Abraham Quintanilla

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Abraham Quintanilla Jr.
Birth nameAbraham Quintanilla Jr.
Also known asAbraham, Abraham Quintanilla
Born (1939-02-20) February 20, 1939 (age 80)
Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S.
OriginCorpus Christi, Texas
GenresPolka, doo-wop, Tejano
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, record producer
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1957–present
LabelsFalcon, J.W. Fox, Bernal, Epitome
Associated actsLos Dinos
Selena y Los Dinos
Selena (daughter)
A.B. Quintanilla (son)
Suzette Quintanilla (daughter)
Chris Pérez (widower son-in-law)
Robert Quintanillo Olivores

Abraham Quintanilla Jr. (born February 20, 1939)[1] is an American singer-songwriter and record producer. He was the father of singer Selena, and executively produced the 1997 biographical film about her life.

Early life[edit]

Quintanilla was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, the middle child of six siblings, to Abraham Gonzalez Quintanilla Sr. and Maria Tereza Calderon. Quintanilla's parents worked along the Rio Grande in Texas, gleaning vegetables, cotton and fruits.[1] When he was fourteen, his parents left the Catholic Church and converted to Jehovah's Witnesses. Quintanilla's mother began to go door-to-door to preach to other Hispanic and Latino Americans.[2] Quintanilla's father later worked as an autobody repairman.[3]

Quintanilla attended Roy Miller High School and soon joined with two of his friends to form a high school choir called the Gumdrops.[2] Abraham dropped out of Roy Miller High School when he was a senior to pursue his career.[4] Maria strongly disapproved of her son's desire to become a professional singer.[3]


Early years[edit]

In 1957, Quintanilla encountered his alumni classmates performing at a high school dance.[4] He immediately recognized their voices and was hooked. While learning that one of their lead vocalist was quitting the band: Abraham immediately approached the "Dinos" and asked if he could be part of their singing group.[4] The group decided to give Abraham a chance by inviting him to practice with them. Quintanilla's request was granted when the Dinos crowned him as the "third voice". During the beginning stages of the group, the Dinos were paid thirty United States dollars in booked venues. Los Dinos cited their musical inspirations as having originated from the musical ensembles The Four Aces and Mills Brothers.[4] In 1959, Los Dinos released their first single "So Hard to Tell" on the J.W. Fox label that was owned by Johnny Herrera. The single became a classic hit on KEYS and helped the band to obtain bookings at sock hops in Corpus, Kingsville and Woodsboro, Texas.

The Dino's second single "Give Me One Chance", was composed by Teddy Randazzo who had written songs for Little Anthony and the Imperials, sold 150,000 copiesa. The single began getting extensive airplay throughout south Texas and on KILT-FM.[5] Los Dino's popularity prosper after the record sales of "Give Me One Chance". The band recorded ten English-language revolutions per minutes and covered songs of The Beatles, Ray Stevens, Johnny Tillotson, Tommy Roe, Sam & Dave and the Five Americans.

The band experienced racism and discrimination due to being of Mexican descent. A club owner, who thought the band were Italian, was surprised to learn that Los Dinos were Mexican Americans. The club owner refused to pay them. Los Dinos were turned down for motel rooms and other venues that were in predominantly white neighborhoods.

The band's next singles "Twistin' Irene", "Ride Your Pony", and "Lover's Holiday" sold poorly. In October 1961, Quintanilla was drafted into the military and was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, Washington. While on duty, he met Marcella Samora, who is half-Mexican American and half-Cherokee Indian. Marcella's father originated from Amarillo, while her mother was from Colorado.[6] Quintanilla and Marcella married on June 8, 1963.

