Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically
Published: August 28, 2013
Chris Pérez never saw it coming.
“All I ever wanted to do was play guitar,” he told the Current. “I never thought I’d be the subject of an interview, much less be portrayed in a movie and all these other things that happened to me since Selena passed away.”
Selena, murdered by the president of her fan club on March 31, 1995, was his wife and quite possibly the love of his life. Ever since the tragedy took place in Corpus Christi, Pérez was the one who wouldn’t talk about it. It took him many years to gradually open up, and he finally did, with a vengeance, with his critically acclaimed book To Selena with Love, released by Celebra/Penguin in March 2012. After the book came out, in December he put out a limited edition EP through his website (simply titled Chris Pérez Project, the name of his band), recorded a full-length album produced by Emilio Estefan Jr. and is prepared perform Sunday at the second day of the Festival People en Español at the Alamodome. He’s living the best time of a solo career that was marked by controversy from the very start.
“When [Selena] passed, I thought, ‘What am I going to go back to? Am I not going to do anything at all? Am I going to go work on cars? Fix A/Cs?’” he said. Instead, he decided to fulfill his dream of recording a rock en español album. Resurrection, released in 1999, was nominated for a Best Latin Rock/Alternative album Grammy alongside tried and true rocanrol heavyweights Enanitos Verdes, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Jaguares and Café Tacuba. On February 23, 2000, against all odds, Resurrection won and the rock en español establishment (yours truly included) went “WTF?” on a massive, international scale. Little did we know that Pérez himself was the first to be surprised.
“I said the same exact thing,” said Pérez. “When they announced,‘And the winner is...’ and they started saying ‘Re...,’ in my head I said,‘OK, [Café Tacuba’s] Revés/Yosoy won.’ And [my band] told me, ‘Dude, we won!’ I’m glad I won, but I couldn’t believe it.”
Not that Resurrection is a bad album, but Pérez was and still is considered an outsider in a genre that regards pop artists crossing over to rock with suspicion. However Pérez was a rocker first, and his success with Los Dinos (Selena’s backing band) had been something that fell in his lap.
Nevertheless, and in spite of a more pop-leaning follow-up in 2001 (Una Noche Más), he was never able to maintain the momentum of his Grammy-winning night and spent most of his time playing on albums for others.
“At that time, I don’t think I was ready to be leading anything,” he said. “The politics [of the music industry] and all that, I wasn’t mentally prepared. With Los Dinos there was a clear direction and we all had a job to do, but when I became the leader of my own band, it was a little too overwhelming for me.”
His drugs-, alcohol- and depression-fueled downward spiral started in April of ’95, days after Selena’s death, and lasted through November of 1996. He managed to get healthy and remarried in 2001, but the union didn’t last: the couple divorced in 2008.
> Email Enrique Lopetegui