Abraham Quintanilla Jr. is a singer, musician, lyricist, record producer, and film producer from America. The late singer-songwriter, Selena, was his daughter. A native Texan, Quintanilla grew up in a religious family. He dropped out of school to pursue a career in music. In 1957, he joined a musical group comprised of his alumni classmates. They went by the name Los Dinos and enjoyed modest success before Quintanilla left the band to raise his family. Selena was six years old when her father discovered her musical talent and proceeded to train her. He also trained his son Abraham III in bass guitar and his other daughter, Suzette, in the drums. In 1981, the musical group Selena y Los Dinos was introduced. They went on to release six studio albums. Despite the fact that Selena released her debut self-titled solo album in 1989, Quintanilla and the rest of the family continued to be part of her musical journey. Following Selena’s murder in 1995, Quintanilla served as the executive producer on the 1997 biographical film about her life.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on February 20, 1939, in Corpus Christi, Texas, USA, Abraham Quintanilla Jr. is the middle of the six children of Abraham Gonzalez Quintanilla Sr. and Maria Tereza Calderon. His parents were gleaners of vegetables, cotton, and fruits.
His parents were initially Catholics but became Jehovah's Witnesses when Quintanilla was 14 years old. His father later started doing jobs as an auto-body repairman, while his mother served as a door-to-door preacher for her faith.
He was a student at the Roy Miller High School but dropped out in order to invest his time in music. While he was attending Roy Miller, he and two of his friends created a high school choir called the Gumdrops.
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In 1957, Abraham Quintanilla saw the performance of a group made up of his alumni classmates at a high school dance and reached out to them expressing his desire to join. At the time, the lead vocalist was leaving the group and they decided to let Quintanilla practice with them. He subsequently became a member of the group.
Known as Los Dinos, the group put out six albums, including the debut self-titled album (1963), ‘Con Esta Copa’ (1964), ‘The Dinos’ (1965), and ‘2000’ (1962). Active in the 1960s, the group experienced its share of racism and discrimination. They were often not allowed to play at white establishments as they were of Mexican ancestry.
In the initial days, the group also encountered problems with Mexican audiences as they did not know any Mexican music and almost exclusively played English songs. They later switched to making Chicano rock music.
Quintanilla quit the group in 1971 and settled down in Lake Jackson, Texas, to raise his family.
Overseeing Selena's Career
Quintanilla discovered Selena’s inherent musical talent when she was six years old and started developing her vocal capabilities not long after.
In 1981, he created a new group, Selena y Los Dinos, with Selena as the vocalist, Abraham III as the bassist, and Suzette as the drummer. The group began singing at street corners, parties, weddings, and various other social gatherings. This served as the main source of income for the family, especially after Quintanilla’s Mexican restaurant, PapaGayos, closed down.
Selena y Los Dinos released six albums over the course of five years: ‘Mis Primeras Grabaciones’ (1984), ‘Alpha’ (1986), ‘Munequito De Trapo’ (1986), ‘And The Winner Is...’ (1987), ‘Preciosa’ (1988), and ‘Dulce Amor’ (1988).
In 1989, Selena put out her debut self-titled album and went on to release five more albums: ‘Ven Conmigo’ (1990), ‘Entre a Mi Mundo’ (1992), ‘Selena Live!’ (1993), ‘Amor Prohibido’ (1994), and ‘Dreaming of You’ (1995, released posthumously).
Family & Personal Life
In October 1961, Quintanilla received the news that he had been drafted into the US military and subsequently served at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, Washington. During his service, he became acquainted with his future wife, Marcella Samora. They exchanged wedding vows on June 8, 1963.
Abraham "A.B." Quintanilla III was born on December 13, 1963, the very day his father received his discharge papers. Marcella gave birth to Suzette Michelle Quintanilla on June 29, 1967. Selena was their youngest, born on April 16, 1971.
On March 31, 1995, Selena was killed by Yolanda Saldívar, who was not only Selena’s personal friend but also managed her boutiques, Selena Etc., and served as the president of her fan club.
The untimely death of his youngest child deeply affected Quintanilla and he suffered multiple psychological issues, including emotional trauma, distress, and depression.
In the years following the tragedy, Quintanilla has devoted himself in maintaining his daughter’s astounding legacy. The family has set up The Selena Foundation to help children in crisis.
He has made a number of appearances on TV shows to speak about Selena. In the 1997 biopic, Edward James Olmos was cast as Quintanilla, while Jennifer Lopez portrayed Selena.