Monday, 18 May 2009 19:11

Mazz's Joe Lopez: solitude, forgiveness, reflection

Sadness, fear, anger, hate, hope, prayers and joy. These were just some of the strong emotions elicited by our recent exclusive interview with Mazz's Joe Lopez, who is now serving a 20-year prison sentence.

We heard from those angry and disappointed in Lopez, demanding that we stop writing about him. We heard from those with lots of ever-lasting love, hope and tears with prayers for

 his health and eventual freedom.

We thank everyone who has written, emailed and called on Pt. 1 (Mazz's Joe López breaks his silence
) of our interview. There is no question that the captivating life of Joe Lopez - singer, songwriter, bandleader, son, brother, husband, father, military veteran, felon - continues to fascinate and intrigue. The controversial details surrouinding his legal case always draws strong reactions - on all sides.

We take no official position here on his legal case. We're simply reporting the facts in this interview update on his stage of his life.

In this Pt 2 of correspondent Ramon Hernandez's Joe Lopez interview, Lopez looks back on his life, frankly discusses the solitude and isolation, the darkness and regrets, his hopes and prayers.

By Ramón Hernández

“Joe López is innocent and must be set free” is part of the opening sentence on

This link, which we neglected to include in Pt 1, contains many of the facts, more explicit information and details the public wants to know.

While the singer-songwriter’s attorneys, his family and Christina Hernández’s Justice for Joe López organization are in the possession of all the inadmissible evidence in the form of numerous records and documents, the public is again reminded that to disclose any of this information could jeopardize the legal battle to set López free. The bottom line is that all evidence will prove his innocence.

The exclusive interview conducted with the former lead singer for Mazz was to bring his fans up to date on his state of health and how he is handling being locked up for a crime he did not commit.

“I have forgiven those who prosecuted me (and he goes on to list them),” López wrote in his most recent letter to this writer.

If he flashed a big smile in the pictures taken, it was because he was elated to be visited by someone outside his immediate family. He was so happy that he even started hamming it up for us. Those photographs were taken at the onset of our interview and before he got serious as he spoke about his case and before he got teary-eyed about missing his mother and the rest of his family.

Physically, the Grammy Award winning vocalist looked healthy. He is also in protective custody and not in the general population. He also does not have to share a cell and he is allowed to have a crock pot and buy groceries at the facilities commissary. This means he is able to make tacos and cook other favorite meals. He is also now working out. In addition, he is especially grateful to many of the Ramsey Unit’s staff.

“Remember to mention Captain T …, Lieutenant H… and Sergeant K …,” the 58-year-old vocalist insisted. Unfortunately, Warden Turrubiarte said not to list any prison staff or guards by name.

Continuing in his shout-out, López said, “And all West One Row, my friends from San Antonio and the (Rio Grande) valley that are here and especially Fred H.”

Next he started to rattle off a list of names that included Paulino

Bernal, Gracie Rivera, Ofelia Goff, Mary Macias, Mira Champion plus others too numerous to mention. In addition, he even wrote down a list of newspapers, churches, congregations and ministries that are praying for his freedom; plus justice organizations, such as the Innocence Project in New York.

“Most of all, I am highly upset that my attorneys would not let me testify because I wanted for the jury to hear my side,” he said. Had the panel heard his testimony, he would definitely have received a verdict of ‘not guilty.’

When the discussion shifted to what it’s like being incarcerated, López said, “You know, if you put a human being into any form of isolation, they will hallucinate; and even celebrity is a form of isolation because you are cut off … people react and respond to you in an altered fashion. They indulge you, than they resent you for it. They blame and accuse you and use you for being nice. Then there is the jealousy … and the point when evil people want to break you.

“You live behind a glass wall. The more people stare, the more alone you feel. The more fame, the more poison you swallow. Yet I never felt success had made me worse.

It is obvious that the many hours, days, months and now years in solitude have given López a good look at himself. It has elevated his level of intelligence for he is now pouring over law books and other reference material. This was now a new Joe now speaking in eloquent terms.

“Love is the reason we happen at all (meaning we are all the product of the love between two people).” Then he dives into true love in which one understands that beauty is not skin deep and how exterior beauty too will fade, but not that beauty within you.

“Your eyes will puff out. You will get loose in the joints, but those things don’t matter at all because once you accept it, it doesn’t matter at all. I was lucky. I got everything I wanted. Now I’d be crazy to wonder if it was worth it. I’ve since learned that the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. Now what really matters is the truth. And with me, the truth has always meant everything.”

In reflecting of his fame and the glory days, López said, “I’m not a super great singer like people who I admire, Elvis, Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra. And I’m sure as hell no Ricky Martín, but my voice works and I feel blessed that it does. However, it works just when I’m being as honest as I can be with whatever I’m singing about.” In other words, his performance is heartfelt and that is why he filled concert halls and his recording outsold most everyone else.

López also feels a special kinship with the soldiers fighting for our country in Iraq because he too served in the United States Army Infantry, Division 141 to be specific from 1969 to the early ‘70s.

In closing López said, “I worked hard to make a name for myself … why would anyone want to give all this up. I will prove my innocence soon because God will not forsake me and He will give me my day in court.”

The latest on the legal proceeding is that on Wednesday, May 13th, the Grammy Awards winner’s Appeal went before the Justices at the Thirteenth Court of Appeals in Edinburg, Texas. His brothers Lorenzo, Raúl Jr. along with Tejano living legend Carlos Guzmán, singer Arturo Montez plus Ismael Ramírez and Lupe Villafranca were there for moral support; and put their arms around each other as they recited a prayer before entering the courthouse.

On Thursday, May 14th, Justice Dori Contreras Garza signed, on behalf of the court, a 15-page document with the conclusion that the judgment of conviction and sentence of the trial court is affirmed. In other words, López was denied his appeal to request a new trial.

“As a norm, most cases are denied the first time. This is not out of the ordinary,” Lorenzo said. “So there’s still hope. For now, all anyone can do is pray.”

For those who didn’t get to read Part One, we are again providing his address for fans to write and encourage Joe. It is José Manuel López 1399866, Ramsey Unit W-1-6, 1100 FM 655, Rosharon, Texas 77583. 

Pt. 1 Mazz's Joe López breaks his silence 

2009-05-15 - Tejano artist Joe Lopez loses court appeal? 
2008-12-22 - Tragedy In April rocks Rio Grande Valley 
Lopez's brother: 'Joe Lopez is not doing good'
Mazz's Jimmy Gonzalez back in hospital for weekend observation
Mazz' s Jimmy Gonzalez is out of hospital; back home resting
Mazz's Jimmy Gonzalez back in hospital for weekend observation
Tears, anger, fear and sadness in Brownsville


"I don't think you should stop writing about him.  Yes, it was extremely wrong for what he did but remember those who wanted Tookie Williams not to be executed and he committed some really heinous crimes and they still write about Manson and that guy shows absolutely no remorse.  I think Joe needs to let people know how he feels.  Forgiveness is a choice...and just because someone forgives him does not make his crime any less that what it is."
--Aurora Cantu