Lisa Nicole Lopes (May 27, 1971 – April 25, 2002) better known by her stage name Left Eye, was an American rapper, singer, dancer, musician, actress, and songwriter. She achieved fame in the 1990s and 2000s as a member of the group TLC. She contributed background vocals and her self-written raps to many of TLC's hit singles, including "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg", "What About Your Friends", "Hat 2 da Back", "No Scrubs", "Waterfalls", "I'm Good at Being Bad", and "Girl Talk". She won four Grammy Awards for her work with TLC. In 2002, Lopes was killed in a car accident when she swerved off the road to avoid hitting another vehicle. She was thrown from her vehicle and died instantly. The last days of her life were documented from March 30, 2002, until her death on April 25, 2002. The footage included the accident that took her life and was made into a documentary called The Last Days of Left Eye, which aired on VH1 in May 2007.
Lopes was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Wanda, an African American seamstress, and Ronald Lopes, a United States Army staff sergeant from Cape Verde. She had a younger brother, Ronald, and a younger sister, Raina. Her father was described by music journalist Jacqueline Springer as an "oppressively" strict and demanding disciplinarian. He was a "talented musician" and played the harmonica, clarinet, piano, and saxophone.
Lopes' parents separated when she was still at school, and she was raised by her paternal grandmother for the later years of her childhood. She began playing with a toy keyboard at five years old, and later composed her own songs. By age 10, she formed the musical trio The Lopes Kids with her siblings, with whom she sang gospel songs at local churches. She attended Girls' High School.
At the age of 19, having heard of an open casting call for a new girl group through her boyfriend at the time, Lopes moved to Atlanta to audition. TLC started as a female trio called 2nd Nature. The group was renamed TLC, derived from the first initials of its then three members: Tionne, Lisa and Crystal. Things did not work out with Crystal Jones, and TLC's manager Perri "Pebbles" Reid brought in Damian Dame backup dancer Rozonda Thomas as a third member of the group.To keep the "initial" theme of the band's name, Rozonda needed a name starting with C, and so became Chilli, a name chosen by Lopes. Band mate Tionne Watkins became T-Boz, which was derived from the first letter of her first name and "Boz" (slang for "boss"). Lopes was renamed "Left Eye", after a compliment from a man who once told her he was very attracted to her because of her left eye. Lopes emphasized her nickname by wearing a pair of glasses with the left lens covered with a condom, in keeping with the group's promotion of safe sex, wearing a black stripe under her left eye, and eventually getting her left eyebrow pierced.
The group arrived on the music scene in 1992 with the album Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip. With four singles, it sold six million copies worldwide; TLC became a household name. 1994 saw the release of CrazySexyCool, which sold over 23 million copies worldwide and cemented TLC as one of the biggest female groups of all time. TLC's third album, FanMail, was released in 1999 and sold over 14 million copies worldwide. Its title was a tribute to TLC's loyal fans and the sleeve contained the names of hundreds of them as a "thank you" to supporters.
During the recording of FanMail, a public conflict began amongst the members of the group. In the May 1999 issue of Vibe magazine, Lopes said, "I've graduated from this era. I cannot stand 100 percent behind this TLC project and the music that is supposed to represent me." In response to Lopes' comments, Watkins and Thomas stated to Entertainment Weekly that Lopes "doesn't respect the whole group" and "Left Eye is only concerned with Left Eye". In turn, Lopes sent a reply through Entertainment Weekly issuing a "challenge" to Watkins and Thomas to release solo albums and let the public decide who was the "greatest" member of TLC:
“I challenge Tionne Watkins (T-Boz) and Rozonda Thomas (Chilli) to an album entitled "The Challenge"... a 3-CD set that contains three solo albums. Each [album]... will be due to the record label by October 1, 2000...I also challenge Dallas 'The Manipulator' Austin to produce all of the material and do it at a fraction of his normal rate. As I think about it, I'm sure LaFace would not mind throwing in a $1.5 million dollar prize for the winner. ”
T-Boz and Chilli declined to take up the "challenge," though Lopes always maintained it was a great idea. Things were heated between the ladies for some time, with Thomas speaking out against Lopes, calling her antics "selfish", "evil", and "heartless." TLC then addressed these fights by saying that they are very much like sisters that have their disagreements every now and then as Lisa stated, "It's deeper than a working relationship. We have feelings for each other, which is why we get so mad at each other. I usually say that you cannot hate someone unless you love them. So, we love each other. That's the problem."
On April 25, 2002, in La Ceiba, Honduras, while driving a rented Mitsubishi Montero Sport around a bend in the road, Lopes swerved to the right slightly to avoid a truck (it is not clear if the truck was slow moving or stationary) then immediately to the left as she tried to avoid an oncoming car. The vehicle rolled several times after hitting two trees, throwing Lopes and three others out of the windows, and finally coming to rest in a ditch at the side of the road. Lopes died instantly of neck injuries and severe head trauma, and was the only person fatally injured in the accident. She had not been wearing a seat belt. Raina Lopes, in the front passenger seat, was videotaping at the time, so the last seconds leading up to the swerve that resulted in the fatal accident were recorded on video.
Lopes' funeral was held at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia on May 2, 2002. Thousands of people attended her funeral. Engraved upon her casket were the lyrics to her portion of "Waterfalls", stating, "Dreams are hopeless aspirations, in hopes of coming true, believe in yourself, the rest is up to me and you." Lopes was buried at Hillandale Memorial Gardens, in Lithonia, Georgia.
In a statement to MTV, producer Jermaine Dupri remembered Lopes: "She was determined to be something in life. She was a true hip-hop star. She cared about some press. She was the star out of the group. She was the one who would curse on TV. She had the tattoos. You could not expect the expected. When you see Lisa, you could expect something from her. That is the gift she carried."
A documentary showing the final 27 days of Lopes' life, titled The Last Days of Left Eye, premiered at the Atlanta Film Festival in April 2007, for an audience that included many of Lopes' contemporaries, including Monica, Ronnie DeVoe, 112, Big Boi, India.Arie, and CeeLo Green. VH1 and VH1 Soul broadcast the documentary on May 19, 2007. Much of the footage was shot with a hand-held camera, often in the form of diary entries filmed by Lopes while on a 30-day spiritual retreat in Honduras with family and members of the R&B group Egypt. In these entries, she reflected on her personal life and career. A calmer side of her personality was on display, showing interests in numerology and yoga. She was in the process of setting up an educational center for Honduran children on 80 acres (32 ha) of land she owned called CAMP YAC, as well as another center called CREATIVE CASTLE.
Information and Photo Credit: wikipedia.org