Obituaries

Richard Lopez of Cannibal & the Headhunters was 65

The original Cannibal & the Headhunters had one good year after springing out of Lincoln High School, but boy was it a good year — they opened for the Beatles' U.S. tour in 1965 and for the Rolling Stones, appeared on "American Bandstand" and made the Billboard charts. All because of Land of a Thousand Dances; their cover version played with the lyrics and added the "na na na na" riff, originally because lead singer Frankie "Cannibal" Garcia forgot the words. Wherever Chicanos gather to dance, I bet this classic of the Eastside Sound is still played.

Lopez, called Scar, grew up in the Ramona Gardens housing project and co-founded the band at Lincoln. "We were four Mexican kids from East L.A., coming from the projects," he told the LA Weekly in 2005. "Your dreams can be fulfilled if you work at it." Lopez died of lung cancer July 30 in a convalescent hospital in Garden Grove.


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