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Crime News Selena and Yolanda: The Secrets Between Them

Who Is Abraham Quintanilla? Everything to Know About Selena's Father and Manager

The Texas man helped his daughter achieve her dreams just before her death at the age of 23.

By Jax Miller
How Did Abraham Quintanilla Become Involved in Music?

Were it not for Abraham Quintanilla, Jr., the world may have never been introduced to Selena, the Queen of Tejano Music. 

How to Watch

Watch Selena & Yolanda: The Secrets Between Them on Oxygen and Peacock. 

The Texas-born man put all his energy into developing his children's careers. He taught his eldest son, Abraham "A.B." Quintanilla III, to play bass; while his middle child, Suzette, was put on the drums. But it was his youngest, Selena, who took center stage in the family's band, Selena y Los Dinos.

With Abraham as the band's manager, the group took off. Together, the Quintanilla children performed at birthday parties, dances, and restaurants, which ultimately led to bigger and better opportunities. By 1995, Selena y Los Dinos would make history with their performance at the Houston Astrodome.

The band's rise to success and Selena's death at the hands of former fan club president Yolanda Saldivar is explored in the Oxygen documentary Selena & Yolanda: The Secrets Between Them.

Don’t miss the latest in true crime:
Detective and Prosecutors Break Down the Scene of Selena Quintanilla’s Murder
What Selena Quintanilla's Husband Chris Perez's Life Is Like After Her Death

Where is Yolanda Saldivar Now? What to Know About Selena’s Killer

Selena y Los Dinos

When he was a teenager, Abraham Quintanilla, Jr. aspired to make it big as a singer. He performed with the band The Dinos at dances and bars across Texas — before reality ultimately set in.

With a wife and two kids to care for, Abraham quit his band in the late '60s and began working full-time at the oil company Dow Chemical. "Even though the dream I’d had of making it had ended, it never left me. I tried to settle into life in Lake Jackson, but I thought about music all day long," he recalled in a 2010 interview with Texas Monthly.

When Abraham's children were old enough to perform, he started teaching them to play instruments, with A.B. being trained to play guitar. It was around this time, Selena said, that she began singing.

"I got a little jealous because of all the attention my brother was getting. So I picked up a songbook and started pretending to be reading the words and making a melody. My father looked at me and said, ‘Come here.’ He started teaching me. I was like a parrot, repeated everything and singing what he was singing to me. I guess he saw dollar signs," Selena told Latin Style Magazine

At first, Selena y Los Dinos — named after their father's band — mostly performed at the family's restaurant, Papagayo, in Lake Jackson, Texas. But the family would be forced to take their act on the road after Papagayo closed down in the early '80s, during the Reagan Recession. "We lost everything, we lost our house; you name it; we lost it. The only way to put food on the table was to go into the music as a profession. We struggled a lot to get where we are today," Selena remembered.

Abraham later said that he was unable to find a job working in oil companies and had to rely on family members for financial assistance. He ultimately realized, according to Texas Monthly, "Music was the only thing I knew how to do. The band was the best thing we had going for us. We all agreed to try and make a go of it."

RELATED: Revisiting Selena Quintanilla's Shocking Murder and How Her Fans Mourned

Abraham Quintanilla and Chris Perez 

Abraham and Selena Quintanilla pose together with an award

As Selena's star grew, Abraham became increasingly protective of the pop star. And while Selena largely deferred to her father in business matters, she mostly ignored his advice when it came to matters of the heart.

In the early '90s, Selena began to secretly date her guitarist, Chris Perez, who had won her over with his good looks and charm. When their illicit romance became common knowledge, however, Chris was fired from the band and forbidden from seeing Selena. 

As Abraham explained to Texas Monthly, he was concerned that the relationship would distract her from her dreams. "What if they got married and he pulled her out of the band? All the work we did all those years would go down the tubes," he said.

But the firing could not keep Selena and Perez apart as they later eloped in 1992. 

"After that, I accepted him as part of the family," Abraham shared, adding that he and his wife gifted the newlyweds a house next to the Quintanilla home.

Selena was shot on March 31, 1995, just days before she and Perez would celebrate their third wedding anniversary. In the wake of her death, Perez signed over all rights to Selena's name, appearance, music, and more to her father, according to Forbes.

The family maintained a relationship with Perez for some time, though Abraham took the guitarist to court in 2015 after Perez began developing a TV series based on his memoir, To Selena, With Love. Perez and Abraham fought in court for nearly five years before settling matters.

"Good news! I wanted to give everyone an update to let you know that I have amicably resolved my legal dispute with Abraham Quintanilla, Jr. and the entire Quintanilla family," Selena's husband tweeted. "Now that these issues are behind us, going forward, my hope, and the hope of the Quintanilla family, is for us to work together to continue to honor and celebrate the legacy of Selena."

Yolanda Saldivar's Relationship with Abraham

Yolanda Saldívar on Abraham Quintanilla: “I Was More Loyal to [Selena] Than to Him”

When Selena began to work on launching a fashion line, she turned to others for support in pursuing her dream. Among those included on her team was Yolanda Saldivar, formerly her fan club president.

Selena's father, Abraham, was not as involved in the development of the Selena, Etc. Boutiques. He shared with Texas Monthly, "I was worried that she was trying to do too many things and that she was going to lose her focus."

But Abraham was later forced to intervene in her fan club and boutique finances when he noticed that fans were complaining about not receiving merch. According to the Deseret News, he testified at Saldivar's trial that he intervened because he was worried about the impact the complaints would have on Selena's reputation.

"Selena's image was being tarnished," he testified, according to the Washington Post. "People were blaming her."

In January 1995, Abraham confronted Saldivar about the complaints, which she said were unfounded. Saldivar claimed that the complaints came from parents wanting to receive gifts for free, per the Deseret News. 

At trial, Saldivar's defense attorney, Douglas Tinker, said that Abraham had threatened Saldivar following the discussion about missing funds, claims that Abraham has repeatedly denied. 

Saldivar added in the Oxygen documentary Selena & Yolanda: Secrets Between Them that she feared Abraham. "I felt that I wasn't safe anymore," she said from behind bars.

To this day, Abraham continues to refute Saldivar's accusations of intimidation, telling The Messenger, via Tejano Nation, "She's a liar."

"I don’t believe anything she says,” Quintanilla shared.