A Rockapaedia Obituary
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Marie Fredriksson died from a brain tumor aged sixty-one on 9th December 2019 in Djursholm, Sweden. She was survived by her husband, Mikael Bolyos, her daughter, Inez Josefin and son, Oscar.
Marie was born: Gun-Marie Fredriksson on 30th May 1958 outside the small Swedish village of Össjö where she was the youngest of five sisters and brothers.
Whilst Marie and her underage siblings were left unaccompanied at home while their parents worked, it was then, with the help of siblings and friends, that Marie learned how to sing, read notation and play musical instruments.
Marie's interest in music continued to grow throughout her teens, as she discovered artists including The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix and Deep Purple. She enrolled in a music school in the Svalöv Municipality at the age of seventeen, where she befriended students from the theatre department by composing music for their amateur plays. Since no other vocalist in the school could emulate Marie Fredriksson's vocal range, she joined the cast of a musical she co-wrote which toured throughout Sweden, with its run culminating in a performance in Stockholm for the Prime Minister.
After graduating from music school in 1977, Marie Fredriksson moved to Halmstad, where she worked in theatre before becoming involved in the local indie music scene. She formed punk group Strul in 1978 with then-boyfriend Stefan Dernbrandt. Strul consisted of an extensive and amorphous lineup of musicians. The group auditioned extensively for Swedish record labels, but were not offered a recording contract until 1981. In spite of this, they established their own independent music festival in 1979, "Strulfestivalen", which was financially lucrative for the band. The festival was held each summer for three years, until 1981.
Stephan Dernbrandt left the group in December 1980 when he and Marie ended their relationship. Due to the success of the festival, Marie opted to continue performing under the Strul name alongside the band's other longest-serving member, guitarist Martin Sternhufvud. The group's popularity increased substantially in 1981, culminating in several performances on Swedish music television programmes. This exposure led to Strul signing with independent record label Bastun, which released their first and only single that June. The release was timed to coincide with the 1981 version of "Strulfestivalen", which would be the last; three months later. The group then permanently disbanded following a "disastrous" performance at the "Pop Around the Clock" festival, which was broadcast nationally on Swedish radio.
Vocalist Sternhufvud and keyboardist Marie Fredriksson were the only permanent members of their next project, MaMas Barn (English: 'MaMas Children'). The name was created by combining the first two letters of both members' given name. The duo regularly shared a rehearsal space with Gyllene Tider, leading to the latter band's bassist and drummer – Anders Herrlin and Mickael "Syd" Andersson, respectively – becoming members. This close relationship between the two bands resulted in Marie Fredriksson performing vocals on Gyllene Tider's 1981 song "Ingenting av vad du behöver" (English: "Nothing of What You Need"). The following year, MaMas Barn signed with CBS Records International before being sold to WEA International, who financed the recording of their only album, Barn som barn (English: Children as Children). The album was produced by ABBA guitarist Finn Sjöberg and eventually released in November 1982. Although it was a critical success, the record struggled commercially, selling approximately only 1,000 copies and the group disbanded shortly afterwards.
Believing Marie Fredriksson to be "too talented to be hiding behind keyboards", Gessle invited her to audition for Gyllene Tider's producer Lars-Göran "Lasse" Lindbom. Impressed with her voice, Lindbom offered Marie Fredriksson a contract as a solo artist on EMI Sweden, although she initially refused the deal, saying she was "too nervous" and "lacked the confidence" to be a solo artist. She performed duet vocals on "Så nära nu" (English: "So Near Now"), a song released as the lead single from the Lasse Lindbom Band's 1982 album Romantisk Blackout. The album was successful in Sweden, and she joined Lindbom's band as a featured vocalist for an extensive tour of the country. Following its completion in the autumn of 1983, Marie Fredriksson recorded backing vocals for Gyllene Tider's debut English album The Heartland Café, released in Sweden under the band's original name, and in EP format in North America under the name Roxette — derived from the Dr. Feelgood song of the same name.
On Gessle's insistence, Marie Fredriksson agreed to embark on a solo career in late 1983, recording her debut album from December 1983 to June 1984, with Lindbom as co-writer and producer. "Ännu doftar kärlek" (English: "Still the Scent of Love") was issued as her debut single in May 1984, becoming a top twenty hit on Sverigetopplistan, Sweden's national record chart. Her debut album, Het vind (English: Hot Wind), was released in September, and also peaked within the Sverigetopplistan top twenty. The album was promoted by a three-month double bill concert tour, featuring Marie Fredriksson performing as a solo artist alongside Lindbom's eponymous band. The title track was issued as the second and final single in October, b/w a Swedish version of Cyndi Lauper's "All Through the Night", retitled "Natt efter natt" (English: "Night After Night").
