Out of the shadows

Tragedy has a funny ripple effect. It can destroy, and it can create; it can tear apart families, and it can allow for a rebirth for its survivors. For so many years, Chris Perez was known only as Mr. Selena Quintanilla, husband of--and guitarist for--the most famous woman in the Spanish-speaking world. He stood happily in her shadow as the Corpus Christi Madonna became an icon to an audience long ignored by the pop world. He was nothing more than one of the Dinos, Selena's backup band, the husband who stood out of the way while his wife played sex-kitten Tejano starlet. Then, in the time it took for Yolanda Saldivar to fire a pistol, Perez became what he now calls a "reluctant celebrity." Tragedy made him famous.

That's why his band is called the Chris Perez Band, not Cinco Souls, as he originally intended. Indeed, he doesn't even handle lead vocals, handing over such chores to John Garza, the man with the Top 40 voice. It simply wouldn't have made sense for Perez to play anonymous sideman in his own band. In a way, it's almost unfortunate: The May 18 release of the metal-pop-heavy Resurrection, the Perez Band's debut, will coincide with dozens of articles about how Perez survived the death of his famous wife. He will be expected to carry his dead wife's flame, when all he wants to do is get an audience to flick a Bic in his honor.

The comparisons will never wash, of course: Perez, born in San Antonio and raised on a diet of metal alloys (Eddie Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne), was never a Tejano boy. The crowd that adored Selena will no doubt frown upon the radio-ready material found on the bilingual Resurrection. Perhaps they will even grimace at the album's title, wondering if Perez isn't trading too heavily on misfortune.

But still the fans, who've not yet heard a note of Resurrection (which closes with a Love cover), will come to pay their respects when Perez and the band give an in-store performance to commemorate the grand opening of the Wherehouse this week. The Selena acolytes will no doubt show in droves, ready to touch the hand of the man who touched the hand of their princess. They will likely ignore the fact that Perez has moved on with his life: He's got a girlfriend, a newborn daughter, a rock-and-roll record that features guest appearances by Cheap Trick. He may think he's moving on with his life, but Perez is about to discover that death's only now catching up with him.

--Robert Wilonsky

The Chris Perez Band will perform and sign autographs May 21 at Wherehouse Music, 3421 Knight. Call (214) 528-3790.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky