Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, the most flamboyant and outspoken member of the multiplatinum trio TLC, has died, according to a spokesperson for the group’s label, Arista Records. Lopes was 30.
The rapper/singer perished in a car accident late Thursday night while she was vacationing in Honduras.
(Click here for photos of Left Eye and friends.)
“We had all grown up together and were as close as a family. Today we have truly lost our sister,” Lopes’ TLC partners Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas said in a statement (see “Chilli, T-Boz, Jermaine Dupri Remember TLC’s Left Eye” ).
Friday afternoon (April 26) on MTV’s “TRL,” the audibly distraught ladies phoned in, saying, “Lisa had one of the biggest hearts of anybody we’ve ever known. She did charity work with kids for the lupus disease. She adopted a little girl named Snow. … Lisa could do anything she put her mind to.”
“No words can possibly express the sorrow and sadness I feel for this most devastating loss,” Arista CEO L.A. Reid said in a statement. “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.”
On Friday morning Lopes’ personal publicist released details about the tragedy. Left Eye went down to Honduras — where she would often visit — on March 20, and was scheduled to return to the States on Sunday. While there, she was volunteering at a children’s development center and at the Usha Herbal Resource Institute, an herbal healing center.
Left Eye was driving a rented Mitsubishi Montero SUV and traveling from La Ceiba to San Pedro Sula. According to her spokesperson, a three-person group called Egypt, her brother, sister and two producers were in the vehicle with her. The spokesperson said the SUV tipped over and Left Eye died after sustaining a blow to the head.
According to authorities in Jutiapa, Lopes was not licensed to drive internationally and was apparently speeding and lost control. The car crashed in Roma, which is one of Jutiapa’s provinces.
Everyone was taken to the Vicente D’Antoni hospital in La Ceiba and, according to that medical facility, there were eight other passengers in the vehicle. Four were released, and the remaining four remain hospitalized in stable condition.
The U.S. Embassy in Honduras said it is working with the San Jose Funeral Home in La Ceiba and the Lopes family to make arrangements for the body to be flown back to Atlanta. No funeral plans have been made yet.
As for the musical projects Left Eye was involved with, TLC were working on an album, and at least four tracks have been completed. Left Eye had been in the studio working on a track with David Bowie and had hoped to do a song with Eve and Pink based on the theme of Philly pride, Lopes’ spokesperson said.
Born in Philadelphia, Left Eye later moved to Atlanta, where she formed TLC with Watkins and Thomas. The trio’s 1992 debut LP, Ooooooohhh … On the TLC Tip, spawned the top 10 hits “Baby-Baby-Baby,” “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” and “What About Your Friends.”
The group’s hip-pop beats — provided by Jermaine Dupri and Dallas Austin — and their identifiable b-girl style captivated fans, helping the trio become instant stars. With condoms on their clothes, their hats shifted to the back and their sagging, baggy pants, TLC exuded girl-powered audacity. As the resident rapper among two singers, Left Eye immediately stood out.
Two years later, TLC proved their staying power with the blockbuster LP Crazysexycool. The group expanded its message while expanding its fanbase, offering such songs as “Creep” (exploring relationship infidelity) and “Waterfalls” (which addressed a number of society’s ills).
Away from the studio, the trio brought the drama that would keep the world fixated on them. In the five years between Crazysexycool and their third LP, Fan Mail, TLC publicly quarreled amongst themselves, fought with their former manager, Pebbles, as well as their record label. They also declared bankruptcy and disclosed life-threatening illnesses, among other things. Lopes upped the controversy even further when she set fire to the home of her on-again, off-again boyfriend, football star Andre Rison, in 1994.
Throughout it all, Left Eye held her head high and spoke her mind on everything. No matter how outrageous the situation, Left Eye would seem to trump it with an even more outrageous opinion. More than any other member of the group, Left Eye became a character, and what she did offstage became just as interesting as (if not more interesting than) what she did onstage.
Last year, Lopes was engaged in another beef with her label when it decided not to release her long-talked about solo debut, Supernova, domestically (see “Left Eye Plans To Stream Delayed Album” ). Although TLC were said to be working on the their fourth LP for months (see “Reconciled TLC Recording New Album, Solo Projects” ), Lopes dropped another shocker at the beginning of this year when she announced that she had aligned herself with Suge Knight’s Tha Row label. Lopes said that she would record a new solo album in Los Angeles under the name N.I.N.A. While “Nina” is slang for a 9 mm handgun, Left Eye said her Row moniker stood for “New Identity Non-Applicable” (see “Left Eye Signs With Suge Knight’s Tha Row” ).
There is no word yet on how much material Left Eye recorded for her new solo album or for the next TLC project, or what plans (if any) there are for the release of those albums.
For complete coverage on the Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes tragedy, see Remembering Left Eye: The Lisa Lopes Reports.