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Twenty-six years after her death, Selena Quintanilla's impact is still felt by her fans, who remember her through hit songs, iconic fashion moments and quirky interviews. Now, many will get an even closer look into her life, thanks to Netflix's biographical show Selena: The Series.
The icon continues to live in the hearts of millions, including her husband, Chris Pérez. As many know from the now-iconic 1997 biopic Selena, Selena and Chris never gave up on their dream of being together. Like the rest of the world, Chris saw Selena’s rise to stardom from a local Texas singer-songwriter to a Grammy winner on the cusp of crossover success. To this day, the guitarist continues to be intertwined with Selena's legacy because of their love story.
In 1989, the two met when Chris joined Selena y Los Dinos as the band’s new guitarist. Although Selena’s father and manager Abraham Quintanilla Jr. had initial reservations about the musician because of his hard-rock image, Chris quickly became an integral part of the group.
When asked what he first thought about Selena, Chris had two words. “Beautiful and talented,” he told 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.”
Despite their best efforts to maintain a professional relationship, Chris and Selena eventually confessed their feelings for one another in a Pizza Hut. Shortly after in 1990, they began secretly dating. Selena knew her father only wanted her focused on her career and family, and she feared that if he found out about their relationship, he would try to put a stop to it.
And she was right. Shortly afterwards, Selena’s sister, Suzette Quintanilla, told Abraham about Selena and Chris, and he tried to keep the musician away from his daughter. Although Abraham forbid their relationship, the Queen of Tejano Music and the guitarist continued their romance in secret. That is, until Abraham finally fired Chris from the band, reportedly calling him “a cancer” to the family.
“It kind of hurt his pride and his ego to find out that he was the last to know,” Chris said about Abraham to CNN. “When things got tense and things were said by him, it hurt me that he was saying it, but I didn't let it get to me because I knew deep down, he knew the kind of person I was.”
But this decision may have been the last straw for Selena. She believed that the only way her father would accept them being together was if they got married. On April 2, 1992, Selena and Chris eloped. Within hours, media outlets announced their union, making the Quintanilla patriarch furious.
“Selena and I decided that the only way to be together...was to run away and get married (at 20 and 22 years old) in secret. What a rollercoaster ride THAT day was,” Chris wrote on Facebook in 2017.
Over time, Abraham came to accept their relationship, formally welcoming Chris into the family and making him part of the band again. But that didn't mean all troubles were behind the couple. Selena and Chris may have looked like the picture-perfect duo, however, over the years, the guitarist has been candid about their ups and downs, even opening up about contemplating divorce.
“I think what it boiled down to is that we were young,” he told CNN. “We were married and together 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We had to learn how to handle that and that was both of us. It's not like she brought up the idea and I was fighting it because honestly I was right there with her.”
He continued to tell the outlet: “We ended up patching things up and making a promise that we would never let that happen again. We started talking about a family.”
But this milestone never came to be. Days before celebrating their third wedding anniversary, Selena was murdered. On March 31, 1995, the founder and former president of her fan club Yolanda Saldívar shot the singer in the back with a gun. Selena’s death sent shockwaves throughout the world, leaving fans in disbelief.
Selena is remembered each year on the anniversary of her death, her wedding anniversary and her birthday. On these special occasions, Chris joins Selena’s family to celebrate the music icon.
“The energy and her presence is felt a lot more that time of year,” he told KSAT last year. “[Her legacy] just keeps getting bigger and bigger and I think it’s an amazing thing and I’m proud to be attached to it in the way that I am.”
In 2001, Chris remarried and had two children — a now-22-year-old daughter and a now-15-year-old son. He later divorced his second wife in 2008. And through it all, he hasn’t forgotten about his first love.
“I’m proud of her,” he said. “Proud of everything that she’s been able to accomplish.”
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