recognition when Martinez was a kid, his uncle always valued spending time with his family in Dallas.

Credit: Dallas Mexican America Historical League

"He would always be home — Always," Joseph Henry Martinez said, speaking about the holidays. "He would not perform. That made a big impression on me, and I'm sure it made a big impression on my brothers and sisters and my cousins."

Lopez took the poetic, folk music he loved growing up and mixed in a little more energy.

Nephew Robert Diaz said that unique energy came from his love for Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley.

 "What he did is he said, 'I'm going to change it to where it's going to be a style where people can sing along and they can dance,'" Diaz said

"He was able to come from the background that he had and cross over into popular music," Joseph Henry Martinez said.

Credit: Trini Lopez

Lopez found a lot of success throughout his musical career, including having one of his early songs "If I Had a Hammer" reach number one in 36 countries.

"A lot of producers and a lot of agents kept saying, 'Hey Trini, you should think about changing your name,' Diaz said. "He automatically said, 'No, I'm a very proud Mexican-American. I'm a local. I was born and raised in Dallas."

Lopez also ventured into the movie industry, taking on one of the main roles in the 1967 movie The Dirty Dozen.

One thing his nephews said Lopez told them is to always take care of bus boys and waiters.

"He said to tell them all thank you because you're tipping me the whole time," Salvador Martinez said.

Credit: Trini Lopez

While his musical career will be cherished by many, Salvador Martinez also said his family wants to help people remember what Lopez was like outside the recording booth.

"His legacy as a human being was being a human being," Salvador Martinez said. "He treated all humans as human beings."

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