For many, March 31, 1995, was the day Tejano music died, along with its biggest star, Grammy Award-winner Selena Quintanilla-Perez.
Selena was shot in a Corpus Christi motel room, only to collapse in the lobby, in a confrontation with Yolanda Saldivar of San Antonio, her fan club president, San Antonio TV station KSAT reported.
“It’s amazing, man,” said Juan Tejeda, a professor of music at Palo Alto College and the long-time organizer of the Tejano Conjunto Festival. “Fifteen years since Selena died. It was the end of an era.”
For that reason, many remember where they were the day they heard Selena had been killed and watched the stand-off unfold as Saldivar sat in a red pickup truck with a gun outside the Days Inn motel.
Tejeda said he sat in disbelief in his office at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center at the time.
Max Baca had just returned to his home in Albuquerque, N.M., from touring with the Texas Tornadoes.
“I sat down, turned the TV on, and (news of Selena’s killing) was on,” said Baca. “It was a shocker.”
Saldivar is still serving a life sentence at the women’s prison in Gatesville. Still proclaiming her innocence, Saldivar’s most recent appeal for a new trial was turned down.
“You got to pay the price, that’s the way it is,” said accordionist David Farias, who now plays with Baca and the 2010 Grammy Award-winning Los Texmaniacs.
Farias said he knew Saldivar when he played with his brothers in La Tropa F, but said he would have never guessed she was capable of killing Selena.
“That was between Selena and Yolanda, because you have a lot of people working under you (and you have to) trust a lot of people,” he said.
The night of the murder, Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla, told reporters Saldivar had been mishandling the fan club’s membership dues.
“(It was a ) love-hate relationship or something she must have had,” said Tejeda. “I don’t even want to think about it because it’s like going over to the dark side.”
Farias said he still finds pride and comfort knowing Selena loved the music of his former band and said a portion of one of their songs was featured in the movie that was produced about Selena’s life and career.
“(She was) very down to Earth,” said Baca, who shared the stage with Selena at the Hard Rock Café in San Antonio. “You know, people’s people. She was very humble.”
Aldaco’s Mexican Restaurant at Sunset Station will have an altar to Selena by their outdoor mural of Texas-born musicians, in observance of the 15th anniversary of her death.
The public is invited to come by from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday to light a candle, leave flowers or a personal tribute to Selena.
Aldaco manager Jennifer Muniz said actress Jennifer Lopez came down the elegant staircase in the Sunset Station Depot during the filming of the Selena movie in San Antonio.