December 4, 2023 | Brendan Da Costa

Tough Facts About Lisa Left Eye Lopes, The Fiery MC


Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was the ill-fated member of TLC whose heartbreaking life came to a calamitous end. The scariest part? She saw it coming.


1. Her Story Was A Tragedy

Music fans remember Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes as the ill-fated member of TLC—even if she did try to break up the band. Long before the accident that claimed her life, however, her story was full of heartbreak, tragedy, and fiery disasters. But the cruelest twist in her already calamitous story was that she saw the end coming.

Lisa Ron Davis, Getty Images

2. She Carried Her Family’s Burdens

Lisa Nicole Lopes was born in 1971 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her humble upbringing should have prepared her for the tumultuous and chaotic life that lay ahead. Instead, it did nothing but sow the seeds for her struggles going forward. Her challenging relationships with her father and grandfather stayed with her for life.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes as a small childVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

3. She Went To “Boot Camp”

Lopes’ father, Ronald Lopes Sr, was a US Army staff sergeant. According to Lopes, he drilled her just as hard as he drilled new recruits. She said that he was “very strict, very domineering” and ran their household like it was “boot camp”. Sadly, her father would not be the last—or even the worst—domineering man in her life.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes wearing a hatVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

4. She Took After Her Father

With a father as strict as hers, Lopes learned a lot about discipline and hard work. But that wasn’t all she learned from her father. According to Lopes, her father had a profound musical talent of his own that clearly rubbed off on her. By the age of five, she was playing and composing songs on her toy piano. She just needed a little more “TLC”.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes as a young girlVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

Advertisement

5. She Joined Her First Band

In the coming years, Lopes would rise to fame as a member of the girl band, TLC. But it wasn’t the first band that she had joined. At just 10 years old, she roped her siblings into forming a band called “The Lopes Kids”. Together, they sang gospel songs and performed at events and churches within their community. But she didn’t play too well with others.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes as a young girlVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

6. She Only Had $750

By 1990, Lopes was ready to break out of her domineering father’s home and try her luck with a real band. She relocated to Atlanta, Georgia with nothing but her tiny keyboard and $750 to her name. But she didn’t need money. She had talent on her side. Plus, fate was calling her name—though it wouldn’t always be for good things.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes as a young girlVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

7. She Answered The Call

As it happens, Lopes arrived in Atlanta at precisely the right moment. The famed music producer, Ian Burke, and his client, Crystal Jones, had just come up with the idea for a “tomboyish” girl group. When they put out an open casting call for two girls to join Jones, they had no idea they would find a true superstar in the making.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes as a young girlVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

8. She Made The Cut

Out of the countless hopefuls who auditioned for the as-yet nameless girl group, two people stood out. One of them was Tionne Watkins and the other was, of course, the promising Lisa Lopes. Along with Jones, Watkins and Lopes formed the band “2nd Nature”. But one of them didn’t belong in the group to begin with and Lopes would let her know it.

TLC  at  Grammy AwardsEverett Collection, Shutterstock

9. She Got The Chance Of A Lifetime

With the right band behind her, Lopes prepared for the success and fame she knew she was destined to have. All she needed was the right opportunity. That opportunity came just a short while later when fellow bandmate, Watkins, managed to arrange a once-in-a-lifetime audition. Lopes was about to show her stuff to the mega producer, LA Reid.

L.A. Reid photo in blue suitAlison Martin, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Factinate

Sign up to our newsletter.

History’s most fascinating stories and darkest secrets, delivered to your inbox daily. Making distraction rewarding since 2017.

Thank you!
Error, please try again.

10. She Changed Her Band’s Name

Before their big audition, “2nd Nature” felt that something just wasn’t sitting right. The name of the band didn’t seem to fit the band’s image and musical talents. In a stroke of genius, they renamed themselves “TLC” using the first initial of each band member’s first name. That didn’t mean everyone was going to stay.

