Whenever an anniversary of the death of a beloved musician comes around, it’s always difficult to believe that they’ve been gone for so long. Last year made a decade since Tupac Shakur left us and last month marked 10 years since the Notorious B.I.G. passed away. Wednesday (April 25) is five years to the day TLC’s Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes died. She was 30.
Like 2Pac and Biggie, Left Eye, of course, left a whole legacy of music and memorable media moments to remember her by. But what we didn’t know until now is that the self-proclaimed “crazy” third of TLC left even more behind. The hip-hop singer documented the last month of her life in video form, and that footage will soon be made available for the public to see in the VH1 doc “Last Days of Left Eye.”
Lopes died in a car accident on April 25, 2002, while in Honduras, where she had gone for spiritual and physical healing. She went there on a 30-day pilgrimage with family and friends and was killed just a few days before her scheduled return to the U.S.
“Last Days of Left Eye” tells her story not just in the Honduras — she originally went there in 1997 to study with controversial natural healer Dr. Sebi and kept returning — but also the beginning of her life, her career and into its tragic conclusion.
Much like MTV Films’ “Tupac: Resurrection,” “Last Days of Left Eye” lets the pop star tell her own story through interviews she taped in the Honduras as well as a slew of unreleased home videos, photos and famous footage from the vaults of television outlets such as MTV. Laurin Lazin, who directed and wrote the Tupac movie, also directed and wrote the Lopes project.
Left Eye rarely shied away from a camera or microphone — well, except after some well-publicized TLC no-shows, and another time when she went missing for a few days, but it turned out she was just spending some quality time with her boyfriend (footage of which is in the movie).
Still, over the course of Lopes’ career, fans got to feel that they knew her intimately. That was one of the keys to TLC’s success — not only were they talented, but they were easily one of the most publicly identifiable groups of their generation, thanks also to TLC’s efforts to raise awareness about contraceptive devices.
“Last Days,” though, gives some new insights that even devout Lopes fans may not have known about. How did Left Eye become such a rebel? She talks in depth about her childhood and how she became the woman we came to know. Maybe the most revealing chapter in the film deals with her infamous relationship with fiance/ NFL Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Rison. Lopes breaks down the violent night of fighting that led to her burning down his Atlanta mansion — “I was just trying to barbecue his tennis shoes,” she later explained — and reveals more about the trials of their relationship.
Left Eye was drawn to go to the Honduras for the final time after Arista Records declined to release her solo LP, Supernova. She was upset and needed to take a break, and Honduras seemed like the perfect refuge where she could reflect. She had been involved in a separate car accident in which a local boy — who had the same last name as the singer — was killed. Left Eye said that “spirit” was chasing her, and she started foreshadowing more death. The footage of her in the Honduras goes almost to the exact moment of the other car accident, in which she was killed. She was driving an SUV with six other people when she lost control of the vehicle. Left Eye was the only one victim.
Last week in Atlanta, VH1 held a screening of the movie as part of the Atlanta Film Festival with several of Left Eye’s friends and admirers — Monica, Ron DeVoe of New Edition, 112, Big Boi, Rico Wade, India.Arie and Cee-Lo were all in attendance. Lopes’ family, who supplied much of the footage to VH1, was there as well. After the movie, many took time to reflect on the late singer’s life.
“A lot of people were coming up to me and asking me about different things in the movie, but I was learning a lot from it myself,” Cee-Lo said of the event.
Lopes would have turned 36 on May 27. “Last Days of Left Eye” debuts on VH1 and VH1 Soul on May 19 at 9 p.m.