Marie's first solo tour took place from March to June of 1985, after which she performed vocals for Spännande Ostar (English: 'Exciting Cheeses'). This cover band appeared on several Swedish television programmes, and consisted of Marie Fredriksson and Lindbom performing alongside Per Gessle and Mats Persson. The same year, Marie Fredriksson and Lindbom travelled to the Canary Islands to write songs for her second solo album. Den sjunde vågen (English: The Seventh Wave) was released in February 1986 and peaked at number six on Sverigetopplistan, selling over 90,000 copies. "Den bästa dagen" (English: "The Best Day") and "Silver i din hand" (English: "Silver in Your Hand") were issued as singles, while the title track and "Mot okända hav" (English: "Toward Unknown Seas") were top ten hits on Svensktoppen, Sweden's airplay-based chart. Marie won the 1986 Rockbjörnen award for Best Swedish Female, and embarked on her second tour as a solo artist.
While Marie Fredriksson had established herself as a prominent soloist, Gessle's solo work struggled to replicate the success of Gyllene Tider. EMI Sweden's managing director, Rolf Nygren, suggested Gessle translate one of his Swedish compositions to English and record it as a duet with Marie Fredriksson. The resulting song, "Neverending Love", was issued under the band name Roxette—the name Gyllene Tider had used to release The Heartland Café in North America in 1984. The track peaked at number three on the Swedish Singles Chart, and was one the most popular songs on Swedish radio that year. Their debut album, Pearls of Passion, was a major success upon release in October 1986, peaking at number two and eventually selling over 200,000 copies, but it failed to chart internationally. Roxette embarked on their first tour in the summer of 1987, "Rock runt riket" (English: "Rock Around the Kingdom"), a 15-date co-headlining tour with Eva Dahlgren and Ratata.
Marie's third studio album, ... Efter stormen (English: After the Storm), was issued in October 1987 and it peaked at number one and sold over 50,000 copies within a month of release plus was certified platinum by the Swedish Recording Industry Association for shipments in excess of 100,000 units. Both the title track and "Bara för en dag" (English: "Just for a Day") were top ten hits on Svensktoppen, and Marie promoted the album with a sold-out concert tour. Roxette released their second studio album, Look Sharp!, on 21st October 1988. Once again, it was an immediate commercial success in Sweden, selling over 140,000 copies within ten days of release, but failed to chart internationally.
Two weeks later, EMI released Den flygande holländaren (English: The Flying Dutchman), a tribute album to musician Cornelis Vreeswijk, who died the previous year. Marie Fredriksson performed three songs on the compilation. One of these, "Felicia – Adjö", became her first number one on Svensktoppen. Den flygande holländaren peaked at number two for three consecutive weeks in Sweden, where it was held off the top spot by Look Sharp!. The compilation was certified double platinum there, denoting shipments in excess of 200,000 units. The non-album single "Sparvöga" (English: "Sparrow-eye") was recorded as the theme music for a miniseries of the same name, and became both her highest-peaking and best-selling single to date when it was issued in February 1989. Marie Fredriksson won the award for Pop/Rock Female at the 1989 Grammis, the Swedish equivalent of the Grammy Awards, as well as the Rockbjörnen award for Best Swedish Female, for the fourth consecutive year. "The Look" was issued as the third single from Look Sharp! in Sweden, and was a top ten hit upon release in January 1989. The following month, the track unexpectedly entered the American Billboard Hot 100, despite the duo not having a recording contract in the U.S.A.; the local branch of EMI had previously rejected Roxette as "unsuitable for the American market." "The Look" topped the chart after just eight weeks, and went on to peak at number one in a total of 25 countries. The parent album eventually sold over nine million copies worldwide. "Listen to Your Heart" was their second number one on the Hot 100, while the album's final single, "Dangerous", spent two weeks at number two. Marie Fredriksson ended 1989 performing on-stage as part The Husbands, a cover band formed by Lasse Lindbom and Niklas Strömstedt.
In 1990, Marie contributed a cover of the Evert Taube composition "Så skimrande var aldrig havet" (English: "The Sea Was Never So Sparkling") to the tribute album Taube. The same year, Touchstone Pictures approached Gessle to compose a song for the upcoming film Pretty Woman. As he did not have time to compose a new song — Roxette had recently embarked on their first international concert tour — a new edit of their 1987 single "It Must Have Been Love" was created, and featured prominently in the movie. The track became their third number one on the Hot 100, and remains one of Roxette's best-known and most successful singles. The following year, the duo released their third album, Joyride, which remains their most successful release, with worldwide sales of over eleven million copies. The title track gave them their fourth and final number one on the Hot 100, while "Fading Like a Flower (Every Time You Leave)" peaked at number two. The album was promoted by the "Join the Joyride! Tour", their biggest and widest ranging tour yet.