TLC band sitting on couchVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

Advertisement

11. She Impressed The Producer

With the right name and the right moves, “TLC” prepared for their big audition. Unsurprisingly, Lopes floored Reid with her talent. As did Watkins. But Jones, the founding member of the group, clearly lacked Lopes’ musical gifts. What happened next was just the first in a string of catfights between the members of TLC.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes sitting on bedVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

12. She Kicked Out A Band Member

With a standout audition, Lopes secured her position with LA Reid. But, as Watkins recounted years later, “Unfortunately, when we performed for Pebbles, she didn’t like Crystal, so Lisa and me had to kick her out”. The whole situation was “awkward” but Lopes knew what she had to do if she wanted to make the music that was in her heart.

Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes in white and big green hatSteve Eichner, Getty Images

13. She Found Her Third Musketeer

Lopes and Watkins immediately signed a deal with Reid’s production company, all but guaranteeing that Lopes would become a superstar. Shortly after kicking Jones out of the group, they found their third musketeer, Rozonda Thomas. They had all of the ingredients they needed to turn their girl group into a chart-topping sensation.

TLC  band  at an eventEverett Collection, Shutterstock

14. She Had A Pretty Left Eye

Lopes and Watkins had gotten rid of Crystal Jones, but they wanted to keep the name of the band. As such, they had to come up with nicknames that would make sense. This is when Lopes got her famous nickname “Left Eye”. Apparently, she had chosen the name because one of her friends, Michael Bivins, had once told her that he was “attracted to her because of her left eye”.

She leaned into it.

TLC Rozonda Chili Thomas, Tionne T-Boz Watkins & Lisa Left Eye LopesVH1, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story (2013)

15. She Wore “Rubber” Glasses

Bivins believed that Lopes’ left eye was slightly more slanted than her right eye, making it more beautiful. With a flare for the dramatic, Lopes decided to accentuate her beautifully slanted left eye at every opportunity. She began wearing a trademark pair of glasses with the right lens covered by a…well, a rubber contraceptive.

TLC Perform On The Oprah Winfrey ShowPaul Natkin, Getty Images

16. She Became An Overnight Sensation

With the new band all together, TLC released their debut album. It didn’t take record sales very long to go through the roof. Overnight, the name Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was on the tip of everyone’s tongue. In just a few short years, she had realized all of her dreams. But not everything was as good as it seemed for Lopes.

TLC Rozonda Chili Thomas, Tionne T-Boz Watkins & Lisa Left Eye Lopes, actresses portraying themVH1, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story (2013)

Advertisement

17. She Had A Drinking Problem

Lopes had inherited more than just a musical talent from her father. Despite being a disciplinarian, he had also suffered from addiction and Lopes inherited his vices as much as his virtues. By the age of just 15, she had already developed a drinking problem. Combined with her new found fame, it spelled disaster. Fiery disaster.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes in white topVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

18. She Began Dating A Falcon

Shortly after the release and success of TLC’s debut album, Lopes began dating the football player, Andre Rison. Her romance with the Atlanta Falcons' wide receiver was every bit as brutal and dangerous as an actual game of football. But without the padding and with a whole lot more fireworks and dangerous pyrotechnics.

Andre Rison and Lisa Left Eye Lopes in brown VH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

19. She Moved In With Her Boyfriend

Following her recent musical success, Lopes moved into Rison’s “upscale” home. With her TLC fame and his football money, they appeared to have the perfect relationship. But that illusion shattered when Lopes filed charges against Rison for assault in September 1993. In spite of the clear challenges, their romance was about to go from lukewarm to scorching hot.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes, of TLC, at the Source Awards, 1999Everett Collection, Shutterstock

20. She Caught Her Boyfriend Cheating

Assault and battery weren’t the only forms of mistreatment that Rison doled out against Lopes. He also cheated on her—and he wasn’t exactly shy about it either. One time, Lopes walked in to find Rison with another woman. Fueled by her addiction, she had a very intense way of venting her frustrations with Rison’s infidelities.

