Roxette

  • Swedish pop rock duo from Halmstad Sweden, formed in 1986. It featured Marie Fredriksson on vocals and keyboards, along with Per Gessle on guitar and vocals. Gessle was the lyricist and primary songwriter, with Fredriksson also contributing to some of the songwriting.
  • Gessle and Fredriksson met in the late 70s. Gessle was the frontman for the Swedish power pop band Gyllene Tider, one of the best selling Swedish bands of all time. The band released 4 albums from 1980 to 1984 – the first 3 topped the album chart in Sweden. Fredriksson provided backing vocals for Gyllene Tider, and with Gessle’s insistence, she started a solo career in 1983, releasing 3 solo albums from 1984 to 1987, which became huge successes in Sweden. Meanwhile, a major U.S. record label showed interest in Gyllene Tider, and a 6 song EP was released, titled Heartland. The label insisted that the band change its name, and they chose Roxette, taken from the 1975 song by Dr. Feelgood.
  • The EP went nowhere, and Gissle shut down the group. He released a solo album, with Fredriksson again supporting with backing vocals – the album was moderately successful in Sweden. In 1986, their European record label suggested that Gissle and Fredriksson form a duo act together. They recorded a single, Neverending Love, calling themselves Roxette. It reached the top 10 in Sweden, and their career as a pop rock duo had begun.
  • With the success of Neverending Love, they included it on their debut album, Pearls of Passion, which Gissle originally planned as his next solo album. Two more singles from the album charted in Sweden, but they still were unknown outside of their native country. That changed with their second album, Look Sharp!, released in 1988. The album was in the top 10 throughout Europe, and it reached #23 in the U.S., ultimately selling over 1 million copies in the U.S. and 9 million globally. Two singles from the album reached #1 in the US Hot 100 chart – The Look and Listen To Your Heart. A third single, Dangerous, peaked at #2.
  • The Look originally broke into U.S. radio when an American exchange student heard the song and brought it home to Minneapolis for holiday break. He gave it to a local radio station, and the station began playing the song. It immediately became popular, and it spread to other stations. Their European record label felt that Roxette could not be successful in the U.S., but they changed that approach after the success of The Look.
  • In 1990, Roxette contributed It Must Have Been Love to the soundtrack for the film Pretty Woman. Gessle wrote the song 2 years prior to the movie, and he submitted it to the producers since he did not have time to write a new song. The original song was titled It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For the Broken Hearted), and it was rejected by the film producers. As the film went through final editing, the producers asked for it again, but without Christmas lyrics. They removed the one line that referred to Christmas and it was accepted. It became Roxette’s most successful single, topping the Hot 100 chart and ending the year as the #2 song of the entire year.
  • Their next album, Joyride, released in 1991, became their best selling album, with global sales of over 11 million copies. The title track Joyride became their fourth song to reach #1 on the Hot 100, and the followup single Fading Like a Flower (Every Time You Leave) reached #2. It would be their last album to have success in the U.S., but in Sweden and other European countries, they would continue to be very successful – the 7 studio albums they have released between 1992 and 2016 have all been top 10 albums in Sweden (with 4 topping the chart there), and many songs have landed in the top 10 in their home country.
  • Frederiksson continued to released solo albums in parallel with her commitments to Roxette – she released 5 solo albums between 1992 and 2013, all selling very well in Sweden, and she had a #1 single in Sweden in 2008. She stopped touring in 2016, due to health concerns, but she still occasionally released new music. In December 2019, Frederiksson died from brain cancer at the age of 61. Gessle also released solo albums, with much greater success than his earlier solo efforts – 5 albums reached #1 in Sweden, and 4 singles topped the Swedish record chart.
  • Roxette trails only ABBA as the best selling Swedish artist in recording history. They’ve sold an estimated 75 million records worldwide. They’ve won 4 Grammis (the Swedish equivalent to the Grammy awards), and numerous other awards for their music. Their power pop sound from the late 80s and early 90s was part of the sound of those times – soon to be pushed aside by grunge, hip-hop and 90s R&B. Flashback to 1988 and watch the video to Listen To Your Heart.

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