Lillian Lopez, one of the two sisters in Odyssey would have celebrated her birthday this week.
The three Lopez sisters, Lillian, Louise and Carmen began singing together professionally in 1968 at their local stage shows as The Lopez Sisters. This led to some tours in Europe. In the mid-Seventies Carmen left the fold and was replaced by Manila-born Tony Reynolds, but he left after just one album. Bill McEachern, a tenor formally of We the People, joined after their first hit, but left soon after. “Getting bookings was hard because Odyssey were two girls and a guy”, Lillian explained. “So I said to my husband, Al Jackson, get your dancing shoes on, it looks like you’re in the band.”
The sisters ‘hid’ their ages well. Lillian was born in 1935 and Louise in 1933 which means at the time of their first UK hit at Christmas 1977, the ‘girls’ were 42 and 44 respectively. That first hit was Native New Yorker and song Frankie Valli had recorded earlier the same year.
Three years passed between their first and second hits. Louise explained, “We had problems with our management company, Champion Entertainment, and our second album, Hollywood Party Tonight, wasn’t danceable enough and didn’t really do anything. It’s dodgy doing slow songs when you’re just breaking through.”
Their second hit, Use It Up and Wear It Out, went to number one and the follow-up, If you’re Lookin’ for a Way Out reached number six. They had two further top 10 hits when a cover of Lamont Dozier’s Going Back to My Roots got to four in 1981 and Inside Out went one better in 1982.
After the hits dried up, they continued touring and I had the pleasure of working with them in 1990. Lillian, who retired from the music industry in 2000, died in September 2012 and Louise passed away in January 2015. Both had exquisite voices comparable to Randy Crawford or Gwen Dickey of Rose Royce.
Let’s enjoy the 1981 hit If You’re Lookin’ for a Way Out.