Andre Rison's house VH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

21. She Was Not Planning A Bubble Bath

Instead of walking out on Rison or confronting him directly, Lopes took out her frustrations on stuffed animals. In a fit of rage, she collected a bunch of teddy bears and dumped them into the couples’ marble bathtub. She wasn’t exactly planning a bubble bath. She proceeded to light them on fire, heavily damaging the marble.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes in red topVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

22. Her Rage Fizzled Out

The flames of Lopes’ rage fizzled out. Surprisingly, following her flaming hot outburst, Lopes and Rison managed to patch up their relationship. In a sign of their reconciliation, Rison replaced the damaged marble bathtub with a brand new fiberglass model. That turned out to be a big mistake. One that would nearly cost them their lives.

	Lil Mama	as Lisa Left Eye  in pink topVH1, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story (2013)

Advertisement

23. She Had Hot Shoes

Lopes and Rison once again had a heated argument on the morning of June 9, 1994. Once again, Lopes responded the only way that she knew how: with an intense inferno to symbolize her burning anger. But, this time, she was out of teddy bears to burn. Instead, she set her sights on Rison’s prized tennis shoes. There wouldn’t be much left after she was done.

Lil Mama	as Lisa Left Eye VH1, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story (2013)

24. She Set The Tub On Fire Again

Lopes threw several of Rison’s favorite sneakers into the new fiberglass bathtub. Just like with the teddy bears, she set the shoes on fire. However, unlike marble, fiberglass was not fireproof. As the inferno grew more intense, the bathtub began to melt and disintegrate. Lopes couldn’t do anything but watch on.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes in white topVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

25. Her Rage Consumed Their House

The inferno in the bathtub burned almost as hot as Lopes' rage at Rison. But it was hot enough to burn right through the cheap fiberglass and into the structural framework of the house. The next thing that Lopes knew, the flames kept spreading—and spreading, and spreading. She even surprised herself with the consequences of her actions.

Lil Mama	as Lisa Left Eye in green sweatshirtVH1, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story (2013)

26. She Burned It All Down

Lopes had only intended to burn Rison’s shoes but the entire house went up in flames. However, even if it had only been an accident, she still found some catharsis in the inferno. “[When] I got outside, I looked at that house,” she recalled, “and the feeling came over me like, wow, the house of evil is burnt to the ground, it's burning”.

It was, however, a costly form of anger management.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes in white topVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

27. She Took The Blame

Before long, the blaze in the bathtub had consumed Lopes’ Rison’s entire home. After the flames fizzled out and embers cooled down, Lopes found herself in real trouble. Despite her protestations that the incident had been a terrible accident, the authorities charged her with first-degree arson and gave her a sentence of five years probation and a $10,000 fine.

Lil Mama	as Lisa Left Eye and a police officerVH1, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story (2013)

28. Her Relationship Was Hot And Cold

Even though their burning house of love fizzled out, the embers of love between Lopes and Rison still burned hot. To everyone’s shock, the couple reconciled their differences following the fiery event and dated on and off until Lopes’ unexpected demise. There’s never been any word on whether or not she replaced Rison’s shoes.

Lisa KMazur, Getty Images

29. She Was The Rockstar Of TLC

As bad as her legal and romantic troubles had become, Lopes’ public image never truly recovered from the fire that burned her house down. Throughout the rest of her career, everyone believed that she was the wild child of TLC. The rockstar in the group, with her tattoos, pyromania and penchant for the dramatic. Oh, and the razor cutting.

Rozonda 'Chilli' Thomas, Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes (1971-2002) and Tionne 'T-Boz' Watkins in white at eventRon Davis, Getty Images

30. She Carved Her Feelings Into Her Skin

Throughout her life and career, Lopes struggled with her inner demons. Tragically, they often got the better of her—like that time she set her house on fire and burned it to the ground. Other times, the damage was a lot more personal. Years later, she revealed that she had carved the words “love” and “hate” into her own skin with a razor blade.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes in greenVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

31. She Had A Boy

Despite her many, very public, struggles, Lopes did her best to maintain some degree of privacy. Surprisingly, she kept the parts of her life that mattered most to her out of the spotlight. It’s unclear exactly when, but at some point, she adopted a 12-year old boy, Jamal Lopes. It was obvious that she had a keen maternal instinct.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes wearing a hair scarfVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