On December 13, 1963, Quintanilla was discharged from active duty and while doing so, Marcella gave birth to their first child, Abraham "A.B." Quintanilla III. Within a month, Quintanilla moved his family and relocated in Corpus Christi. While back, he re-joined with Los Dinos and began singing American pop and Rock and roll music. While performing to a crowd of Mexican people, Los Dinos were told to play Spanish-language Mexican music. They were later hissed and were called "queers". The people at the club were refunded their money, after the band confessed to not knowing any Mexican music. This angered people who wanted to dance and they chased the band out of the building. Local Corpus Christi police had to be called in to escort the band out.[7] The band changed their musical genres to Chicano rock due to costs in creating English-language popular music and the popularity of the band. Los Dinos recorded their first record Con Esta Copa (With This Cup) in 1964 on Arnoldo Ramirez label Falcon Records. The single "Con esta copa" became an instant hit in Texas and had heavy airplay, at the time of its release on Epitome. The single was also played in neighboring states.[8]

The band released three more records with Falcon until they moved on to Bernal records. On June 29, 1967, Marcella gave birth to their second child and first daughter, Suzette Michelle Quintanilla. By 1969, Los Dino's popularity faded and their record sales began to decline. Quintanilla later quit the band, while the rest of the group went on without him.[9]

Los Dinos continued to record music and by 1974, the band had recorded twenty 45s and six LP records. The band then officially ended their careers.[9]

With Selena y Los Dinos[edit]

In the early 1970s, Quintanilla moved to Lake Jackson, Texas and began working full-time to support his wife and two kids. He worked for Dow Chemical, while trying to get over his passion for music. While settling in, Marcella was told by doctors that she had a tumor and it needed to be removed. Marcella and Quintanilla decided to get a second opinion before performing the removal. While visiting a second doctor, the couple were told that Marcella was pregnant. Marcella and Abraham were told that they were going to have another son and picked the name: Marc Antony (Quintanilla). But on April 16, 1971; Marcella and Abraham delivered a girl at Freeport Community Hospital. A woman who shared the room, suggested the name "Selena".[10]

One day, while Quintanilla was teaching his oldest child, A.B. to play a guitar, Selena came in the room and began singing along with her father. Quintanilla noticed that Selena had a gift and wasted no time, and began working to develop her vocal talents.[11] Quintanilla formed a new group, based on his childhood band; Selena y Los Dinos (Selena And The Guys). Quintanilla, with the help of his former recording studio manager and friend, began recording songs with Selena and began building a foundation of awareness for his children.[12][13]

In 1982, Quintanilla opened up a Mexican restaurant called PapaGayos (Parrots) and built a platform for his children to perform in front of patrons, while they enjoy their meals. Shortly after the restaurant opened, it suffered the recession of 1983, and was forced to close. He then took his musical aspirations and re-located back to Corpus Christi, after he was evicted from his home. Selena y Los Dinos, along with Quintanilla, performed at street corners, parties, weddings, and other social-activities that would offer income for the family. In 1984, Selena y Los Dinos were signed to Freddie Records; they recorded and released their début album entitled Selena Y Los Dinos. Selena was criticized by Freddie Martinez (CEO of Freddie Records), for being a young female in a male-dominate genre. Quintanilla moved his children to Cara Records who released their second album The New Girl in Town. The album helped Selena y Los Dinos to appear as musical guests on the Johnny Canales Show.[14][15]

By 1989, Selena released eight long plays on Manny Guerra's independent labels GP Productions and Record Producer Productions. These albums led Selena to win and dominate awards at the Tejano Music Awards, starting in 1986.[16] While performing at the TMA's, Selena caught the eyes of Jose Behar, the former head of Sony Music Latin. Behar signed Selena with Capitol/EMI.[17] He later said that he signed Selena because he thought he had discovered the next Gloria Estefan.

