Her husband Chris Perez couldn't even meet her one last time before she passed away. She was only 23 at the time.
25 years since Selena Quintanilla's death, her powerful voice still lives on. Considered the Queen of Tejano, she was one of the rising stars in the 1990s after winning a Grammy and was the top-selling Latin artist back then. She was moving from Latin music to English music, when she was killed in March 1995. She was only 23 at the time and a powerhouse of talent whose life was cut short tragically.
In 1997, the eponymously named film on her life starring Jennifer Lopez, who took home a Golden Globe award for it, threw light on the Tejano star. There is fresh attention that her story is receiving after Netflix announced a series on her life.
Her husband, Chris Perez, who was part of her band also opened up about his grief. "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 told Good Morning America.
"Out of everybody that I've known in my life, I don't know anybody more deserving than her."
Selena grew up in Texas as a young Mexican-American girl from Corpus Christi. Her father, Abraham Quintanilla, was the first one to identify her talent and formed a band Selena y Los Dinos, which included her older brother A.B. and sister Suzette. Selena gained fame as the lead singer and her family tried to push her into fame that launched her solo career.
Perez was a guitarist in the band and fell in love with her. "It happened on both sides," he said. "I tell that story about how she had asked A.B to ask me, like, 'What do I think about her?'"
He described her as "beautiful and talented," to Entertainment Tonight in 2017. "I’m a shy person by nature, and there was just something about her that she was able to pull me out," he said.
Initially, he was afraid to approach her because he didn't want to upset anyone. "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 told GMA. "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."
Eventually, the couple couldn't resist each other's charms and ended up eloping in 1992 after keeping their relationship a secret for two years. While her father didn't approve, he accepted their marriage eventually. Just a year after they got married, she recorded her album Entre a Mi Mundo, which became the second best-selling regional Mexican album of all time by Billboard magazine and the best-selling female Tejano record of all time.
"That's how powerful she was," said Perez. "There's a few things that could have gotten in the way, but I think because of who she was and how she did things and carried herself, I almost feel like it was inevitable for her to just keep climbing. There was nothing that was gonna stop her," he added. "She had it."
Selena also became a fashionista and opened two boutiques. She was going to transition to English music but before that could happen she was shot by Yolanda Saldívar, the former manager of her boutiques and president of her fan club. Selena suspected Saldívar of embezzling money and met her at a motel to confront. However, the confrontation went south as the former president of her fan club shot her.
The singer died of her injuries later that day even before Perez could see her one last time. Saldívar was convicted of first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence in prison.
"As far as that day goes I mean, for me, I wish I had amnesia for that day," Perez said. "I wish I could go from the night before, which was amazing, to... I don't even know," he said.
He and her family were in a daze after her death but found the strength to finish her English album, Dreaming of You, which was released in July 1995. Perez is still in touch with her family and continues to make music himself.
His late wife is still an important part of his life and he's learned to cope with his loss. "I'm in control of when I want to open up that box of memories," he said.