32. She Had A Life-Changing Interaction

Even though she had a fiery personality (sometimes literally), Lopes had a soft heart. While she was in rehab, recovering from her drinking addiction, she had a life-changing meeting. She encountered a mother who was struggling with addiction herself. The moment so moved Lopes that she made a decision that would alter the course of her life.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes in yellow topVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

33. She Found A Daughter In Rehab

Lopes’ encounter with the woman in rehab had an unexpected outcome. She couldn’t bear to see the woman’s struggle without doing something to help her out. So, in a move that stunned her millions of adoring fans, she adopted the woman’s 8-year old daughter, Snow, and raised her as her own. But as she built her own family, she tore the TLC family apart.

Lisa Lopes left eye in silver topGuilherme Silva Santos, Flickr

34. She Aired TLC’s Dirty Laundry

Lopes sparked even more controversy when, after the release of TLC’s third studio album FanMail in 1999, she aired the group’s dirty laundry. Lopes revealed that she felt that the group didn’t appreciate her contributions to their success. What she said next, however, had TLC’s millions of fans biting their nails and bracing for the worst.

Lisa Jeff Kravitz, Getty Images

35. She Was Ready To Move On

In May 1999, Lopes gave an interview to Vibe magazine that rocked the music world. Despite selling millions of albums with TLC, Lopes said, “I've graduated from this era. I cannot stand 100 percent behind this TLC project and the music that is supposed to represent me”. Her bandmates simply couldn’t let the comments go without a response of their own.

Lisa HECTOR MATA, Getty Images

36. She Was Only Looking Out For Herself

Watkins and Thomas fired back at Lopes’ incendiary comments with some public comments of their own. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, they said Lopes “doesn't respect the whole group”. They went even further, saying categorically that “Left Eye is only concerned with Left Eye”. The group was on the verge of splitting up.

Drew Sidora as T-BozVH1, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story (2013)

37. She Challenged Her Bandmates

Whether it was with her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Rison, or with her bandmates, Lopes never backed down from a fight. But no one could have imagined her next move. In response to Watkins’ and Thomas’ comments in Entertainment Weekly, Lopes issued a challenge. She had the entire music world on the edge of their seats with this one.

Lisa Ron Davis, Getty Images

38. She Wanted To Be The “Winner of TLC”

Lopes believed that she was the real talent behind TLC—and she was willing to put her music where her mouth was. She issued a challenge to Watkins and Thomas through Entertainment Weekly in which she dared her bandmates to release solo albums of their own. Then, she said, they would let the fans decide who was the “winner of TLC”.

Lisa Gregg DeGuire, Getty Images

39. Her Bandmates Thought She Was “Evil”

Watkins and Thomas lacked Lopes’ fire. In an effort to diffuse the tense situation and prevent it from turning into another house on fire, they declined Lopes’ challenge. They did not, however, stop issuing insults in the press. Thomas, in particular, called Lopes’ challenge “selfish," “evil,” and “heartless”. This was one family feud that could only end one way.

TLC, Rozonda KMazur, Getty Images

40. She Only Hated The People She Loved

Even though she never shied away from a fight, Lopes was always the peacemaker. In order to save the band from breaking up, she reconciled with her TLC bandmates publicly. “It's deeper than a working relationship,” she explained. “I usually say that you cannot hate someone unless you love them. So, we love each other. That's the problem”.

But you can’t love the people you can’t find.

Drew Sidora as T-Boz, Keke Palmer as Chilli, Lil Mama	as Lisa Left Eye in movieVH1, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story (2013)

41. She Was Not Around

In the end, Lopes got the best of both worlds. She remained a member of TLC but also struck out on her own as both an artist and producer. She released her first studio album as a solo act, Supernova, in 2001 and immediately began working on a second album, N.I.N.A. (New Identity Not Applicable). It should have meant “New Identity Not Around”.

