Hundreds of admirers turn out for funeral of TLC's Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes

Friday, April 26th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LITHONIA, Ga. (AP) _ Hundreds of admirers lined up early outside a large suburban Atlanta church Thursday to attend the funeral of singer Lisa ``Left Eye'' Lopes, who died in a car crash a week ago.

``You get a lot of artists out there that try to go with the flow, but Lisa was not a follower. She was a leader,'' said 28-year-old Shannelle Lewis of Stone Mountain, who arrived five hours before the service and was first in line.

Lopes, part of the female R&B trio TLC, died April 25 as the sport utility vehicle she was driving rolled off a highway in Honduras. She would have turned 31 this month.

The funeral, open to the public, was to begin later Thursday at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. The church has 10,000 seats, and police estimated as many as 30,000 people would show up.

The gospel duo Mary Mary was to sing at the service, and a TLC publicist said other well-known artists were planning to perform.

Phyllis Robinson of Atlanta, who arrived at 8:30 a.m. to wait in line, said she admired Lopes for bringing a message of unity to a turbulent world.

``Her music just gave me a powerful edge as a female, and it was just very moving,'' the 41-year-old said. ``She was just her own person.''

Lopes was considered the most volatile member of the Grammy-winning group. She pleaded guilty to arson in a 1994 fire that destroyed the million-dollar mansion of former Atlanta Falcons receiver Andre Rison, her boyfriend at the time.

Rison was among hundreds who attended a private memorial service for Lopes on Wednesday night in Decatur, another Atlanta suburb.

``She was my heart,'' Rison told WSB-TV after leaving the service. ``We're going to let her fly with wings like angels do. She's truly and definitely an angel.''

Lopes, born in Philadelphia, brought fast-paced, squeaky-voiced rhymes to the trio's work. Her nickname came from her habit of replacing one lens of her glasses with a condom during performances.