Lisa Lopes, a member of the one of the best-selling female vocal groups in pop music history, Grammy Award-winning R&B trio TLC, was killed April 25 in a car crash while vacationing in Honduras.
Nicknamed "Left Eye", first because of her early on-stage appearances with a condom covering her left eye, later replaced with a streak of black anti-glare grease commonly worn by athletes, Lisa Lopes was killed instantly in the wreck, according to authorities in Honduras. None of the seven other people in the vehicle at the time of accident was injured.
The Philadelphia-born Lopes was the rapping member of TLC. Formed and at first managed by R&B singer Pebbles, the trio, which also included Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, debuted in 1992 with the release of Ooooooh ? On The TLC Tip. The album contained the hits Baby-Baby-Baby and What About Your Friends. The name TLC came from the first letter of the nicknames of its members. In the early years, the group's in-concert wardrobe featured baggy clothing with condoms as fashion accents.
TLC's 1994 album, CrazySexyCool, sold more than four-million copies in the U.S. "Left Eye" became known as the "crazy" member of the trio, while "Chilli" played the "sexy" role and "T-Boz" was the "cool one." CrazySexyCool earned the trio the first two of its four Grammy Awards, and contained the Number One song, Creep.
CrazySexyCool also saw TLC abandon its gimmicky image. The group earned critical acclaim for video clips to hit songs like Waterfalls, which addressed social issues, such as AIDS and drug-dealing.
Also in 1994, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes pleaded guilty to arson. After an argument with her boyfriend, former U.S. professional football player Andre Rison she started a fire that destroyed Rison's mansion, valued at more than $1 million. The couple broke up, but reunited several years later, and announced plans to marry. The wedding, however, was called off at the last minute.
While TLC was on tour in 2000, in support of its Fanmail CD, Lopes fueled rumors of dissention within the group when she publicly issued a challenge for each member of the trio to record a solo album. She said the public would decide, through record sales, which of the three was the group's most-popular member. In an interview later that year, TLC's Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins dismissed the talk of a serious rift, saying "With three women, you agree to disagree."
Although TLC had been on hiatus since 2000, "Left Eye"'s label, Arista Records, distributed her solo album, Supernova, internationally last year. The CD was never released in the U.S. after American radio gave the songs only limited airplay. Lopes, reportedly, had recently signed a contract with Death Row Records for a solo project, using the pseudonym N.I.N.A., an acronym for "New Identity Not Applicable." TLC also had been working on a new album for release later this year.
After learning of "Left Eye"'s death, Arista Records president Antonio "L.A." Reid issued a statement saying, "Lisa was not only a gifted and talented musical inspiration, but more importantly, she was like a daughter to me. My thoughts and prayers are with Lisa's family and friends. Her legacy will be remembered forever."
Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes of TLC would have been 31 years old in May.