Lisa KMazur, Getty Images

42. She Simply Disappeared

In late September 2000, Lopes caused another media firestorm. This time, it had nothing to do with burning tennis shoes, bloody razor blades, or in-fighting with her bandmates. Her family knew that something was wrong when she failed to show up at a family get-together in Atlanta and later skipped out on a press event in Las Vegas.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes in red topVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

43. She Needed To Get Away

News reports began pouring in: Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes had gone missing. No one had seen the 29-year old music sensation in over a week. Miraculously, however, she reappeared without so much as a scratch on her—except for the ones she had already given herself. It was becoming apparent, however, that she needed a proper getaway.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes in white topVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

44. She Felt Someone Stalking Her

In early 2001, Lopes traveled to Honduras on a spiritual retreat. But she couldn’t retreat from her spirit. While filming a documentary, she recalled a feeling that she simply couldn’t shake. It was the ominous feeling of a spirit, stalking her every move. Deep down, she must have known that her time was coming to an end.

If the spirit stalking her caught up with her, that is.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes in white topVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

45. She Couldn’t Stop In Time

In early April 2002, Lopes experienced a terrible omen of her own demise. Her personal assistant was driving their rental car through the narrow and winding streets of Honduras. Seemingly out of nowhere, a 10-year old boy, Bayron Isaul Fuentes Lopez, stepped in front of their vehicle. Sadly, there wasn’t enough time to stop.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes in white topVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

46. She Blamed Herself

Lopes’ rental vehicle struck the young boy at full velocity. Tender-hearted as she was, Lopes sprung into action. She had her assistant drive the young boy to the hospital as she held his bleeding head in her arms. Despite her best efforts, however, the young boy succumbed to his grievous injuries the next day.

However, the story didn't end there.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes in blackVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

47. She Knew Better

The Honduran authorities called the boy’s passing an “unforeseen tragedy”. Nevertheless, the accident deeply affected Lopes. She even doled out thousands of dollars for the boy’s medical expenses and funeral. Somewhere in the back of her mind, a terrible thought began to haunt her.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes in black atVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

48. Her Spirit Claimed The Wrong Life

Even though the authorities had cleared Lopes and her crew of any wrongdoing in the tragedy, Lopes believed there were other forces at play. She remembered the feeling of that spirit stalking her every move. She believed that the spirit had intended to take her life that night, not the boy’s, but had gotten them confused because of their last names.

That daunting spirit would not make the same mistake twice.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes in black top VH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

49. She Lost Control

Just two weeks after the grizzly accident that claimed young Bayron Isaul Fuentes Lopez’s life, Lopes’ spirit finally caught up with her. Once again, while driving her rental vehicle, she swerved to miss a truck then swerved again to avoid an oncoming vehicle. Much like her with her own life, she lost control of her Mitsubishi.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes accidentMax Trujillo, Getty Images

50. Her Spirit Found Her At Last

Lopes’ rented Mitsubishi Montero flipped several times and hit a couple of trees. The force of the accident launched all of the passengers from the vehicle as it came to a rest in a ditch. This time, however, Lopes’ haunting spirit found its target. She was the only one who lost her life in the tragic accident. Thankfully, she didn’t suffer.

Lisa Jeffrey Mayer, Getty Images

51. She Went Instantly

Lopes hadn’t been wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. Fortunately, after a life of heartbreak and fiery feuds, she didn’t suffer long. She succumbed to her injuries—a “fracture of the base of the cranium” and “open cerebral trauma”—instantly. But the fire of her talents still burned.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes's funeralVH1, The Last Days of Left Eye (2007)

52. She Transformed

Even though her time in the spotlight had been brief, Lopes left an enduring musical legacy behind. While those in the music community, including her TLC bandmates, and her millions of adoring fans mourned her loss, they knew she wasn’t truly gone. Her spiritual motto, and the words she left behind still burn brightly: “Energy never dies…it just transforms”.

Lisa Left Eye Lopes from TLC in gray topDave Hogan, Getty Images


More from Factinate

Featured Article

My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.

Featured Article

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.

More from Factinate

Featured Article

I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.

Featured Article

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.




Dear reader,


Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your time!


Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your help!


Warmest regards,



The Factinate team




Want to learn something new every day?

Join thousands of others and start your morning with our Fact Of The Day newsletter.

Thank you!

Error, please try again.