Joe Chavira (right) will honor Trini Lopez's passing on Aug. 11 with a concert in his honor in Las Vegas.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY JOE CHAVIRA
Joe Chivira never thought he would wake up from this dream. After meeting his childhood hero, Trini Lopez, in 2015 in Indian Wells, and teaming up with the Palm Springs singing legend to create their own original songs that took the duo to Sri Lanka for a concert in 2016 and produced a a 3-CD collectible set of music, the partnership of a lifetime came to an unexpected end about a year ago.
On Aug. 11, 2020 following a bout of being in and out of the hospital, Lopez passed away from coronavirus at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs. Just prior to his passing, Chavira phoned Lopez in the hospital and the nurse told him that Trini was unresponsive. He had the nurse hold the phone next to the 83-year-old’s ear and used a voice like the characters in Alvin and the Chipmunks and said, "Hey Trini, it’s your amigo, Joe," he said. Trini softly laughed and said ," Hey Joe, I'm ok."
“And that's the last short conversation I'll hold to my heart and always cherish,” Chavirsa says.
Since then as the one-year anniversary approaches, Chavira has been crafting a tribute show to Lopez that will hit the stage at the Rockstar Bar in Las Vegas on Aug. 11, and then again on Sept. 24 at the Palm Canyon Roadhouse in Palm Springs. He also plans to take his band — Gerald Purify, Edwin Echols, Daniel Medeiros, and Sean Roberts — to Trini’s hometown of Dallas, Texas and perform. Members of the Lopez family are expected to attend the shows.
“I know what it took for Trini through hard work to go from Dallas to meet Frank Sinatra and watch his career take off, and now this legacy I carry from Trini is with all the respect in the world,” Chavira says. “My life has changed so much because of him.”
At Lopez's funeral in Texas, Chavira sang a song the duo wrote, “Heaven’s Eyes,” which will close his tribute show before coming back on stage with an encore rendition of a Lopez hit, “If I Had a Hammer”.
In addition, Chavira’s song list will include another song they co-wrote,“If By Now,” which the duo performed together during a half-hour coronavirus TV fundraiser on a station near Chavira’s hometown of Santa Barbara. Chavira recorded the song last month in Las Vegas surrounded by a host of backup singers, including Mark Guerrero of Palm Springs (who also doubles on guitar), and produced by James Hellman, who worked with Michael Buble, and Alan Glist, Wayne Newton’s promoter.
Joe Chavira met Trini Lopez in Indian Wells in 2015 when Trini was being recognized with a lifetime achievement award.
The number of songs they collaborated on over a relatively short period of time astonishes Chavira. “Trini was really fast,” Chavira says. “I used to call him the Robin Williams of singing. He was quick, quick-witted. I mean, you’d think he was getting old. Not even. He’d blow you away sometimes.”
The two-hour tribute show will also include video of Lopez and Chavira working together inside Trini’s Palm Springs home or just hanging out. And Chavira will help induct Trini into the Rockstar Wall of Fame by revealing his plaque during the show alongside portraits of Jim Morrison, Freddie Mercury and other musical legends.
“A smile is inside my heart that will continue to shine as I carry the legacy of Trini Lopez that I hold so divine,” Chavira says. “Meeting Trini was so amazing and he said it was meant to be, and i believe it to be true because all my dreams came true. I love and miss my songwriting amigo very much."