- Part 1
- Little Franky, family and music
- The Teenage Shadows (Franky's first band)
- Franky with parents in Europe and America
- Part 2
- Pearl Ash founded in Curaçao
- Pearl Ash moving to the Netherlands
- Franky in other music formations
- Part 3
- De Nederlandse "Prince & the Revolution"
- New Pearl Ash formations
- Franky's martial arts (Tang Soo Do)
- Guitarconq Franky Lopes
Frank's family l.to.r.:
Mother: Mabel Lopes, Sister (baby): Irma Lopes, Father: Clifton Lopes, Eldest Child: Frank Lopes, Sister: Marva Lopes, Brother: Manuel Lopes
Frank was 6 years old on the photo with his first cat (Mies). He is very found of animals and he's confident that it's possible to communicate (talk) with animals, if you learn their language. Since he was a little boy of 6 / 7 years old, he already knew that music and rhythm were very important and challenging to him. His parents have always had a piano at home. As a young kid Frank would play everyday after school all kinds of rhythms on the piano, just to make the piano sound funny (weird, freaky) and to enjoy the rhythmical hysteria. That was no problem for his parents. When his parents played records, he often started to dance and would be always creating funny dance-moves. Especially when his mother played those hot merengue records from Santa Domingo (Caribbean Island).
His mother also tought him how to dance the traditional merengue, samba, bolero, waltz, tumba, calypso and salsa-sonmontuno beats at a very young age. He was not shy and was very found of dancing for a crowd, surprising and making everybody enjoy and laugh. At the age of nine, Frank's father approached a music teacher (Mr. Kenneth Lybot) who was a good friend of the family, to give Frank pianolessons at home. In spite of Mr. Lybot's efforts over one year, Frank learned his lessons by ear, instead of learning to read the music notes. Not only was Frank able to learn his lessons by ear, he was also able to learn songs from the radio. Not long after, his father stopped the pianolessons and he just kept on playing the piano by ear. In 1959, his father was transferred to Bonaire (Caribbean Island) for his job as a Custom-Officer. The whole family moved to Bonaire and lived there for three years. On this Island Frank had discovered the guitar at the age of twelve. He started to listen quite often to the fishermen playing their guitars on the beach.
This impressed him very much and would sometimes borrow a guitar from one of the fishermen and try to play the chords and some tunes he already played on the piano, discovering more and more everytime. In 1962, his father was transferred for his job again. This time to Curaçao (Caribbean Island). Frank had a great feeling on this Island, he believed that he would become a famous and very good musician (guitarist). There were many bands in Curaçao at that time, and the most popular bands like "The Three Voices" and "The Three Aces" appeared quite often on TV. Boy Wout (lead guitarist of The Three Voices) and Tutuy (lead guitarist of The Three Aces), were the first musicians that inspired Frank to start dreaming about playing the guitar in a band. There was a lot of action in Curaçao; music-shops, all kind of bands, a TV-station, Radio-stations and a lot of information concerning the music-scene in the world. Frank came in contact with two cousins of his, Clyde and Howard Hook (brothers and vocals/guitars). They had a band called "The Jolly Brothers". Frank started to visit them during their rehearsals. He was learning how to play all the songs of their repertoire fast, just by observing and listening.
Now Frank could play almost every song of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and he also learned to play instrumental songs of The Spotniks, The Jumping Jewels, The Ventures, The Shadows and other music styles; salsa, calypso, tumba, samba-bosanova, motown-soul, rock and roll, rhythm & blues etc. etc. His talented brother Manuel Lopes, had a strong timing and great feeling for rhythm. Frank encouraged and motivated him very much, to learn to play the drums. Together they practiced very dedicated at home, where their parents always supported and stimulated them in their study and development of the art, convinced of the concept, "practice makes perfect". By the time Frank was fifteen, Clyde and Howard asked him to form a new band with them. They wanted him to be the musical-leader and lead guitarist of the group and his brother Manuel the drummer, Clyde vocals/bass and Howard vocals. With this proposal, Frank became the happiest musician on the Island and was very delighted to agree at once. Together they made a nice name for the band, "The Teenage Shadows".
This was Frank's first experience, playing in a band. They performed at private home-parties, clubs, theatres, school-parties, radio and TV-shows. In about 1965, bassplayer Robby Camelia and second guitarist Kinchi Lou joined the band. One year later, Robby Camelia left the band and was replaced by Bobby. Vocalist Howard Hook, also left the band in that same period and was replaced by vocalists Diana Lebacs and Pacheco Domacassé. Diana and Pacheco gave the group a professional and International dimension, with a new pop and rock sound. Now The Teenage Shadows, were becoming one of the hottest (most famous) bands of the Netherlands Antilles. Frank's dream came true, he did become one of the best guitarists and was very famous in Curaçao.
