In Memoriam: Marie Fredriksson (1958 – 2019)

Gun-Marie Fredriksson, known as Marie Fredriksson (May 30,1958 – December 9, 2019) was a Swedish pop singer-songwriter, pianist and painter, known for forming pop rock duo Roxette in 1986 alongside Per Gessle. The duo achieved international success in the late 1980s and early ’90s with their albums Look Sharp! (1988) and Joyride (1991), and had six top two hits on the Billboard Hot 100: “The Look”, “Listen to Your Heart”, “Dangerous”, “It Must Have Been Love”, “Joyride” and “Fading Like a Flower (Every Time You Leave)”.

Fredriksson had a successful career in her native country prior to forming Roxette. She was a member of punk group Strul, a band which created their own music festival in 1979. Strul’s dissolution led to the creation of her next project, the short-lived MaMas Barn, after which she began releasing solo work. Her first album, Het vind, was issued in 1984, followed by Den sjunde vågen in 1986 and … Efter stormen in 1987. Roxette’s international breakthrough coincided with a period of inactivity for Fredriksson as a solo artist, punctuated only by the release of the non-album single “Sparvöga” in 1989. Subsequent solo albums included Den ständiga resan (1992) and I en tid som vår (1996).

In 2002, after fainting at home, Fredriksson was diagnosed with a brain tumour. During her rehabilitation, she continued to record music as a solo artist, resulting in The Change in 2004 and Min bäste vän in 2006, as well as the non-album single “Där du andas” in 2008—her first solo number one single in Sweden. She and Gessle later reunited to record more albums as Roxette, who embarked on a worldwide concert tour. She also continued to record as a solo artist in her native Sweden, releasing Nu! in 2013.

Fredriksson died on December 9, 2019 in Djursholm, Sweden at the age of 61 from a brain tumor.

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Roxette singer Marie Fredriksson dies, aged 61
By Mark Savage
BBC music reporter

Roxette singer Marie Fredriksson has died aged 61, her manager has confirmed.

The Swedish star achieved global success in the 1990s with hits like Joyride, The Look and It Must Have Been Love, from the film Pretty Woman.

A statement said the singer had died on Monday, 9 December “following a 17-year long battle with cancer”. “You were the most wonderful friend for over 40 years,” her bandmate Per Gessle said. “Things will never be the same.”

Fredriksson was first diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2002, after collapsing in her kitchen following a workout.

The tumour cost her the vision in her right eye – but after three years of treatment, she returned to public life and toured successfully again with Roxette from 2008 to 2016.

However, the cancer eventually returned: Fredriksson’s family said she had died following a recurrence of “her previous illness” earlier this week.

‘Magical live performances’

“Thank you, Marie, thanks for everything,” said Gessle in a heartfelt statement. “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.”

“Marie leaves us a grand musical legacy,” added her manager Marie Dimberg.

“Her amazing voice – both strong and sensitive – and her magical live performances will be remembered by all of us who were lucky enough to witness them. But we also remember a wonderful person with a huge appetite for life, and woman with a very big heart who cared for everybody she met.”

Hailing from Halmstad, Sweden, Roxette first met in the late 1970s, when Fredriksson was a member of the pop outfit Strul & Ma Mas Barn and Gessle was playing with Gyllene Tider, one of Sweden’s biggest groups.

They teamed up in 1986, becoming huge stars in their homeland with the single Neverending Love, followed by a hit album, Pearls of Passion. Despite their popularity in Scandinavia, Capitol Records declined to release their records in the US. It wasn’t until an American student studying in Sweden brought a copy of their second album home to Minneapolis, and persuaded a local radio DJ to play The Look, that they achieved international fame. That song became the first of four US number ones for the band, while its parent album, Look Sharp!, went platinum.

They achieved their biggest success when their 1987 Christmas single, It Must Have Been Love, was re-written for inclusion on the Pretty Woman soundtrack in 1990. It topped the charts in more than 10 countries, and gave the band their biggest UK hit, reaching number three. Roxette continued to tour and release albums throughout the 1990s – eventually selling more than 80m records worldwide.

Known for breezy pop hits like Dressed For Success and power ballads such as Listen To Your Heart, they cheekily summarised their songwriting philosophy in the title to their 1995 greatest hits album, Don’t Bore Us, Get To The Chorus.

After a brief hiatus, during which Gessle reunited with Gyllene Tider, the duo scored further hit albums with 1999’s Have a Nice Day, and 2001’s Room Service.

Fredriksson’s devastating cancer diagnosis came the following year. She spent three years receiving treatment, and later wrote about the “fear” she’d experienced in a solo record, called The Change. “Suddenly the change was here,” she sang, “Cold as ice and full of fear / There was nothing I could do / I saw slow motion pictures / Of me and you.”

In 2005, Fredriksson told Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper her treatment had been successful, saying: “It’s been three really hard years [but] I’m healthy.” The singer took up painting during her treatment, but surprised Roxette fans by making a return to the stage with Gessle in Amsterdam in 2008.

The band later mounted a comeback tour that sold out venues across Europe, and released several new albums but, by 2016, Fredriksson’s health was failing and doctors advised her to stop touring.

In her autobiography, the singer wrote about the impact cancer had on her life.

“At last, it feels like I have reconciled myself to having a radiation injury to live with. That this is how it turned out,” she said in The Love Of Life. “I have lost many years through the disease. And it is also a sadness to age. But every day I think I’m grateful to be sitting here. And that I can still sing.”

In her final single, 2018’s Sing Me A Song, the star appeared to address her mortality, singing: “The love I had and gave / Makes it hard to say goodbye” over an elegant, mournful jazz backing.

Fredriksson is survived by her husband Mikael Bolyos and their two children.

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