A career summary.
Roxette – Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle – came out of Sweden in the late 80’s. Their game was pop, their mission to conquer the world. With 33 chart-busting singles and total record sales exceeding 75 million, it seems safe to say “mission accomplished”.
They entered the world of pop with “The Look” in 1989, followed up with the mighty ballad “Listen To Your Heart” the same year, the classic “It Must Have Been Love” in 1990, the über-platinum “Joyride” album in 1991, and their first World Tour. For the next ten years they were on top of the charts somewhere in the world, the constant flow of hit singles and albums resulting in staggering record sales.
Biding their time during Marie Fredriksson’s recovery from a life-threatening brain tumour operation in 2002, the band staged a unique and hugely successful comeback in 2009. In 2016 all the good vibes shared on stages and studios since then seemed to climax with the new album “Good Karma” and yet another world tour, celebrating the band’s three decades in airwaves around the world.
But the rigours of touring finally became too demanding on Marie, so on doctor’s advise she decided to cancel the last leg of their 2016 RoXXXette 30th Anniversary Tour, putting an end to decades of stunning live performances that have touched the hearts of millions during 557 shows around the world.
Marie and Per met in the laid-back West Coast town Halmstad already in the late 70’s, but individual success prevented them from working together until they were finally ready to merge their creative forces in 1986. The logic was simple: Per had the songs, Marie had the voice – together they could go places. Here’s what happened:
After suggestion from EMI, Per and Marie finally realized their much talked-about plan to work together and recorded their debut single ”Neverending Love” under the name Roxette. It became a big summer hit in Sweden. Songs originally planned for Per’s third solo album was used for Roxette’s debut album ”Pearls Of Passion”, which established the new duo in Sweden.
Roxette toured Sweden, playing for 100 000 people in open-air festivals throughout the country. Marie squeezed in her third solo album, ”Efter stormen”, before Roxette’s Christmas single, ”It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken Hearted)”, took over the Swedish airwaves.
Roxette released their second album, ”Look Sharp!” and toured Sweden again. The album was a triumph in Sweden, but a flop everywhere else—until an American exchange student returned from Sweden and urged radio station KDWB in Minneapolis to play ”The Look”. From there, ”The Look” spread on cassette copies to other radio stations. Suddenly Roxette had a hit single in the USA – and the record wasn’t even released there.
EMI quickly released ”The Look” in the USA, where it raced up to # 1 in March and topped the charts in 24 other countries. In October Roxette got their second US #1 with ”Listen To Your Heart”, and toured Europe while ”Look Sharp!” became a worldwide hit that eventually sold 10 million copies.
A rewritten ”It Must Have Been Love” (without the Christmas references) became Roxette’s third US #1 in June. It was taken from the soundtrack ”Pretty Woman”, which sold 9 million copies.
”It Must Have Been Love” has to date been played more than 5 000 000 times on American radio, a feat it shares with “Listen To Your Heart”, earning Gessle some very prestigious BMI Awards only a few songwriters can put on the mantelpiece.
The title track from Roxette’s third album ”Joyride” reached the #1 position in the USA and many other countries in May. The ”Join The Joyride” World Tour started in Helsinki on September 4. The band would play 108 concerts in Europe, Australia, USA and South America, before the final show in Stockholm on July 1992. By then more than 1,7 million people had seen Roxette on stage with ”Joyride” passing the 11 million-mark.
Roxette release their fourth album ”Tourism”, a collection of live tracks and on-the-spot recordings made during the world tour. With ”How Do You Do!” dominating the international airwaves, Marie picked up her solo career with her fourth Swedish album, the platinum selling ”Den ständiga resan”.
As the first non-English speaking band ever, Roxette played MTV Unplugged. ”Almost Unreal” from the ”Super Mario Bros” movie soundtrack, was a summer hit in Europe.
Roxette’s fifth album ”Crash! Boom! Bang!” including hit singles like ”Sleeping In My Car”, ”Run To You”, “Vulnerable”, ”Fireworks” and the title track, was released before the group kicked off their second World Tour with 47 shows in Europe during the autumn.
The tour continued to South Africa, where Roxette were greeted by 130 000 South African fans. Australia, South East Asia and Japan before they made a unique appearance at Beijing’s Capitol Indoor Stadium, with 11 000 Chinese fans going absolutely crazy. In South America, the Rox temperature again reached fever pitch during their live shows.
In the autumn the greatest hits-collection ”Don’t Bore Us – Get To The Chorus” quickly became another multi-million seller.
A Spanish-language album of Roxette’s greatest ballads, ”Baladas En Espanol, became a platinum selling record in Spain and achieved gold status in Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico and Chile.
Following a well-deserved break, Roxette took off to El Cortijo in Spain to start recordings for their sixth album of new material. ”Have A Nice Day” was received as an innovative and fresh comeback with the first single ”Wish I Could Fly” becoming a major European hit, soon to be followed by future Roxette classics like “Anyone”, “Stars” and “Salvation”. Per and Marie spent the best part of 1999 promoting the record around the world.
Per and Marie traveled to the legendary California hotel Madonna Inn to shoot an inspired Jonas Åkerlund directed video for the first single, “The Centre Of The Heart” from the new Roxette album “Room Service” “Real Sugar” and “Milk And Toast And Honey” will become huge radio hits in Europe and South America during the year. In the autumn Roxette returned to the stage for yet another successful European tour, ending in front of 11 500 cheering and singing fans in Gothenburg.
