Pete Astudillo Discusses His Journey from Stardom with Selena to Solo Success and New Music

Pete Astudillo Interview
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With a career that spans almost four decades, the multi-talented, award-winning Tejano artist Pete Astudillo realizes how blessed a life he has led.

From the grueling migrant farm work in the fields as a child to sharing the stage and shining alongside one of the most iconic and legendary performers the world has ever seen as part of Selena Y Los Dinos, Astudillo knows he played a part of something special.

“To this day, and I’m not lying, I thank God for all the blessings,” Astudillo said. “I’ve been extremely blessed. I mean I’ve been given so much more than I could have ever asked for. Just to be a part of, as an opening band (for Selena y Los Dinos) would have been sufficient for me and then to be part of Los Dinos. And then, to co-write music with A.B. (Quintanilla) with her (Selena) with Ricky Vela.”

Astudillo remains grateful for the opportunities life has presented him, but he stays humble about his role in Tejano music history.

In an exclusive interview with Tejano Nation, he recounts his struggles as an early musician, along with Joe Ojeda, who would become keyboardist and arranger for Los Dinos. Astudillo freely shares how he failed in a major way during his first attempt to record a duet with Selena on “Amame, Quiereme,” and he never forgets to thank those around him, including Selena and A.B. for their support and encouragement as he grew into a more established artist and performer.

On singing with Selena and learning with Los Dinos, Astudillo said, “First of all, it was super intimidating to me because I had no experience before. I mean I did what I did with Joe (Ojeda) and the Bad Boyz, but I had never been in a studio before. So, everything that I learned…Selena y Los Dinos was my college, my high school, my junior high, my everything, because it was like a crash course.”

“Even though she was a lot younger than me, she had been doing it for so much longer, and her professionalism was amazing.”

His reaction when he could’t record “Amame, Quiereme,” on his first attempt: “I was so, so nervous. You know what? That’s not true. I was so confident at first. I was like, ‘I got this. I got this. Everybody move back. Pete Astudillo walking in the studio.’ The thing is I was really pumped. I was so excited I was going to sing a duet with her. And then, I failed horribly. I was out of tune. My timing was horrible. And then the more they would tell me, the more nervous I would get and the worse it would get.”

Astudillo recalls his disappointment in himself for letting the others down, but he also recalls the kindness of Selena.

“I think I literally went into the bus and cried,” he said. “Of course, Selena came up to the bus and said, ‘You know you’re going to do great. You’ve just got to rehearse.’ And, she was so encouraging.”

“And then, I went back in, and I did my job,” Astudillo said, upon returning to the studio for another attempt at recording what would become a popular duet for Selena y Los Dinos.

Selena — Quiereme, Amame feat. Pete Astudillo
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On dancing with Selena on stage: “Of course, Selena was an incredible dancer, so we never really rehearsed,” Astudillo said. “She would do something and then I kind of would look at her and I would kind of just join in. And A.B. would kind of do the same thing…So, I was just really reading what she was doing, and I would be following her, and then it got to a point to where we knew each other so well. The chemistry was there. It just became organic, I guess you would call it.”

Astudillo jokes that Selena would actually lead him as they danced and he would follow where she took him.

As Selenna y Los Dinos skyrocketed in popularity, Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla, who was also Astudillo’s manager, decided it was time for him to try it on his own as a solo artist.

“The thing is, a lot of people don’t know this or realize this, but I started recording solo stuff when I was still with Selena y Los Dinos,” he said.

Despite Hollywood’s portrayal in the Selena movie and series, he was actually reluctant to venture out on his own when Abraham suggested it in the latter part of 1993 and early 1994.

“Truth be told, I was so happy there,” Astudillo said of his role with Los Dinos. “I didn’t want to go anywhere. Things were going great. The shows were amazing.”

But, Astudillo took his manager’s advice and struck out on his own while never losing his personal or professional relationship with Selena and the band.

When the unfathomable occurred with the loss of Selena, Astudillo, who was still mourning his mother who died almost exactly one year before Selena passed, remembers how horrible a tijme it was.

After a break to grieve, Astudillo, together with A.B. and Ojeda, penned the now well-known tribute to Selena and to his mother, “Como Te Extrano,” which became a song of love and loss that resonated with listeners.

Pete Astudillo — Como Te Extrano
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“So that was the idea, to write something for my mom, write something for Sel, but at the same time, write something for the audience. Something for the people so they could make their own,” he said.

The hauntingly beautiful song that resulted was “Como Te Extrano,” and Astudillo said he constantly gets comments from fans who tell him how the song has affected them during a time of loss.

Astudillo freely admits that the song is a tough one to perform live and he has to keep a certain mindset so that he doesn’t break down.

This open, honest, and extremely humble attitude that Astudillo has as he recounts his story is also the feeling and attitude behind his most recent release in his return to music.

“‘Esta Es Pa’ Mi Raza,” is a corrido-like song that tells of the struggle for the American Dream that many Latinos and others face as they struggle and sacrifice for themselves and for their future generations. The song, available on all digital platforms, is not a typical Tejano song, and was originally intended as a personal tribute to his family. However, at the insistence of others and because of the song’s powerful message, will now be a part of Astudillo’s upcoming album.

“I know it’s not a Tejano song,” Astudillo said. “I’m a Tejano, and that’s what people know me for, but this was supposed to be very personal. But, I’m hoping that the message, the message resonates with people. This is a song for the working man, the working woman, the working class. The people that work day after day searching for that American Dream.”

Pete Astudillo — Esta Es Pa’Mi Raza
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Watch the entire Tejano Nation interview with Astudillo, which includes chapters if you want to jump to a particular subject or part of the interview.

A video is in the works for Astudillo’s latest release and he also collaborated on a song for another popular artist making a comeback, Jennifer Pena. Astudillo said his new album won’t stray from the Tejano roots for which he’s known, but will also include cumbias, and even conjunto.

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