Lay a whisper on my pillow. A career summary.
Roxette – Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle – came out of Sweden in the late ’80s. Their game was pop, their mission to conquer the world. With 33 chart-busting singles and total record sales exceeding 75 million, it’s seems safe to say “mission accomplished”. Except for one thing. It ain’t over yet. Biding their time during Marie Fredriksson’s recovery after her brain tumor operation in 2002, the band has gradually staged a comeback that will climax with a new album and a World Tour in 2011.
They entered the world of pop with ”The Look” and ”Listen To Your Heart” in 1989, followed up with the classic ballad “It Must Have Been Love” in 1990, the uber-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.
Amazingly, Roxette’s seductive mix of romantic ballads and smart pop with tongue-in-cheek lyrics, still seem to posses the same hit potential as when they first stormed the airwaves. During 2005, new cover versions of “Listen To Your Heart” and “Fading Like A Flower” both occupied the dance charts. The song remains the same, indeed…
Marie and Per met in the laid-back West Coast town Halmstad already in the late ’70s, but individual success prevented them from ”doing something together”. Per’s former power-pop group Gyllene Tider was – and amazingly enough still is – one of Sweden’s most loved acts (although defunct since 1985, their record-breaking 1996 and 2004 re-unions still reverberates through the Swedish show-business annals). Marie’s impressive solo career gave her an equally solid platform.
But in 1986 they were finally ready to merge their creative forces. The logic was simple: Per had the songs, Marie had the voice – together they could go places. They sure did. Here’s what happened:
After suggestion from EMI, Per and Marie finally realize their much talked-about plan to work together and record one-off single ”Neverending Love” under the name Roxette. It becomes a big summer hit in Sweden. Marie is advised not to spoil her solo career by making pop music with Roxette. She decides to do it anyway. Songs originally planned for Per’s third solo album are used for Roxette’s debut album ”Pearls Of Passion”, which establishes the new duo in Sweden.
Roxette tours Sweden, playing for 100 000 people in open-air festivals throughout the country. Marie squeezes in her third solo album, ”Efter stormen”, before Roxette’s Christmas single, ”It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken Hearted)”, dominates the Swedish airwaves.
Roxette releases its second album, ”Look Sharp!” and tours Sweden again. The album is a triumph in Sweden, but a flop everywhere else. An American exchange student returns from Sweden and urges radio station KDWB in Minneapolis to play ”The Look”. From there, ”The Look” spread on cassette copies to other radio stations. Suddenly Roxette has a hit single in the USA – and the record isn’t even released there.
EMI quickly releases ”The Look” in the USA. It races up to #1 in March, and tops the charts in 24 other countries. In October Roxette gets its second US #1 with ”Listen To Your Heart”, and tours Europe. ”Look Sharp!” eventually sells 8 million copies worldwide.
A rewritten ”It Must Have Been Love” (without the Christmas references) becomes Roxette’s third US #1 in June. It is taken from the soundtrack ”Pretty Woman”, which sells 9 million copies. (In 2005, the song has been played more than 4 000 000 times on American radio, earning songwriter Gessle a prestigious BMI Award).
Roxette’s third album ”Joyride” is released. The title track is the first single and reaches the #1 position in the USA (and many other countries) in May. The ”Join The Joyride” World Tour starts in Helsinki on September 4. The band will play 108 concerts in Europe, Australia, USA. and South America, before finishing in Stockholm on July 22 1992. By then more than 1.7 million people have seen Roxette on stage. After the tour, ”Joyride” passes the 10 million-mark.
”How Do You Do!” is the hit single off Roxette’s fourth album ”Tourism”, a collection of live tracks and on-the-spot recordings made during the world tour. Marie picks up her solo career, releasing her fourth Swedish album, ”Den ständiga resan”, which goes platinum in Sweden.
As the first non-English speaking band ever, Roxette plays MTV Unplugged. ”Almost Unreal”, the lead off track taken from the soundtrack ”Super Mario Bros”, is a summer hit in Europe.
Roxette’s fifth album ”Crash! Boom! Bang!” is released in April, and includes hit singles ”Sleeping In My Car”, ”Run To You”, “Vulnerable”, ”Fireworks”, and the title track. Roxette kicks off its second World Tour in the fall and plays 47 shows in Europe.
The tour continues to South Africa, where Roxette is greeted by 130 000 South African fans. Australia, South East Asia and Japan are next. They also perform in Beijing’s Capitol Indoor Stadium, and 11 000 Chinese fans go crazy. In South America, the temperature again reaches fever pitch.
In the fall Roxette’s greatest hits-collection ”Don’t Bore Us – Get To The Chorus!” is released and quickly becomes another multi-million seller. A re-formed Gyllene Tider plays on the new Roxette song ”She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”, taken from the hits collection.
Roxette takes a well-deserved time-out while Gyllene Tider makes a historic comeback in the summer. The former teen-heroes conquer the country in the most successful tour of open-air shows ever in Scandinavia. Sales of ”Halmstads pärlor”, a Gyllene Tider hits collection, reach the mind-blowing figure of 600 000+ copies.
In the fall, a Spanish-language album of Roxette’s greatest ballads, ”Baladas En Español”, is warmly received in all Spanish-talking countries. It becomes a platinum record in Spain and gold in Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico and Chile.