Vocalist Freddy Heiliger (one of the soulbrothers of the Island) joined the band and brought the finishing touch of soul in the band. By this time Frank's interest in music was far greater than his interest in school (advanced elementary), then he made a choice for his future and ended school and he didn't seek a job. Frank decided to dedicate his time in composing his own songs and experimenting with his guitar, which is an important decipline for an autodidact. His parents knew that his decision was determined, and they blessed him with their love, hope, confidence and all the best wishes and success for the future. The Teenage Shadows existed till 1968. In that same year Frank had the privilege of making a big vacation-trip on a Cruiser, the "Santa Maria", across the Atlantic Ocean with his parents. That was a great and pleasant experience. They first stayed three months in Europe, and an other three months in America.
Amsterdam was their headquarters and they would make trips, visiting several European countries. Frank went to many live concerts in Holland and was deeply impressed when he saw Jimi Hendrix and the Cream on TV. Ever since that moment, he was a big fan of Hendrix and wanted to learn to play the guitar just like Jimi. Frank started to study and practice the Jimi Hendrix guitar- style and he would take his electricguitar everywhere he went, to be able to practice Jimi's guitarlicks as much as he could. Frank was also very interested in the hippy-culture of Amsterdam and sometimes, he would borrow an accousticguitar and play with the hippies at the Dam (famous square in Amsterdam, where daily hundreds of hippies gathered for peace and love sit-ins etc. etc.). In Holland he bought records of the Jimmi Hendrix Experience and other guitarist like Eric Clapton (Cream), Johnny Winter, Jeff Beck, Santana, Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) etc. etc.
Frank saw one of the most popular Dutch blues bands, "Cuby and the Blizzards", in Amsterdam at the Lido (livemusic club). It was during this gig that Frank's heart would be conquered by the blues and it was his first experience with a live blues band. In a state of trance he was observing and listening seriously. The lead vocalist, Harry Muskee and especially the lead guitarist, Eelco Gelling, have inspired him so much, that during the concert he was learning the approach of the blues with the guitarlicks. Frank started to listen to B.B. King, Albert King, T-Bone Walker, Freddy King, Buddy Guy, John Mayall, Mike Bloomfield and many other blues giants. During this magical vacation, he learned to play the blues so well, that he started to jam with musicians in Amsterdam. The soul-blues group in Amsterdam, "Ottis Lee", hired him to play lead guitar and later his brother, Manuel, would also join the band. This experience was great, but they had to leave the band, because their parents were getting ready to leave Holland. This time the whole family would cross the Atlantic by airplane to spend another three months of vacation in the United States of America.
At first they stayed by family in New York and later at the Father Devine Hotel in Newark. Frank and Manuel only wanted to jam all over New York city and got acquainted with musicians, who took them to the nice clubs, where they would jam very often with a lot of success. Their clothes and appearance were influenced by the hippies from Holland and they had their hair grow long. During Frank's stay in New York, he was always excited and ready to express his inspirations at any moment on the guitar. In this city, he was experiencing a musical spiritual awareness, and since that time, he would always play the guitar with a strong conviction and submission, lead by faith. Jimmy Hendrix appeared in a vision to give Frank lessons. In this vision Frank was sitting alone on a beach, then all at a sudden Jimmy appeared on a stage in the sea, which was built for a popfestival that Frank was organizing. Jimmy Hendrix was playing all kind of licks, grooves and showing techniques, that Franky would very much like to learn to play.
He spoke very tender and clear and repeated everything very calm and slow on his guitar, so that Franky could hear and see everything perfectly. Franky recorded these teachings very well in his soul. He would compose beautiful grooves during the jam sessions, developing a very unique guitar style. It was the 16th of november 1968 and Frank's birthday. His friends, family and some musicians surprised him with a fantastic birthdayparty in New Jersey, which he would always remember. He was taken away from his birthday party around eleven p.m. by a few friends and they drove to Greenwich Village (artistic area of Manhattan), at the "Electric Circus" (music hall) for an extra surprise. This music hall was the "Mecca" for the flowerpower and underground-scene at that time, where the famous rock bands played, (to be compared with the rock-temple "Paradiso" in Amsterdam). The extra surprise, was the super group, "Led Zeppelin" live. The same thing happened like in Amsterdam, Frank got in to a state of trance from the beginning, till the end of the show. He had learned so much from lead guitarist, Jimmy Page, that evening and enjoyed every second of the show.
