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How Did Selena Quintanilla Die?

Selena Quintanilla Perez was one of the most influential Tejano singers of her generation, if not of all time. She was not called the “Queen of Tejano” for nothing. Selena was rightly considered to be up there as one of the all-time greats.

She was one of the most famous Latin singers of the 90s, and her death was nothing short of tragic. So, how did Selena Quintanilla die? Before I answer that, let us take a brief look at Selena Quintanilla Perez’s life, her career her success as an artist. 

How Did Selena Quintanilla Die

Selena Quintanilla Perez Early Life

She was born in Lake Jackson, Texas, on April the 16th, 1971. Her father, Abraham, was a Mexican-American who was a singer and songwriter. Consequently, Selena grew up around music, though despite her natural talent, she was initially reluctant to sing and perform. 

However, this was thankfully short-lived. By the time she was only six years old, she regularly sang and danced at school as well as at concerts arranged by her father.

In 1980…

 Abraham opened a Tex-Mex restaurant. He would frequently have Selena perform with her brother, Abraham III, on bass guitar as well as her sister Suzette on drums. Abraham also set up regular concerts at parties and events so his children could play and perform.

Unfortunately, as a victim of the 1980s recession, Abraham lost his business and was forced to declare bankruptcy. Consequently, the family ended up relocating to Corpus Christi, Texas. 

It was at this point that he officially formed the family band and named it “Selena y Los Dinos.” This translates to “Selena and the Guys.” Selena was just ten years old, and it would mark the beginning of her staggeringly successful career.

Career Success

Career Success

Even at a young age, it was obvious that Selina was an enormous talent. She was an incredible singer who could command attention, perform flawlessly, and, just as importantly, was pitch-perfect. 

In the early days…

The band would play regularly wherever they could. However, they did meet some sizeable resistance in places because of Selena’s age. Despite this and undeterred, Abraham pressed on and even bought an old bus so they could try and find regular work around the country.

The demands of music meant that Selena was taken out of school when she was only in eighth grade. This was much to the displeasure of her teachers and the school. However, it ultimately did not stop her from gaining a high school diploma and being accepted on a business administration course at Pacific Western University.

Subsequently, Selina was quickly spotted by talent scouts. And in 1981, she and the band won a recording contract with Freddie Records. They released some singles to local audiences in the early days. And finally, in 1984, they brought out their debut album, Mis Primeras Grabaciones

The band began to gain traction…

Two albums, both with different record companies, followed in successive years. These were The New Girl in Town in 1985 and Alpha in 1986. They proved to be the stepping stones to attracting increased attention. They also marked Selena’s increasing immersion in singing Tejano, which is a popular mix of American and Mexican music, performed to a dance beat.

With Selena Perez’s career gaining traction at 18 years of age, she turned solo and never looked back. Selena’s debut solo album, the self-titled Selena, was released in 1989. It got to #7 on the Mexican charts but failed to chart in the US.

Three singles were taken from the album. These included “Contigo Quiero Estar,” “Sukiyaki,” and “Mentiras,” which were also all released in 1989. None of these singles achieved chart success, but her following releases would change all that.

Her second album drew in more and more fans… 

However, it was her third album, Amor Prohibido, that was especially significant because it went to #1 on the US Latin charts. And it was her first album to break into the Top 50 at #29 on the mainstream US Billboard charts. 

The album went an astonishing 36 times platinum on the Latin charts and sold over a million copies in the US. That made it one of the most successful Latin albums of all time in the US. Additionally, the album produced three multi-platinum singles, including the lead single, “Amor Prohibido.”

Selena’s career was on fire…

She was selling more and more albums and getting more and more airplay. Plus, and more importantly, she was on the cusp of becoming a successful crossover artist. Something that many had tried and failed in the past. She had the word at her feet. So, what went wrong?

Foundation for the Downfall


As Selena’s career exploded, an avalanche of fans came along with it. One of those fans was Yolanda Saldívar, who was based in San Antonio. She had founded a Selena fan club in her city and was keen to get closer to her idol. Consequently, she wrote several times to Selena, offering her services as her fan club’s president. 

