Marie Fredriksson — the Swedish vocalist who scored a string of late-Eighties and early-Nineties hits with Roxette — died Monday following a 17-year battle with cancer. She was 61.
Fredriksson’s management company, Dimberg Jernberg Management, confirmed her death. Her Roxette bandmate, Per Gessle, also issued a statement on social media and via Dimberg Jernberg, saying, “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!”
Time goes by so quickly. It’s not that long ago we spent days+nights in my tiny apartment sharing impossible dreams. And what a dream we eventually got to share! I’m honoured to have met your talent+generosity. All my love goes to you+your family. Things will never be the same. pic.twitter.com/CTegAUGrXG
— Per Gessle (@PartyPleaser) December 10, 2019
He continued, “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 in the most beautiful colors. You were the most wonderful friend for over 40 years. I’m proud, honored, and happy to have been able to share so much of your time, talent, warmth, generosity, and sense of humor. All my love goes out to you and your family. Things will never be the same.”
Fredriksson and Gessle were good friends when they launched Roxette in 1986 and found quick success in Sweden with their debut album, Pearls of Passion, released that same year. International success would soon follow, but it would take a remarkable bit of happenstance for it to come to fruition: An American exchange student studying in Sweden heard the band’s hit “The Look,” bought a copy of 1988’s Look Sharp!, brought it back to the States, and gave it to a DJ in Minneapolis. Soon, “The Look” was Number One on the Billboard Hot 100.
Look Sharp! would produce another U.S. Number One, “Listen to Your Heart,” and a Number Two, “Dangerous,” while the band scored another chart-topper with “It Must Have Been Love” from the Pretty Woman soundtrack. Their 1991 album, Joyride, featured one more Number One, the title track, and another Number Two, “Fading Like a Flower (Every Time You Leave).”
Fredriksson was born May 30th, 1958, in the south of Sweden and began her music career in Halmstad in the late Seventies playing in indie bands like MaMas Barn and Strul, which is how she met Gessle. In 1984, Fredriksson launched a successful solo career with her album, Het vind, and continued to release solo projects even after Roxette became an international phenomenon.
While Roxette’s American success began to dwindle after Joyride, the band’s next four albums — Tourism, Crash! Boom! Bang!, Have a Nice Day, and 2001’s Room Service — all went to Number One in Sweden. One year after the release of Room Service, however, Fredriksson was diagnosed with a brain tumor that required aggressive treatment but was ultimately successful. As she recuperated, Fredriksson began to put her energy toward music, releasing a solo album, The Change, in 2004.
Fredriksson would continue to improve and release more solo music, and by 2009 she was performing live again. That same year, she and Gessle reunited as Roxette, and the duo would go on to tour regularly and release three more albums: 2011’s Charm School, 2012’s Travelling, and 2016’s Good Karma. Fredriksson’s last solo album, Nu!, arrived in 2013.