Roxette singer, Marie Fredriksson, has died. Picture: AP
Roxette singer, Marie Fredriksson, has died. Picture: AP

Roxette singer dead at 61

Roxette singer Marie Fredriksson, the powerhouse voice behind the iconic power ballads, It Must Have Been Love and Listen to Your Heart, has died aged 61.

The Swedish star, alongside bandmate Per Gessle, achieved global success in the 1980s and 1990s with a slew of hits including The Look, Joyride, Spending My Time, Fading Like a Flower and Dangerous.

A statement from Fredriksson's manager said the singer had died on Tuesday (local time) "following a 17-year long battle with cancer".

Roxette in their heyday. Picture: Supplied
Roxette in their heyday. Picture: Supplied

The Swedish band, who sold a staggering 75 million albums worldwide, were hugely popular in Australia, where they scored three number ones, The Look, It Must Have Been Love and Joyride.

They were also frequent - and popular - visitors to our shores, last touring the country in 2015.


The singer is survived by husband, music producer, Mikael Bolyos, 62, and their two children, daughter Ines Josefin, 26, and son Oscar, 23.

The family said in a statement to Expressen, a newspaper in her native Sweden: "It is with great sadness that we have to announce that one of our biggest and most beloved artists is gone".

Fredriksson's Roxette bandmate Per Gessle paid tribute to his musical partner, saying "things will never be the same".

Roxette perform in Brisbane in 2012. Picture: Adam Smith
Roxette perform in Brisbane in 2012. Picture: Adam Smith

"Time goes by so quickly. It's not that long ago we spent days and nights in my tiny apartment listening to music we loved, sharing impossible dreams," he said.

"And what a dream we eventually got to share!

"Thank you Marie, thank you for EVERYTHING.


"You were a truly unique musician, a singer on a level we will hardly ever experience again. "You painted my black and white songs with the most beautiful colours."

He also said: "You were a wonderful friend for over 40 years.

"I am proud, honoured and happy to have shared so much of your time, your talent, your warmth, generosity and humour.

Roxette were hugely popular in Australia. Picture: Supplied
Roxette were hugely popular in Australia. Picture: Supplied

"All my love goes to you and your family. Things will never be the same."

"Marie leaves us a grand musical legacy. Her amazing voice - both strong and sensitive - and her magical live performances will be remembered by all of us who was lucky enough to witness them," added her manager, Marie Dimberg.

"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."



Fredriksson was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2002 after she complained of feeling unwell while out jogging with her husband. She returned home and collapsed in the bathroom, where she hit her head against the sink, suffering an epileptic seizure. After her diagnosis, she was given just a 25 per cent chance of survival.

The singer did survive, but spent the next three years receiving treatment, suffering more health problems as a result of the radiation treatment she had endured.


In 2005, Fredriksson told a Swedish newspaper that "it's been three very difficult years, I'm healthy. I'm not receiving treatment any more."

She 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."


The band, which had been on hiatus since Fredricksson's diagnosis, reformed after she went to see Gessle perform a solo concert in Holland in 2008. Fredriksson ended up on stage and the crowd went berserk.

"She had no self confidence, and said she couldn't sing any more," Gessle told The Guardian in 2012.


The band had three number one hits in Australia. Picture: Supplied
The band had three number one hits in Australia. Picture: Supplied


"But she staggered up on stage anyway - and the audience just died … people were crying to the left and right."

"Afterwards she was like a changed person and two weeks later she called me asking if I'd want to write another Roxette album."

The band reunited and began touring again in 2009, performing at the royal wedding of Sweden's Princess Victoria. They released three more albums, with their final album, Good Karma, released in 2016

They subsequently toured Australia in 2012 and, for the final time, in 2015.


"The unlikely second coming of Roxette resulted in several new albums, and tours that again put the duo in front of screaming, smiling and crying crowds all over the world," read the statement from the group's Dimberg Jernberg Management team.

"During the comeback years Marie was an amazing trooper, overcoming the many rigors of touring in order to meet her fans on stage again and again."

But by 2016, the show was finally over when Fredriksson retired on doctor's orders due to the effects of her illness.


A Facebook post at the time read: "Roxette were supposed to start the last leg of their massive RoXXXette 30th Anniversary Tour on June 3rd.

"However, singer Marie Fredriksson has been advised by her doctors to refrain from touring and as a consequence all the summer shows are cancelled.

'Their last performance was to be at the Grand Arena in Cape Town, South Africa on February 8 earlier this year."


"It's been an amazing 30 years! I feel nothing but joy and happiness when I look back on the Roxette world tours," Fredriksson added. "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.

Roxette singer Marie Fredriksson, pictured with her husband Mikael Bolyos, at the 2013 wedding of Princess Madeleine of Sweden. Picture: Getty Images
Roxette singer Marie Fredriksson, pictured with her husband Mikael Bolyos, at the 2013 wedding of Princess Madeleine of Sweden. Picture: Getty Images

"I look forward to the release of our album Good Karma in June - for me it's our best album ever!"

Recalling Fredriksson's determination to keep performing, even as her health deteriorated, Gessle said: "She's been amazing. I don't know how many hundreds of concerts we did over the last five years and it was entirely thanks to her energy that it was possible to do."


Fredriksson and Gessle met in the late 1970s, but didn't form the band until 1986, at the suggestion of a record producer.

Previously, Fredriksson had had moderate success as a solo artist and Gessle had found some popularity with his band, Gyllene Tilder (translated as the Golden Age).

She had hit ballads such as Faith and Still Smelling Love - which she sang at Princess Madeleine's wedding in 2013.



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Marie Fredriksson’s voice was beloved the world over. Picture: AP
Marie Fredriksson’s voice was beloved the world over. Picture: AP

Initially, Roxette had success in Sweden but, famously, broke the American market after an exchange student took their music back to Minneapolis and persuaded a radio station DJ to play it.

Ultimately, that radio station in Minneapolis began playing The Look, and word of mouth grew. The song launched at No. 50 in the US, impressive for a new act and, eight weeks later, hit No. 1.

The song was the first of four US number ones for the duo with, Listen to Your Heart, Joyride, and - perhaps the best known of all - the power ballad It Must Have Been Love, which was included on the soundtrack to Pretty Woman, all hitting the top spot.

The duo would go on to sell 75 million records worldwide, and record 10 studio albums.


Fredriksson also released eight solo albums, three of which topped the Swedish charts - she scored her first chart-topping solo single in 2008 with Där Du Andas. In May 2018, she released a new single, Sing Me a Song, to mark her 60th birthday.

And though the radio hits dried up, the duo remained a popular touring act around the world.

In a 2014 interview with the Herald Sun's Cameron Adams, Gessle spoke about why the band continued to enjoy touring success long after their smash hit heyday.

"The music business has been crazy over the last decade, things changed so much," Gessle said.



"If you're not in the spotlight people lose interest. The reason we can still sell so many tickets is because we have a magnificent catalogue of songs. We have had so many hits.

"Today in Top 40 music it's rare to get to build a catalogue like that. Everyone is famous for 15 minutes, they get a few hits if they're lucky and then they're gone. Everyone wants the new thing or the next thing.

"But we have this great catalogue of songs people grew up to, got married to. There were a lot of hits, sometimes I even forget how many we had. We had seven fantastic years, 1988 to 1995, we pumped out all these songs. Great times."