Selena’s father interviewed her, and she was given the job. Yolanda started work in 1991 and quickly established herself as a hardworking and conscientious worker. She managed the club, together with related events and merchandizing opportunities, with aplomb. 

What’s more, she also became highly regarded as a trustworthy individual who worked tirelessly and enthusiastically to further Selena’s position. It was this dedication to her work and Selena that would lead to the eventual expansion of her role.

Fashion and Fraud

Not surprisingly, as a young and attractive Latin artist, Selena had a keen interest in fashion. In addition to singing, she also had an eye for design. She began working on her own clothes range and decided to open up two boutiques as an outlet for her work.

Her first two shops were in Corpus Christi and San Antonio. When it came to choosing a manager, it seemed like a natural choice to choose their trusted friend Yolanda Saldivar to take the position. An obvious choice but one that the entire family would deeply regret.

So, why was that?

It was reported that all was going well and that the boutiques were earning millions of dollars. Along with her substantial earnings from her music career, everything looked rosy. However, under the surface, things were going badly wrong.

The boutiques were not only losing money, but there was also a lot of dissatisfaction with how Yolanda was handling the staff and business. However, much more cause for alarm was the apparent question of missing funds.

At this point, there were also reports of missing money from fan club members, of which Yolanda was still president. The alarm bells were ringing. But, despite all the signs and warnings from her cousin and father, Selena chose to believe that Yolanda would not betray her. Sadly, on this last point, she was very wrong, and it would ultimately lead to Selena Perez’sdeath.

How Did Selena Quintanilla Die? – The Final Confrontation


In March of 1995, Selena’s father, Abraham, did his own investigations into the clothes and fan club businesses. What he found appalled him. There were unpaid bills, widespread use of credit cards for personal use, and more than $60,000 of missing cash.

Abraham had meetings with Yolanda in which she proclaimed her innocence and provided a series of implausible excuses. Abraham related this to his daughter, and despite earlier having stuck by her friend, she had to finally accept the inevitable and agreed to fire her.

At around the same time…

Her father claims that Yolanda had threatened to kill Selena. Consequently, Abraham insisted that Selena stay away from Yolanda as a precaution. Selena complied, but eventually, on the 31st of March 1995, she was lured to Yolanda’s motel room on the pretext of her having been assaulted and needed help.

Once at the motel, the subject of Yolanda’s financial fraud was brought up, and the result was that Selena finally fired her. Then, as she turned to leave, she was cowardly shot in the back. Selena was hit in the shoulder, but sadly the bullet hit an artery. She staggered out into the lobby, and despite the staff’s best efforts, they were unable to stem the blood flow.

Selena Quintanilla Perez was pointlessly killed at just 23 years of age. Yolanda was subsequently found guilty of murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison with no parole. 

Following her death…

The album, Dreaming of You was released posthumously just three months later. It was her first English language and crossover album that ironically went to #1 in the US on the mainstream Billboard as well as on the Latin charts. It sold over five million copies globally and went 59 times platinum on the Latin charts.

This was an important album. It is fair to say that it helped future artists like Shakira and Jennifer Lopez to make a similar transition into the mainstream. It’s just such a tragedy that it happened in these circumstances.

Interested In The Deaths Of Other Famous Musicians?

Well, then check out our thoughts on How Did Michael Jackson DieHow Did Whitney Houston DieHow Did Aaliyah DieHow Did Amy Winehouse Die, and How Did Kurt Cobain Die for more information on famous musician deaths.

Of course, a good way to remember them is with their music. So, have a look at our reviews of the Most Famous Mexican Female Singers, the Most Famous Female Singers Of The 1990s, the Best Female Singers, the Best 90s Songs, and the Best 90s Love Songs for more incredible song selections.

How Did Selena Quintanilla Die? – Final Thoughts

Although Selena Quintanilla was only with us for a short time, her contribution to music, specifically to Tejano, will never be forgotten. She was a once-in-a-generation talent of which there were few before and have been only a few since.

Hopefully, now you can answer not only how Selena Quintanilla died but you also have a better idea of the life of this remarkable young singer from Lake Jackson in Texas.

Until next time, enjoy the music.

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