In 1993, Selena won a Grammy Award for "Best Mexican-American Album" for Selena Live!.[18] In 1994, Selena's album Amor Prohibido became the biggest selling Latin album of all time, being certified 20x Platinum (Latin type) by the RIAA for selling over two million copies, while selling over five million copies worldwide.[19] Selena's sales and fan base increased, paving the way for Selena's dream of recording a crossover album in prospective.[13][20]

Death of Selena[edit]

On March 31, 1995, Quintanilla's youngest child, Selena, was murdered by the president of the Selena Fan Club, manager of Selena's boutiques, Selena Etc. and friend, Yolanda Saldívar.[17] Selena's death was devastating to Quintanilla, who began to experience emotional trauma, distress, and depression.[21]

After Selena's death, Quintanilla has been involved in every development of albums, documentaries, and other productions that involves or talks about Selena.[22] Soon after Selena's death, Abraham Quintanilla and his family started The Selena Foundation,[23] a charitable organization which assists children in crisis.[24] Abraham Quintanilla has appeared in numerous television specials about Selena.[25] Quintanilla continues to produce new acts in the music and film industries with his record company, Q-Productions.[25]

In the 1997 biopic-film, Selena, Quintanilla was portrayed by Edward James Olmos while Quintanilla himself served as co-producer.


Studio albums
Album information[26]
Los Dinos (The Guys)
    • Released: 1963
Con Esta Copa (With This Cup)
    • Released: 1964
The Dinos (Falcon release)
    • Released: 1965
    • Released: 1962
Unknown fifth release (Bernal release)
    • Released: 1967
Unknown sixth release (Bernal release)
    • Released: 1974


Year[27] Film Role Notes
1997 Selena Executive Producer
1997 Selena Remembered Producer
2003 Greatest Hits DVD Producer
Year Title Role Notes
1995–present Tejano Music Awards himself, receiving awards for Selena TV appearances
1998 American Justice: Selena - Murder of a Star himself
1998 Behind The Music: Selena himself
1999 Corpus: A Home Video for Selena himself
2004 Noche de estrellas: Premio lo Nuestro 2004 himself, receiving awards for Selena
2005 Don Francisco presenta himself
2005 Selena: Noche de estrellas himself
2005 Selena !VIVE! himself
2005 Selena ¡vive!, acceso total himself
2007 Selena: Queen of Tejano himself
2007 Making of Selena: 10 Years Later himself


  • ^a In his book Selena Como La Flor, Patoski says Give Me One Chance's putative sales of 150,000 may have been exaggerated by Manny Guerra.[28]


  1. ^ a b Patoski page 2
  2. ^ a b Patoski page 9
  3. ^ a b Patoski page 33
  4. ^ a b c d Patoski page 10
  5. ^ Patoski page 21
  6. ^ Patoski page 22
  7. ^ Patoski page 23
  8. ^ Patoski page 29
  9. ^ a b Patoski page 30
  10. ^ Patoski page 34
  11. ^ Patoski page 37
  12. ^ Patoski page 38
  13. ^ a b Patoski page 39
  14. ^ Patoski page 40
  15. ^ Patoski page 42
  16. ^ "Fans, Family Remember Selena". CBSNews.com, October 17, 2002. Retrieved on July 9, 2006.
  17. ^ a b Mitchell, Rick.""Selena"". Archived from the original on July 9, 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-01.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) . Houston Chronicle, May 21, 1995. Retrieved on February 1, 2008.
  18. ^ Sam Howe Verhovek (April 1, 1995). "Grammy Winning Singer Selena Killed in Shooting at Texas Motel". The New York Times. p. 1.
  19. ^ RIAA Gold & Platinum Searchable Database – Amor Prohibido Archived September 24, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. RIAA.com.
  20. ^ Patoski page 47
  21. ^ Richmond page 36
  22. ^ Richmond page 201
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 15, 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "The Selena Foundation". Archived from the original on January 7, 2006. Retrieved January 2, 2011.
  25. ^ a b "Management of Q-Productions". Archived from the original on June 16, 2011. Retrieved January 2, 2011.
  26. ^ 30th Tejano Music Awards (Television production) (in Spanish). 80 minutes in.
  27. ^ "Abraham Quintanilla's filmography". imdb.com. Retrieved January 2, 2011.
  28. ^ Patoski page 8

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]