Richard “Scar” Lopez
May 18, 1945 – July 30, 2010
Richard “Scar” Lopez was an original member of Cannibal & The Headhunters, a group of singers from East Los Angeles who are considered to the first Mexican American group to have a national hit record with “Land Of A Thousand Dances.” The odds of making a record that would become one of the most famous songs in rock history have got to be at least a million to one. And even less likely, is to find yourself sharing the bill with the Beatles on their legendary 1965 US tour. Cannibal & the Headhunters did just that. Lopez was just a high school kid living in East L.A. when he and brothers, Joe “Yo Yo” Jaramillo and Bobby “Rabbit” Jaramillo discovered they could create a special harmony when singing together. Within a short time, they teamed up with another local singer by the name of Frankie “Cannibal” Garcia to form the group that would soon be called Cannibal & The Headhunters, with Garcia as front man. After passing an audition for local record executive Eddie Davis, Cannibal & The Headhunters signed to his Rampart Records. They were soon in the studio recording “Land Of A Thousand Dances,” a song co-written by Fats Domino which was already a local hit by another artist. But it was their version of the song that shot to Billboard’s top 30 in April of 1965, and they were fast becoming the pride of East L.A. Before long, the group found themselves on the road sharing the stage with such superstars as the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Ben E. King, Marvin Gaye, Wilson Pickett and Tom Jones. They were also invited to perform on “Hullabaloo,” a national rock ‘n roll variety show that counted Paul McCartney as one of its fans. The story goes that McCartney saw the boys on “Hullabaloo” and requested that manager Brian Epstein bring them on tour with the Beatles. The group was soon flying around the country playing before tens of thousands of screaming Beatles fans at each stop. That tour included the Beatles’ legendary Shea Stadium and Hollywood Bowl shows. Legend has it that the Headhunters were exciting the crowds so much, that Epstein asked their manager to have them ease up a bit on stage. Back home after the tour, the guys started to make more records, but were never able to recapture the hysteria that sparked from that first huge hit. By 1967, Cannibal & The Headhunters had broken up and Lopez went on to become a landscaper, but the group occasionally reunited for special events. Richard “Scar” Lopez was 65 when he died of lung cancer on July 30, 2010.