Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas are performing as a duo as TLC headlines their CrazySexyCool Celebration tour, which kicked off over the Labor Day weekend. It’s been 19 years since the group’s third member, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, passed away at age 30 in a 2002 car accident in Honduras. Chilli says she and T-Boz were in misery after Left Eye’s death, but their record label insisted that they keep working.
“We did not get the chance to grieve properly,” she tells Detroit’s Metro Times. “The label wanted to put out a greatest hits and we were like our sister just passed away. It really was tough.”
The 50-year-old singer remembers how difficult it was performing as a duo with Lisa’s image on video behind them.
“Her parts would come, and the screens would come up, we could never look at the screens,” Thomas recalls. “I remember we performed, I believe at the American Music Awards…I remember I saw the screens and I had to hurry and get off the stage because I broke down. It’s one of those things that time helps, but you would have those moments where it just hits you and it hits you very hard.”
Chilli says there were days when she and T-Boz argued; however, they refused to break up. “We were family and we always stuck together,” she notes.
TLC released their fourth album, 3D, six months after Lopes passed, and resisted recruiting a new member for the group.
“We can never replace her,” Chilli declares. “All we can do is carry on her legacy. I still love her and I miss her with all of my heart. Tionne is my sister. Lisa is my sister, that’s our bond and it can not be broken.”