(Odyssey) grew out of the talent of the Connecticut-born Lopez sisters: Lillian Lopez (Lillian Lopez Collazo Jackson) (born 16 November 1935, died 4 September 2012), Louise Lopez (born 22 February 1933), and Carmen Lopez (born 12 July 1934), who left the group before Odyssey, as the group came to be known after her departure, was formed.
Filipino singer Tony Reynolds was added, at which point the band became known as Odyssey. The group was best known for its December 1977 hit “Native New Yorker”, which reached #21 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #5 in the UK, was later covered by Frankie Valli. Although a string of albums and singles followed, the group managed only one other R&Bchart smash, the Slave-produced”Inside Out”, written by Jesse Rae, which peaked at US #12/UK #3 in 1982. Reynolds, for unknown reasons, left after the first album and was replaced by Fayetteville, North Carolina native William “Bill” McEachern, who remained with the group throughout the remainder of its RCArecord label output. During that time, Lillian’s eldest son, Brooklyn-born Steven Collazo joined the group as keyboardist, vocalist and musical director. Tony Reynolds died on February 2, 2010 while residing in his home in Jamaica, Queens, New York. Tony worked as an electrician for the NYC Police Department for over 20 years. He loved music so much that he even formed a band within the Police Department.
In the United Kingdom, the band with its diverse musical style had more chart success, totalling five Top Ten hits between 1977 and 1982. One of them, “Use It Up and Wear It Out”, reached number one in the UK Singles Chart for two weeks in 1980. Odyssey thus became the third U.S.act of the year (after Fern Kinney and M.A.S.H.) to reach Number one in the UK despite not charting in their home country. Later hit “Going Back to My Roots” was written and originally recorded by songwriter Lamont Dozier, who for many years was one third of the legendary Motown writing/production team of Brian Holland/Lamont Dozier/Eddie Holland. Post RCA, Odyssey, then composed of Lillian Lopez, Al Jackson and Steven Collazo, continued touring, performing, and making television appearances throughout the United Kingdom, Europe and the Middle East. Lillian and Al married in 2000 and retired from the music industry in 2003. Lillian died 4 September 2012 of cancer.
The Odyssey tribute page on Facebook included the following message from Lillian’s son Steven Andre:
“It is with tremendous sadness that I announce the passing of my Mother, my mentor, and my very best friend, the founder and first voice of ODYSSEY, Lillian Lopez Collazo Jackson, who died peacefully in hospice on September 4th due to stage four cancer at the age of 76… She will live on in spirit through Annis, Anne, and me as we endeavour to carry on her legacy; to continue the musical journey that is, and always was, ODYSSEY… And of course, her magical voice can still be heard on practically any day, anywhere in the UK: When next you do, and if you can, TURN IT UP! She’d like that… Goodbye Ma, and Thank You…”
For those of you who are not as familiar with Lillian or Odyssey, check out a few of their best cuts below:
Odyssey – Native New Yorker
Odyssey – Inside Out
Odyssey – Going Back to My Roots
Please support her legacy and BUY some of her music.