Selena Quintanilla’s widower Chris Pérez reflects on his late wife’s murder.
Quintanilla-Pérez was known as the Queen of Tejano. After initially leading the family band, she quickly became the top-selling Latin artist of the 1990s. She also spearheaded the integration of Latin music into the American music scene. But now, 25 years after her tragic death, Quintanilla-Pérez’s husband, Chris, is opening up about her life and legacy.
Chris said his wife was a positive image for Latin culture and women. “What she’s become, especially for… Latin culture and women, and just the positivity that she spoke about and displayed not only onstage but offstage… I believe it’s her fans that have put her in the position that she’s in these days,” Perez shared with Good Morning America. “Out of everybody that I’ve known in my life, I don’t know anybody more deserving than her.”
Pérez said that when he and Selena met, he wanted to be careful not to make her family, who were members of her band and business, uncomfortable. “It happened on both sides,” he said of his and Selena’s likeness for one another. “I tell that story about how she had asked A.B to ask me, like, ‘What do I think about her?”
”[I was] just trying to be responsible because I was getting really close to everybody in the band, and we were working very well together at the time,” he said. “I was never the type of guy that wanted to ruffle any feathers, cause any waves, and whatnot. I just wanted everything to be cool.” The two ended up growing into a relationship that led to the couple eloping in 1992.
Two years later, Quintanilla-Pérez went on to win a Grammy for her “Live!” Album, taking home the glory for best Mexican/American album of the year. She became the first Tejano musician ever to take home the honor. Quintanilla-Pérez then recorded her first album in English and began opening up fashion boutiques after her iconic bustiers picked up with fans. “You know, we were all pushing for it to happen,” Perez recalled. “Her family, they worked really hard.”
Just when everything was looking further up for Quintanilla-Pérez, the singer was fatally shot by Yolanda Saldívar on March 31, 1995. Saldívar was the founder of her fan club and her boutiques’ manager, who had been suspected of embezzling money from Quintanilla-Pérez. Quintanilla-Pérez went to a motel to confront Saldivar about the allegations. Saldívar ended up pulling out a gun and pointing it at the singer. When Quintanilla-Pérez tried to flee, Saldívar shot her once. Quintanilla-Pérez died later at the hospital from the injuries. Saldívar was convicted of first-degree murder and is currently serving a life sentence in prison; she will be eligible for parole in 2025. “No matter what, you could have thrown anything in front of her, and she would have been OK,” said Perez. “And on that note, March 31st of ’95, I didn’t know all the details, going to the hospital with my dad that day.”
“Because of that, I was already preparing my speech in my mind to get after her for having gone to this place without letting me know until I walked through the doors, and they told me what they told me. It’s just unbelievable,” Perez said, adding that he wishes he could forget that day. “As far as that day goes, I mean, for me, I wish I had amnesia for that day,” Pérez said. “I wish I could go from the night before, which was amazing, to… I don’t even know.”
Pérez said that the hardest thing to do after his wife’s murder was to continue working on her posthumous album, “Dreaming of You,” which was released on July 18, 1995. “For me, one of the hardest things to do was to show up and continue recording on that after she was gone,” Pérez said. “[But] seeing it kind of take off the ground — and then, OK, the work was worth it.” He added, “I feel like the way the fans have treated all things Selena, the album as well, it’s been for me, it’s helped me a lot. She’s still out there, inspiring people.”