Before Spike Jonze made feature films like Being John Malkovich,
Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was a pioneer in the Tejano music scene of the 1980s and early 90s. Billboard magazine called her the “top Latin artist of the ’90s” and “best selling Latin artist of the decade.” She was known as “The Queen of Tejano music” and the “Mexican Madonna,” and on March 31st, 1995, she was killed by her former employee, the president of her fan club. On the 20th anniversary of her tragic death, here are 30 things you should know about Selena.
1. Selena was 10 years old when she began singing with her older siblings in their family band, Los Dinos.
2. Selena y Los Dinos performed at the Houston Astrodome three times, each time shattering the venue’s attendance records. Her last televised concert on February 26, 1995 drew more than 66,000 fans.
3. Selena spent much of her career criticized and denied jobs for entering the male-driven Tejano music scene.
4. At the time of her death, Selena was the third highest earning Latino performer in the U.S.
5. Selena first learned to sing her Spanish language songs phonetically, not learning to speak the language until later in her life.
6. Her first English-language album, Dreaming of You, was released posthumously in 1995, selling 175,000 copies its first day, eventually going triple platinum.
7. Her reputation as the “Mexican Madonna” comes mostly from her personal style. Selena was famous for buying bras from Victoria’s Secret and gluing gems on herself.
8. To that end, Selena had dreams of a career in fashion design.
9. Selena and her guitarist, Chris Pérez, kept their relationship a secret until they eloped in 1992.
10. Selena’s microphones would be covered in her lipstick at the end of each show.
11. Following the singer’s death, there was a dramatic spike in the popularity of the name Selena for newborn girls.
12. In the weeks after her death, People magazine released two issues commemorating her death: one in English and one in Spanish. After the Spanish edition continued to sell out, requiring six reprints, the magazine decided to launch its Spanish language People en Espanol.
13. Earned her GED in 1989 from the American School in Chicago.
14. Made it known that her favorite restaurant was the Olive Garden.
15. Her first car was a BMW, which was stolen and subsequently driven into the ocean.
16. In 1994, Coca-Cola released a special commemorative bottle in honor of Selena’s 5 years with the company.
17. In addition to serving as a spokesperson for Coca-Cola, Selena was also a face for Agree Shampoo, AT&T, and Southwestern Bell.
18. Won a Grammy in 1994 for Best Mexican/American Album.
19. Was named the”Most Dominating Artist” in the 1999 Guinness Book of Records.
20. Named “Latin Artist of the Decade” by Billboard magazine in 2000.
21. The city of Houston gave her the key to the city and in 1994 declared April 16th to be Selena Day.
22. Her last performance was March 19, 1995 in Chicago.
23. She had an extensive Faberge egg collection, owning more than 500 eggs at the time of her death.
24. Following Selena’s murder at the Days Inn in Corpus Christi, all the hotel’s rooms were renumbered. Selena was killed in room 158.
25. The 1997 film Selena screened approximately 22,000 actresses for the lead role, eventually casting Jennifer Lopez as the singer and Edward James Olmos as her father.
26. The film made Jennifer Lopez the highest-earning Latina actress at the time, earning her $1 million for the role.
27. The movie was a “preemptive strike” by the Quintanilla family, to diffuse attention from other unauthorized planned biopics.
28. It was this role that inspired Jennifer Lopez to pursue a music career in addition to acting.
29. The movie Selena is the 10th-highest grossing biopic of all time.
30. The singer’s last words were ““Yolanda Saldivar, in room 158.”