BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  Entertainment: Music
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Friday, 26 April, 2002, 10:12 GMT 11:12 UK
Left Eye's sideways look at life
Lopes's musical career lasted 10 years
test hello test
By Ian Youngs
BBC News Online

Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes was a superstar for her behaviour outside music as much as for being part of the hugely popular female R&B group TLC.

She sold more than 20 million albums with TLC, who became one of the biggest groups in the United States in the 1990s, and had a string of solo hits.

Lopes (centre) won four Grammy Awards with TLC
But she was also arrested for burning down her boyfriend's house, adopted her friend's daughter and battled with an alcohol problem.

Lopes was born in Philadelphia in 1971 and her father exposed her to a wide range of music at an early age.

He was also in the army, and she described herself as an "army brat", moving between black, white and Hispanic areas.

She moved to Atlanta, Georgia, at the age of 19, and it was there that her musical career was born after meeting Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas - her TLC bandmates.

 Click here to watch Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes's video for The Block Party from Top of the Pops

The group, which combined smooth soul and urban R&B sounds, were guided by producer Pebbles and won success as soon as their debut album Oooooooh... On the TLC Tip came out in 1992.

That was partly down to singles like Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg and Baby-Baby-Baby, and partly to their colourful, sassy image.

She was convicted of arson in 1994

As for that nick-name - it came about, she says, after a man told her that her left eye was particularly beautiful.

Just before the group's second album was released in 1994, Lopes hit the headlines - but not for her music.

She had burned down the $2m (1.4m) mansion of her boyfriend, Atlanta football star Andre Rison, after an argument.

She said she stormed off and "decided to barbeque his tennis shoes" but she started a fire that got out of control and was charged with arson.

A $10,000 (6,900) fine and five years' probation followed, as did treatment for alcohol abuse.

But on leaving court following the hearing, she and Rison made a surprise announcement that they had got engaged.


The second TLC album, Crazysexycool, went on to sell 10 million copies and spawned hits including Creep and Waterfalls.

But despite the success, they were still 3m in debt because of contracts they had signed with Pebbles.

There's a thin line between genius and insanity - and I always get labelled as being the crazy one

Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes
A court case freed them from the contracts and allowed them to release their third album, FanMail, which included the singles No Scrubs and Unpretty.

That album topped the US pop album charts for five weeks, and won the Grammy for best R&B album the following year.

The Supremes were the only female group with more US number one singles.

But Lopes was yearning for an outlet for her solo creativity.

In 2000, she collaborated with Spice Girl Melanie C on worldwide hit Never Be the Same Again, and was also working on her debut solo album.

That album, Supernova, was released on 16 August 2001 - chosen because it was the date her father had died as well as the date that he had been born.

A keen interest in astrology and numerology added to her superstitious nature.


And her reputation for eccentricity and unpredictability was enhanced when she was reported missing in September that year after failing to attend family and press events.

But she turned up, and adopted a friend's eight-year-old child, Snow, after the friend had trouble looking after her.

Other unconventional deals included one for her own children's cookery TV show called Cheft-Eye.

Her debut solo album was released in 2001
Her next album was going to be another solo effort, but under a new name - NINA, which she said stood for New Identity Not Applicable.

She was to have hooked up with the notorious rap record label Tha Row, formerly known as Death Row.

And the marriage to Rison was still in the pipeline.

One track from Supernova, Hot!, saw Lopes enthuse about her success and the fact that she always managed to defy expectations.

A "borderline genius" was how she saw herself - like "Einstein in Carmen Jones's body".

"Well, they say that there's a thin line between genius and insanity," she later said.

"And I always get labelled as being the crazy one, which doesn't bother me at all, but there are a lot of things about me that people don't know."

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Music stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Music stories