Marie Fredriksson returned to solo work following the recording of Roxette's fourth album, Tourism. She was a featured vocalist on "Änglamark" (English: "Angel Land"), a Band Aid-style recording spearheaded by former ABBA vocalist Anni-Frid Lyngstad under the banner Artister för Miljö (English: 'Artists for the Environment'), which was released in July 1992. She also performed the track alongside all of the other featured artists during a televised gala the following month. Den ständiga resan (English: The Eternal Journey) was released that October, and remains both her highest-selling and most critically successful studio album, with sales of over 185,000 copies in Sweden as of 2002. She was nominated for three awards at the 1993 Grammis, including Songwriter of the Year and Artist of the Year, winning the latter. "Så länge det lyser mittemot" (English: "As Long as There Is Light on the Other Side") and "Mellan sommar och höst" (English: "Between Summer and Autumn") were issued as commercial singles; the latter song, "Så stilla så långsamt" (English: "So Still, So Slow") and "Det regnar igen" (English: "It's Raining Again"), were also top ten hits on Svensktoppen. Marie toured in support of the record.
Her first musical collaboration with husband Mikael Bolyos, "Herren ber för dig" (English: "The Lord Prays for You"), was released in November 1994 on the charitable compilation Vilda fåglar: sånger om barn (English: Wild Birds: Songs About Children), the proceeds of which were donated to children's hospitals in Nordic territories. The next summer, she was a featured vocalist in Bolyos' band Sugarcane, during their concert residency in Halmstad nightclub Penny Lane. She took part in this residency every summer between 1995 and 2002, performing vocals on several of Bolyos' original compositions and numerous cover versions, including "The Good Life".
Her fifth solo album, I en tid som vår (English: In a Time Like Ours), was recorded by Marie Fredriksson and Bolyos at their home studio in Djursholm between February and September 1996. She was eight months pregnant when it was released in November, so refused to publicly promote it. The album peaked at number two on Sverigetopplistan, and lead single "Tro" became the longest-charting song of her career on the Swedish Singles Chart, either as a solo artist or as part of Roxette; it reached number eight and spent a total of twenty-nine weeks on the chart. Her duet with Anni-Frid Lyngstad, "Alla mina bästa år" (English: "All My Best Years") – from Frida's 1996 album Djupa andetag (English: Deep Breaths) – was released as a single in February 1997.
Marie Fredriksson and Gessle collaborated on a new Roxette album throughout 1997 and 1998; Have a Nice Day was eventually released in February 1999. She was more involved in its composition and production than on previous Roxette releases, recording numerous demos at her Djursholm studio and singing lead vocals on ten of the album's fourteen songs. The record includes "Waiting for the Rain", the first Roxette song written and composed solely by Marie Fredriksson. Prior to its release, the duo signed a new recording contract with their long-term label EMI, which saw Marie Fredriksson obtaining full control of the copyrights to her entire discography. The process of recording the album was reputedly difficult and confrontational, with Marie Fredriksson later heavily criticising co-producer Michael Ilbert.
Her first greatest hits album, Äntligen – Marie Marie Fredrikssons bästa 1984–2000, was released in 2000, and was the second best-selling album of the year in Sweden. It was also one of the best-selling albums of 2001, and was certified triple platinum for shipments of almost 250,000 units. The two new songs recorded for the compilation, "Äntligen" (English: "Finally") and "Det som var nu" (English: "That What Was Now"), were both minor hits. The latter song featured Patrik Isaksson, and was a Swedish re-recording of a demo originally produced by Marie Fredriksson for Have a Nice Day. The record was promoted with a Swedish tour.
In 2001, Roxette released their seventh album, Room Service. Even though Ilbert was not present for this album's recording, Marie later said she "lost all desire to continue Roxette", and would appear at the recording studio as infrequently as possible; she instructed her taxi driver to wait outside while she recorded vocals for "Milk and Toast and Honey". The album was supported with a European tour, after which Marie Fredriksson "called for a meeting" with Gessle, wherein she discussed disbanding Roxette, to which Gessle agreed. She issued a box set containing all of her previous studio albums, Kärlekens guld (English: Love's Gold), in June 2002. Roxette scheduled the release of two new compilation albums, The Ballad Hits and The Pop Hits, which were to be promoted with performances at the 2002 edition of the pan-European orchestral concert series "Night of the Proms". A press conference announcing these appearances as Roxette's "swan song" was scheduled to take place in the Netherlands on 12th September 2002.