After three months in the U.S.A., Frank's whole family returned to Curaçao, which was a little drama, because Frank and Manuel, would have liked to stay in New York and become professional musicians, but their parents figured that they were still a little too young for such an adventure. In Curaçao Frank created the illusion, of forming a Superband, to tour all over the world and become world famous. Many people were astonished and surprised of Frank and Manuel's change in music style, looks and lifestyle. The younger generation was directly turned on by their new image. They were one of the first hippies on the Island with very long hair (Afro Look) and the first musicians, playing loud guitar and drums, with underground and blues beats. Hippies came from all parts of the world to Curaçao and they would enjoy the flowerpower happenings and jam sessions, that Frank and music-promotor, Henky Wolff organised. The name Frank would give the superband was, "Pearl Ash", an inspiration, which he got in the airplane, during their flight from the U.S.A. to Curaçao.
Frank explained the philosophy of the name as follows; "All people, are born as Pearls, but we can see the differences in people who are pleasant or unpleasant, people with respect or without, people with love and harmony or without, honest or dishonest people etc. etc. When your choices are positive, you'll project harmony and live in balance with love, forgiveness, confidence, patience and hope. That's the side of the PEARL. But when your choices are negative, you'll project disharmony and create distrust, fear, hate, greed, jealousy, egoism, illness and weakness for addiction. That's the side of the ASH. This struggle between good and bad exists for ages among humanity. Every individual can relate to a certain extend with the name." Frank was very fond of this name.
In 1969 "Pearl Ash" was founded by musical leader, composer and lead guitarist Frank Lopes in Curaçao. Together with his brother, master drummer Manuel Lopes, bassplayer Daniël Derks, rhythmguitar Humphrey Thodé (Bri) and vocalist Roy den Hartog, the foundation was laid for a unique music formation. Pearl Ash became very popular in a short time and in the newspapers musiccritics called them the trendsetters of music in the Netherlands Antilles. The group was aware of its capacities and started to make plans to go abroad and conquer the world with music. At the end of 1969 vocalist Roy den Hartog left the band and vocalist Franklin Batta (best naturaltalent at that time) joined the band. In 1970 Pearl Ash made an adventurous trip to South America with their musicstyle described by Frank as, criss-cross-contra- jungle-swing (soul-rock-blues). Especially in Venezuela they became very famous. They lived in Caracas (capital of Venezuela) for a half year and performed a lot in TV-shows, theatres, discotheques, festivals,
cultural centres, private parties etc. etc. Their most successful performance in Caracas was at the Hilton Hotel, where they played for about 5000 people, during the Miss Venezuela elections of that year. Ray Charles was also one of the special acts of this event. At the end of 1970 Daniël Derks and Franklin Batta left the band and bass player Albert McGloire, joined the group. Frank, Manuel, Bri and Albert decided to extend their success in Europe. Shortly after their arrival from Curaçao to Amsterdam, the brothers Frank and Manuel Lopes, Bri Thodé, and Albert McGloire started up Pearl Ash again. A half year later the group moved to Groningen (city in the north of Holland) and this city became their residence. Here the group started to become popular in a small scene and played in clubs, popfestivals, and youth centres.
In 1973 Albert McGloire left the group and Bri Thodé did make a change of instrument and became the new bass player. Pearl Ash became an instrumental jazz-rock trio. In this period Frank Lopes got a second vision of Jimmy Hendrix. This time Jimmy explained that Frank's experience with the guitar was fantastic and if Frank would hold on to his faith, his style will have an important and huge influence on the music of the future. His last words were "keep that feeling, your communication is coming on strong". Since that moment Franky is fully confident and knows that it's all going to happen. Wednessday the second of oktober 1974 the band played in Paradiso Amsterdam for a showcase (presentation of new groups). Pearl Ash was favourably received by critics and considered the group to be far ahead of its time. Groups that played that same evening were: Sunfish, Liberation of man, Decenium, Barrel House, Waldo, Dave Ireland, Opo and Jungle.
In 1976 the group decided to play more commercial and added some extra musicians to the band. Guitarist Leo Dorcas, vocalist Franklin Batta and Skeeter (ex American Gipsy) on conga/percussion joined the group. Now Pearl Ash started to play more funky-latin-rock. The group was very successful with the new style. They played all over Europe. Pearl Ash played in concerts as supporting act of groups like Kayak, Livin Blues, Spin etc. etc., and was always a surprising success. Pearl Ash was in a very harmonious phase and an international success was very closeby but the break-through just did not happen. They should have had a commercial, personal manager or promotor at that time, with the right contacts in the right circles of the musicindustry. Leo Dorcas left the band after a half year. In 1977 Manuel Lopes left the band and went first to "Herman Brood & His Wild Romance" and later to "Jan Akkerman". Pearl Ash continued for a little while and stopped at the end of 1977.
