Selena Quintanilla-Perez would have been 41 today. The Tejano superstar also known as the Mexican Madonna was tragically gunned down at the age of 23 on March 31, 1995.
Selena was on the cusp of reaching crossover success. She was already hugely popular throughout Latin America and was getting ready to release her first English language album before she was killed. To date Selena has sold over 60 million albums.
On the morning of March 31, 1995 Selena went to a hotel room to meet her former fan club manager, Yolanda Saldivar, at a Days Inn in Corpus Christi, TX., to recover financial records from Saldivar. Selena's father had discovered three weeks prior that Saldivar was embezzling money from the fan club. When Selena was at the hotel, Saldivar claimed that she was raped in Mexico the night before and Selena drove her to the hospital where no signs of rape were seen. Selena and Saldivar returned to the hotel where an argument ensued resulting in Saldivar shooting Selena in the shoulder and fatally wounding her. Before collapsing in the hotel lobby, Selena named Saldivar as her assailant.
I usually didn't let her leave without knowing where she was going but that particular morning as fate would have it, I was asleep and she got up early to pick up some paperwork that Yolanda had said she had found, Selena's widower, Chris Perez told CNN. I heard Selena but I didn't get up. I didn't know she was leaving. I thought maybe she was going to hang out with my Dad who had stayed over. I didn't even think to ask and then she was gone.
Selena had already sold millions of albums and racked up several awards, including a Grammy at the time of her death and was getting ready to release her first English language album. The Tejano superstar also had her own clothing boutique, clothing line and was getting ready to have her own perfume line.
She was full of energy, Perez said. She was only 23 when it all happened and not only did she have two boutiques up and running but was designing clothes as well as doing the whole entertainment thing. She was looking to open up more boutiques and starting a perfume line. She had so much ambition and the message she would give to the kids about how important education was and to stay off drugs. I mean that was the real deal. That wasn't somebody just talking the talk.
Selena's legacy is still strong today. Her music is admired by millions of her fans and her family keeps her positive memory alive. Perez has released a book about his life with Selena called, To Selena, With Love.
When she passed away the outpouring of love and support that we got from the fans shocked us, Perez said. We weren't prepared for that. So I thought I knew about it but then when this book came out the response that we've gotten from that I'm actually shocked again. I didn't realize that I was putting something out there that all those fans had been waiting for. The response has been crazy.
I would never give everything away, Perez said. I need to keep a piece of her that is only mine. But I needed people to know the truth.