The new single “A Thing About You” was supposed to be backed with a Roxette tour, but on September 11 Marie Fredriksson collapsed at home. Diagnosed with brain tumour Marie withdrew to regain her health after a successful operation. Only weeks later she had gathered enough strength to record vocals on the upcoming Roxette single “Opportunity Nox”.
Due to Marie’s recovery, Roxette kept a low profile. Marie recorded her first English solo album, “The Change”, in 2004. In 2003, Per reached new commercial and artistic heights with the 400 000+ selling “Mazarin”, his first Swedish solo album in 18 years.
In 2004, the 25th anniversary reunion of Per’s powerpop band Gyllene Tider managed to break all previous records. With more than half a million tickets sold in Sweden alone the band became the year’s second biggest tour in Europe. The new GT album was also a great success, shipping more than 200 000 copies.
Not resting on his laurels, Per released his solo and platinum selling double album “Son Of A Plumber” in November 2005. The same month Per and Marie was reunited on stage in London to pick up a BMI Award for the 4 000 000th US airing of “It Must Have Been Love.
During 2006 Roxette fans got a treat when the duo celebrated their 20th anniversary with the 4 cd and 2 dvd set ”The RoxBox”, containing the group’s biggest hits as well as unreleased material, demos, live recordings and videos.
With Roxette still on hold, Marie devoted time for her art while regaining her strength. Having received favourable reviews for her first exhibition, a series of coal drawings titled “After The Change” in 2005, she returned three years later with a series of colour drawings called “A Table In The Sun”. She also released two albums; ”Min bäste vän”, with versions of her favourite Swedish songs, as well as ”Tid för tystnad”, a collection of her own ballads. She also performed ”Where Your Love Lies”, the main theme for the blockbuster movie ”Arn – The Kingdom At Road’s End”.
Meanwhile Per kept himself busy by recording and touring around his Swedish solo album ”En händig man” in 2007, followed by the 80’s tinged pop collection ”Party Crasher” the year after.
In the spring of 2009 Per embarked on a solo tour of Europe, mixing solo material with Roxette classics. After eight years fans could finally witness Marie Fredriksson reunite with Per on stage when they performed ”It Must Have Been Love” and ”The Look” in Amsterdam.
Shortly thereafter the dreams of many loyal “Roxers” came true when the group announced that they would reunite for the 25th Anniversary ”Night of the Proms” tour in Holland, Belgium and Germany during 42 shows in the autumn of 2009. The tour was a magnificent success with more than 600 000 ecstatic Europeans experiencing the group’s comeback in a neo-classic surrounding with a full symphony orchestra. The tour worked so well that Roxette started to look ahead; Per wrote material for a comeback album and new shows were planned for 2010.
On June 18 2010 Roxette performed live at the Crown Princess Victoria’s and Daniel Westling’s wedding party at the Royal Castle in Stockholm. A few weeks later the band kicked off their summer tour at the Hotel Tylösand, standing in front of a Swedish audience for the first time since 2001. Six shows in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Russia proved that Marie was strong enough to tour on a larger scale. Roxette was finally back in the game.
In February 2011 Roxette kicked off their comeback World Tour in Russia and released “Charm School”, their first album of new material since “Room Service” in 2001. The tour was originally scheduled to end that summer, but more dates were constantly added—first for the autumn of 2011 and then for 2012—until the whole thing was renamed ”The Never Ending Tour”.
It was soon clear that the “new” Roxette were in top shape. Egged on by the phenomenal response, Roxette put on an amazing live show with Marie belting out powerful vocals like every show was her last. The musicians was also on fire with the right combination of joy, playfulness and superb musicianship. In between shows, airports, and backstage meet ‘n greets, Roxette recorded and released the new album “Travelling” in 2012.
When they reached their final show in Mexico City in September 2012, Roxette had performed their classic songs in front of a staggering 1,5 million singing, screaming and crying people in 46 countries since the tour started 18 months earlier.
Resuming touring in the autumn of 2014, the idea now was to make shorter tours to keep everybody’s energies up. They visited Russia, Australia and spent the summer of 2015 on a massive European summer tour.
But finally the demands of life on the road became too much for Marie Fredriksson. Roxette were supposed to start the last leg of their 30th Anniversary Tour in the summer of 2016, when she was advised by her doctors to withdraw from touring completely. As a consequence all the summer shows were cancelled, making Roxette’s February 8 performance at the Grand Arena in Cape Town the final show of a magnificent live career.
In the summer of 2016 Roxette released their tenth album “Good Karma”, with singles “It Just Happens”, “Some Other Summer” and “Why Don’t You Bring Me Flowers” again getting the band back on the world’s airwaves.
On December 9, 2019 Marie Fredriksson’s 17 year long battle with cancer came to an end and she sadly passed away. Her death caused a massive wave of grief and tributes allover the world by fans, media and fellow artists. Per Gessle wrote these words December 10, 2019:
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 in the most beautiful colours. You were the most wonderful friend for over 40 years. I’m proud, honoured and happy to have been able to share so much of your time, talent, warmth, generosity and sense of humour. All my love goes out to you and your family. Things will never be the same.
Roxette’s legacy is forever written in the hearts of generations of music lovers around the globe; past, present and those to come.