In 1978 Frank wanted to play again and he formed a new Pearl Ash with bass player Bri Thodé, guitarist Ruud van As, drummer Robbie Brands and later on vocalist Gina de Boer (blues queen) joined the group. The style changed into funk-rock-blues. Then Ruud and Robbie left the band and two new mucisians, drummer Jans Lamain joined the group. Keyboard-player Biem Visser also joined the band for just a while and was replaced by keyboard-player Valentijn Steenhuis. On the 25th of may 1978, Pearl Ash played as supporting act in a concert of "Daniël Sahuleka" in the "Kolk" (concert-hall in Assen). The band continued for some years and stopped in 1981. In 1981 Jacob Bolhuis (promotor of Mojo Concerts) arranged with record-company Dureco, for Pearl Ash to cooperate with a collective longplay record project called "Northern Lights". Frank carried out this project together with Manuel Lopes on drums, Bri Thodé on bass, Valentijn Steenhuis on keyboard and recorded one of his compositions called, (try to keep alright). Bri Thodé went to "D'men" and later on he started his solo-project called "Bri". In 1997 bassplayer Humphrey Thodé (Bri) passed away.
From 1982 until 1985 Frank had played in a band called "Karina & the Blackbirds" from a little town called Veendam. This band played Dutch songs and country music, they also started to play reggae when Frank joined the group. After this very commercial and pleasant period, Frank started together with virtuosi bassplayer Philip Baumgarten a new band called "The Franky Lopes Communication" in 1986. This duo performed mostly at parties and receptions of the high Industrial circles, playing Caribbean music (soka/calypso). In 1987 drummer Marieke Zwartsenberg joined the group. After a short time bass player Philip left the band and bass player Angela Poort and saxophonist / keyboard player Els, joined the group. The style became soka-funk.
With these three ladies Frank performed successfully at the Uitmarkt in 1987 at the municipal theatre (Groningen). At the end of 1987 The Franky Lopes Communication broke up. Frank started "The Franky Lopes Communication" again, as a freelance group with his brother Manuel Lopes on drums and Philip Baumgarten on bass. Without rehearsing this group had a natural chemistry to play very tight and the audience would swing enormously on their soka-funk beats. Occasionally Master conga-Player, Dick Smid played with the group and dancer, Peggy would also perform at times as special guest star.
In this period Frank was also a freelance guitarist. Together with his brother drummer Manuel and bassplayer Gerrit Veen, he sometimes played with a band called "AA & the Doctors". The leader, composer, vocalist, saxophonist, and pianist of this fantastic energetic rockband is Appy Alberts. In that period another phenomenon rised up in Groningen. His name is Alex Poolman and he was the best Prince imitator in Holland. He performed in about five TV-shows; De vijf uur Show and Top Pop, etc.etc. Frank met him in 1987 at a festival called "Kleur je hart festival", where he performed as supporting act of a famous Dutch group called "The Frank Boeyen Group". Frank Lopes was deeply impressed by his playback act (appeal and skill).
De Nederlandse "Prince & the Revolution"
l.to.r.: Gert Jan, Ferry, Alex, Jos, Franky,
Sandra, Jennifer, Inge and Jannet
In 1988 Frank Lopes and Alex Poolman started a cover-band called "De Nederlandse Prince & the Revolution". Alex would stop his playback-act, and started to learn to sing about 14 Prince-songs with his own voice. Auditions were organised, to select the matching musicians. The group rehearsed very much until it was ready for the road. All costumes were made by Winie Ellérie (Alex's mother). After several successful performances, "De Nederlandse Prince & the Revolution" had their last concert in Paradiso (Amsterdam) which was an amazing climax.
In 1989 Frank formed a new Pearl Ash with most of the young musicians who played with the coverband. First Alex Poolman had to learn to sing all of Frank's new compositions (funk-rock-blues style). Then the complete band rehearsed for several months until the songs and show became nice and tight. This glamorous showband had a complete lightshow, PA sound-equipment, own decors, acts and about 16 beautiful songs composed by Frank Lopes. All costumes were once again made by made by Winie Ellérie. On the 14th of june 1991 Pearl Ash organised a try-out in a nice discotheque called "Skopje" in Harkstede (village). This was very successful. Shortly after the try-out, Pearl Ash made a demo-CD called, "Forgive to be forgiven" which was produced and financed by their own independent Pearl Ash Label. The following songs are on the CD: Forgive to be forgiven - You're my fantasy - Do you believe in love - The presence of love.
