TLC’s influence in popular culture cannot be denied. The group set trends in fashion and with the personalities – and their music is also a testament to their creative genius. But lead singer T-Boz says many felt their career was over following the death of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes.
A recap of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes’ death
Lopes often took long trips to Honodorous for spiritual cleansing. During the spring of 2002, she along with eight of her close friends and artists traveled to the island for an extended stay.
While there, the group participated in fasting, meditation, exercising, and more. The purpose of the trip was to have Lopes’ friends and artists cleanse before diving back into work.
On April 25, 2002, Lopes was driving with multiple passengers when she swerved to avoid an oncoming truck. She lost control of the vehicle, with the car rolling three times.
Lopes and three others were ejected from the car through the windows. Lopes died instantly from her injuries. She was the only fatality in the accident, despite being the only one to wear a seatbelt.
Her funeral was held a little over a week later in Georgia, with more than 30,000 attendees. Fans lined the streets to pay their respects. Lopes was honored at various music events the same year. MTV announced the Lisa Lopes AIDS scholarship at the 2002 Video Music Awards in honor of Lopes’ humanitarian efforts in the fight against AIDS.
T-Boz and Chilli mourned her death in various interviews and at the MTV Video Music Awards the same year. Though Lopes and Chilli were estranged, the two shared a close bond throughout their careers together. Lopes and T-Boz reconnected months before Lopes’ death.
The remaining group members vowed to never replace Lopes and to move forward as a duo and honor Lopes’ legacy along the way.
T-Boz says industry friends turned their backs on TLC after Left Eye’s death; accuses them of saying TLC’s career was over
TLC continued performing without Lopes, releasing their fourth studio album months after Lopes’ death. The album featured some of Lopes’ raps, which were completed before her passing.
The group also participated in a reality series on UPN, selecting a rapper to be featured on a song. Beyond that, they maintained that replacing Lopes was not an option.
Despite such, T-Boz explains in a recent interview with Hollywood Unlocked that their musical peers counted them out following Lopes’ death.
“Honestly, when Lisa died, the whole industry turned on us. Ev-er-y-body. They was like, ‘It’s over for them. They’re never going to do it again,’” she said.”
T-Boz got even more specific, calling out some of her peers and accusing them of telling them their career was over or refusing to help them when needed.
“Everybody – L.A. Reid. I’ll call em all out,” she continues. “I don’t care. L.A. All the big execs who we put on the map, made them all kind of millions. It was like, ‘Umph.’ Then the artists. I remember the one who said yes was VH1 Superbowl Blitz. That concert was the most stressful, hectic concert but it ended up being the greatest.”
Luckily the group did not give up and remain of the most influential and best-selling girl groups of all time.
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