R.I.P., Marie Fredriksson of Roxette
Sad news for pop fans: Marie Fredriksson, the Swedish-born singer, songwriter, and pianist who teamed with Per Gessle to form the duo known as Roxette, has died at age 61 in her native country from complications related to a brain tumor.
Born on May 30, 1958 in Össjö, Fredriksson was a musical fixture in Sweden long before joining forces with Gessle, having been a member of the punk group Strul, then of the group MaMas Barn, after which she ventured forth into a solo career. As it happens, it was one of her fellow members in Strul – albeit one who was only in the group for a brief time – who steered her toward a solo career: the aforementioned Mr. Gessle, and while Fredriksson became a smash success on her own, actually topping the Swedish charts with her third album, …EFTER STORMEN, it was on the heels of having found major Swedish success with Gessle as Roxette. Their debut album as a duo, PEARLS OF PASSION, wasn’t a big hit internationally, mind you, but that situation changed when they released their next album.
Yes, the release of LOOK SHARP! turned Roxette into one of the most successful pop groups in the world, thanks to hit singles like “The Look,” “Listen to Your Heart,” “Dangerous,” and “Dressed for Success,” and by revisiting a song from that aforementioned debut album for the Pretty Woman soundtrack, they also ruled the charts with “It Must Have Been Love.”
Roxette’s success in the American top-40 stayed steady through their second album, JOYRIDE, and the duo continued to climb into the Billboard Hot 100 with at least one single each from their third album (“How Do You Do,” from TOURISM) and their fourth album (“Sleeping in My Car,” from CRASH! BOOM! BANG!), but while their Stateside popularity waned at that point, they remained a big deal on the charts in Europe for the long haul. Indeed, they managed to pull 22 top-10 singles in their native Sweden when all was said and done.
In April 2016, Roxette made the announcement that they were officially retiring from touring, a decision which was likely none too surprising for those who saw clips of Fredriksson during her final shows with Gessle, where she spent the duo’s performances seated and revealed her unsteadiness on her feet whilst saying their end-of-concert farewells. Still, her spirits were high when she offered her thoughts on leaving the road behind.
"It’s been an amazing 30 years!” Fredriksson said in a Facebook post at the time. “I feel nothing but joy and happiness when I look back on the Roxette world tours. All our shows and memories over the years will forever be a big part of my life. I’m particularly proud and grateful for coming back in 2009 after my severe illness and to have been able to take Roxette around the globe a couple of more times. Sadly, now my touring days are over and I want to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful fans that has followed us on our long and winding journey. I look forward to the release of our album GOOD KARMA in June – for me it’s our best album ever!"
In the end, GOOD KARMA climbed to #2 on the Swedish charts as well as the Swiss charts, giving Roxette what would prove to be a grand conclusion to their career. Fredrikssen, meanwhile, leaves behind a plethora of catchy tunes that will be stuck in the heads of Roxette fans for the long haul.
Here’s what Gessle posted on his Facebook page a few hours ago:
“Time goes by so quickly. It’s not that long ago we spent days and nights in my tiny apartment in Halmstad, listening to music we loved, sharing impossible dreams. And what a dream we eventually got to share! Thank you Marie, thanks for everything. You were an outstanding musician, a master of the voice, an amazing performer. Thanks for painting my black and white songs with the most beautiful colours. You were the most wonderful friend for over forty years. I’m proud, honoured and happy to have been able to share so much of your time, talent, warmth, generosity and your sense of humour. All my love goes out to you and your family. Things will never be the same.”