There was quite some airplay on the local radio station (Radio Noord in Groningen) and quite some people became enthousiastic fans. Drummer Martin Grandtner left the group in 1991 and he was replaced by drummer Lola. In this period Pearl Ash was working on a Video-Clip. In 1992 Pearl Ash organised a concert in "Huize Maas" (music hall in Groningen) with a group called "D-Tour" as supporting act. In this same period Frank Lopes and business partner Harrold Hazelhoff went to New York to promote the CD and to make some connections. Roy Louis (a musician and good friend of Frank's) who was living in New York at that time, brought them in contact with "Paragon Productions" (specialised in music for movies).
After listening to the CD and looking at a video recording of the try-out, the president of the company (Aretha Walker) became very interested and excited. She offered Frank a proposal to make a Pearl Ash movie about Frank's life, musical talent, faith, dream, the ups and downs in the music industry, his perseverance and dynamic creativity to be trying it again and again until he achieves his worldwide success etc. etc. On the fifth of june 1992 Pearl Ash organised a special live concert for Aretha, who was in Holland for meetings concerning the Pearl Ash movie. She was very much surprised and enjoyed every moment of that performance. Everything seemed to be going prosperous and a dream seemed to be coming true. But it was not meant to be. The Dutch and American money sponsors dropped out and the whole plan was cancelled. Not long after this disillusion the band had fallen apart.
In 1993 Frank started Pearl Ash again, with young and talented musicians and the same concept as the last group. There is a video-recording of a fantastic live performance of this formation. Frank's last performance with Pearl Ash was in 1995 in "de Spieghel" (music club in Groningen).
In this period Frank decided not to form a new band, because he wanted to have more time to think and get inspirations for a new music-concept and approach. Suddenly he had the formula in his head and that was the following: a solo project by the name of "Guitarconq Franky Lopes", with a lot of guitar-action, vocals and show. Conquistador is the Spanish word for conqueror. Frank believed that his music, in combination with fast and energetic moves like; high (karate) front-kicks, side-kicks, swing-kicks, splits, wide acrobatic stances, etc.etc. and at the same time singing and playing the guitar, would be a unique and very spectacular show and music concept. He decided to look around and started to orientate in the martial arts circles, where he could learn these techniques.
Tang Soo Do
Then he read in a booklet concerning all kinds of sports and activities in the city (Groningen), something about the Tang Soo Do traditional Korean martial art style. He became interested in this style and wanted to get more information. Frank made a phonecall and made an appointment with Mr. Lee, the Master of Kwon Moo (Tang Soo Do studio in Groningen) to drop in and get an impression of a class. The next evening Frank went to the class and he was allowed to join the group, just to get acquinted with the feeling. This was his first experience with a class in martial arts. He was stiff for three days and had pain in his muscles, but he felt that it was very good and healthy. In 1997 at the age of 48, Frank started to practice Tang Soo Do, which became just like the music, an important part of his life.
Frank's plan at first was to practice for one year, to slimdown and become limber and flexible, learn the kicking- techniques and make his body stronger, to create an extra flashy and sensational appeal on stage, with his new musical solo project. The results of one year training were amazing. Frank learned beautiful techniques, he became slim, limber and very flexible. He now started to understand the Teachings and Art of Tang Soo Do and became very enthousiastic and fanatic. He didn't stop with Tang Soo Do after one year, but decided to keep on studying and learning everything that was necessary to become a 1st Dan (Black Belt). This became his new and interesting challenge. In 2003 Frank succeeded in his 1st Dan (Black Belt) examination. Frank is not only practicing the art of Tang Soo Do, for he has now started to follow a course in an ancient Korean art called "Haidong Gumdo" (Korean Swordsmanship).
Frank is a member of:
- Holland Tang Soo Do Organisation, President Master A. H. Lee - 5th Dan
- American Tang Soo Do Association, President Grand Master Richard Byrne - 8th Dan
More martial art information about Frank Lopes? See the page:
Franky Lopes black belt profile
In 2001 Frank started his new solo project, but just as he was getting ready to present his demo music video, his father passed away that same year, in may 2001 in Curaçao and in august, three months later, his brother died of a tumor. For six months Frank took care of his brother until he passed away (at Frank's home). This was the saddest period of Frank's life.
Frank has started with his solo project again. Are you ready for "Guitarconq Franky Lopes"? He has proven to be a Master guitarist. I'm fully confident that he's going to conquer the world with his guitar.
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