On the tenth anniversary of the sudden and tragic death of their very close friend and group member, Tionne â€œT-Bozâ€ Watkins and Rozonda â€œChilliâ€ Thomas spoke with Essence magazine to share memories of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and how they are planning to keep their legacy alive.
On the day they learned of Left Eye’s death
T-Boz: She died a day before my birthday. I remember everything. I was with security in my Porsche and I said to them, “I feel like Iâ€™m going to get in a wreck and I want to go home.” The driver said: “Well, thatâ€™s on the other side of town.” I didnâ€™t care; I wanted to go home. I just felt something was going to happen to me, but it wasnâ€™t me â€” it was Lisa. I was sitting in a rocking chair in my daughterâ€™s room after putting her down when I got a call from Chilli. She was screaming. I had just gotten out the hospital from fighting sickle cell so I had to be careful about getting upset. Everybody was trying to keep me calm.
“I remember staying up all night and Patti Labelle and Missy Elliot calling me. Whitney Houston was at Lisaâ€™s funeral. She sat behind me and rubbed my shoulders for two hours, while telling me, ‘Itâ€™s going to be okay, itâ€™s going to be all right.’ Right before that, I remember Lisa played a trick where she went missing and nobody knew where she was. This was the one time I wish she was joking and doing one of her stunts, but she wasnâ€™t.”
On what type of person she was
T-Boz: “I just really wish people wouldâ€™ve known her for the sweet passionate person she really was. She was very creative, too. I remember I was in the hospital for four months and she sent me a clock that she made and the clock read: â€œTake all the time you need.â€ She really put thought into things.”
Chilli: “People didnâ€™t understand how much of a heart she really had and how passionate and giving she was. She might have come across as someone who wanted to start trouble all the time, but that wasnâ€™t it; she just had a lot to say. Sometimes when you speak whatâ€™s on your mind â€” Iâ€™m talking everything on your mind, and people can get a misconception of you. So because she spoke her mind, all of the time, it caused people to misjudge her.”
On their relationship with Lisa before she passed
Chilli: “It was actually very good; we had started working on the last album. We all had solo deals. I was just like, â€œWe have to do another recordâ€ â€” I was willing to put everything on hold. That was the last time we got to spend quality time together before she passed. The relationship was good; she was acting silly again, playing pranks on people. Her death was very devastating for us, but I can look back and say I was happy about what our relationship was like, at that time.”
On their upcoming VH1 biopic
Chilli: “Iâ€™m really excited about it; this was a dream of mine. I knew that we would have a movie about us one day. I want to go for someone unknown to play us. I really would prefer to reach out and find someone that resembles us and who really has the acting chops and who can dance.”
On what they’re most proud of about their legacy
T-Boz: “You know how now itâ€™s easy for Black people to make it on pop radio… Back then it was hard. Michael Jackson was probably one of the first Black people to get on MTV and VH1 and then TLC ‘Waterfalls’ was probably the second, it was so hard. I remember getting flowers for making it on MTV and then a special gift for making it on VH1 â€” that was like a big deal! We had to bust our butts to get on a show. When I say we broke records and I worked for mines, I worked for mine! We had to work for every last single thing.”
Chilli: “From the beginning to the middle and weâ€™re not at the end yet but I loved that we never compromised our values when it came to the subject matter and what we talked about in our songs and how we represented ourselves as women. Starting out as young women, we didnâ€™t care that people thought that we were a fad or if people thought we didnâ€™t dress girly enough â€” we were just like, ‘Whatever.’ We were able to accomplish that with three totally different girls, in a group.”
Despite their loss, T-Boz and Chilli will celebrate 20 years of TLC this year, which will be marked with the release of their biopic.The ladies also plan on going on tour later this year and putting together a new TLC album in time for the release of the film.
You can read their full interview on Essence.com.