Marie Fredriksson, half of the iconic Swedish pop duo Roxette, has died after a 17-year battle with cancer. The Dimberg Jernberg agency, Fredriksson’s management company, confirmed that the singer died on Monday, per CNN. She was 61 years old.
Born on May 30, 1958, Fredriksson began harnessing her singing ability at a very young age. She enrolled in a music school at the age of 17, where she co-wrote and co-starred in a musical that toured through Sweden and was performed for Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme. She later became heavily involved in the indie music scene, leading to the formation of punk band Strul and her involvement in several other projects that garnered attention from fellow musicians and producers, including Per Gessele. After numerous turns as a featured, solo, and backup vocalist, Fredriksson went on to form Roxette with Gessele in 1986.
Roxette’s breakout hit, “The Look” topped the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1989 despite not having a recording contract in the country. Another single, “It Must Have Been Love,” soared to certain popularity after it was featured in the 1990 rom-com Pretty Woman. The following year, Roxette released their third and most successful album, Joyride, which sold 11 million copies worldwide. Within the span of a few years, Roxette had become one of the defining sounds of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Following Joyride, Fredriksson returned to solo work, though she did collaborate on one more Roxette album from 1997 to 1999 before the duo officially disbanded in 2002.
That same year, Fredriksson was diagnosed with a brain tumor after collapsing in her home. After the diagnosis, she underwent surgery and three years of treatment before declaring that she was healthy in a 2005 interview with Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. She continued to work on her music and art as a form of therapy, recording cover songs and even reuniting with Gessele for two more Roxette songs. The duo would officially reform in 2009 and embark on their first world tour in 2011 after 15 years. She continued to record and perform music, but in 2016 she announced that she would cease touring due to her declining health, per her doctor’s orders. She released her last single, “Sing Me A Song” in 2018.
Gessele released a statement on his Facebook page, bidding farewell to his friend of over 40 years. “You were an outstanding musician, a master of the voice, an amazing performer,” he wrote. “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. Things will never be the same.” Fredriksson is survived by her husband, musician Mikael Bolyos, their daughter, Inez Josefin, and son, Oscar.