In the spring Per release his power-pop solo album ”The World According To Gessle”. For the singles ”Do You Wanna Be My Baby?”, ”Kix” and ”I Want You To Know” he recruits up-and-coming video director Jonas Åkerlund, whose innovative and controversial work causes much debate and interest (Madonna and Prodigy are quick to make phone calls).
Roxette is ready to work again. In January they take off to El Cortijo, Spain, to start recordings for their sixth album of new material, ”Have A Nice Day”. After a summer break, recordings continue in the fall. It is finished by November. Thoughts of releasing ”The Centre Of The Heart” as a single are dropped in the last minute, since the song is deemed too out-of-sync with the rest of the album. It will soon be put to better use.
The first single, ”Wish I Could Fly”, is released on February 1 and becomes a major European hit. ”Have A Nice Day” is received as an innovative and fresh comeback, including sizeable hits as ”Anyone”, ”Stars” and ”Salvation”. Per and Marie spend the better part of 1999 promoting the record around the world.
New millennium, new year, new songs. In the spring, Marie sums up her solo career with triple-platinum selling collection ”Äntligen”. She makes a successful summer tour of Sweden before returning to the Roxette camp to finish the year long recording for the new album, ”Room Service”. This time they’ve decided to record in Stockholm.
Per and Marie travel to the legendary California hotel Madonna Inn to shoot an inspired Jonas Åkerlund-directed video for the first single, “The Centre Of The Heart”. The leftover from 1998 is now speeded-up, re-recorded, and ready for chart action. In Sweden the single gets maximum exposure as Roxette guests the annual Eurovision Song Contest TV show. In April, ”Room Service” is released. “Real Sugar” and “Milk And Toast And Honey” will become huge radio hits in Europe and South America during the year. In the fall Roxette returns to the stage for yet another successful European tour, ending in front of 11 500 cheering and singing fans in Gothenburg’s Scandinavium.
Roxette decides to back up the compilation CD “The Ballad Hits” and the single “A Thing About You” with a tour, but on September 11 Marie Fredriksson collapses at home. She is rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with a brain tumor. After a successful operation Marie withdraws to regain her health, only weeks later gathering enough strength to record vocals on the upcoming Roxette single “Opportunity Nox”. It’s the new single from the upcoming compilation CD “The Pop Hits”.
Due to Marie’s illness, Roxette keeps a low profile. Marie records her first English solo album, “The Change”, in 2004. In 2003, Per reaches new commercial and artistic heights with the 300 000+ selling “Mazarin”, his first Swedish solo album in 18 years.
In 2004, the 25th anniversary reunion of Gyllene Tider breaks all previous records, becoming the year’s second biggest tour in Europe, selling more than half a million tickets in Sweden alone. The new GT album “Finn 5 fel!” also finds the former teenage idols in great shape, easily surpassing the 200 000 mark. Not resting on his laurels, Per ships platinum of his solo double album, released under the name “Son Of A Plumber” in November 2005.
On November 29, Per and Marie is reunited on stage in London to pick up the BMI Award for the 4 000 000th US airing of “It Must Have Been Love”.
During 2006 Roxette fans gets a treat when the duo celebrates their 20th anniversary with a box set; 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. But with Roxette mostly on hold, Marie devotes some time for her art while regaining her strength. Having received favorable reviews for her first exhibition, a series of charcoal drawings titled “After The Change” in 2005, she returns three years later with a series of color drawings called “A Table In The Sun”. She also releases two albums; ”Min bäste vän”, with covers in Swedish, as well as ”Tid för tystnad”, a collection of her own ballads. She also performs ”Where Your Love Lives”, the main theme for the blockbuster movie ”Arn: The Kingdom At Road’s End”.
Meanwhile Per keeps himself busy by recording and touring around his Swedish solo album ”En händig man”, following it with the ’80s tinged pop collection ”Party Crasher” in 2008.
In the spring of 2009 Per embarks on a solo tour of Europe backed by Roxette stalwarts Clarence Öfwerman (keyboards), Christoffer Lundquist (guitar) and Pelle Alsing (drums) as well as Magnus Börjeson (bass) and Helena Josefsson (backing vocals). The set mixes solo material with Roxette classics and after eight years, misty-eyed Roxette fans sees Marie Fredriksson reunite with Per in ”It Must Have Been Love” and ”The Look” on stage in Amsterdam.
Shortly thereafter the dreams of many loyal fans come true when Roxette announces that it will reunite for the 25th Anniversary ”Night of the Proms” tour in Holland, Belgium and Germany during the fall of 2009. The tour is a magnificent success comprising 42 shows, and more than 600 000 ecstatic Europeans experience the group’s comeback in a neo-classic surrounding with a full symphony orchestra. The tour works so well that Roxette starts to look ahead, writing material for a comeback album as well as lining up new shows for 2010.
On June 18 2010 Roxette performs 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 kicks 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 is convincing proof that Roxette is back in the game. Ticket demand is unexpectedly high and in Moscow Roxette outsells both Ozzy Osbourne and Sting, who play the same arena the same week.
Back home in Sweden Roxette continues the recordings of the upcoming album while announcing its 2011 World Tour – their first trek around the globe since the “Crash! Boom! Bang!” tour of 1994-95. The future’s so bright they gotta wear shades…