Anna Hedlund from TT News Agency did an interview with Per Gessle now that he turns 65 on Friday. It was already published in Göteborgs-Posten yesterday.
From stage fright to stage intoxication. Hitmaker Per Gessle’s pop journey is not just music history. It has also been a journey of development for him personally. Now he turns 65.
Nothing is as cool as having 10,000 people sing along to your own song. That’s why Mick Jagger & Co. never stop. You can’t get that energy in any other way, says Per Gessle.
His own desires don’t seem to be diminishing either. In the summer of 2023, he again toured the country with Gyllene Tider – even though the band actually had their farewell tour in 2019. Last year he released Roxette material in a new costume, under the name PG Roxette.
Although it has been 45 years since his career took off, it is still unbelievable that he turns 65.
You’re always 25 in your head. But I certainly notice that I am getting older, physically. This energy you used to have all the time now you have it for shorter periods.
It all started when, as a little boy, he fell for pop music through his older brother. From The Beatles to David Bowie’s music, Per absorbed everything: the style, the hair, the chords, the English language. But it was a pop journey that began rather introspectively.
In my teens, I was very closed in on myself and music, and didn’t have many friends. Music opened a completely new door.
When Gyllene Tider was formed in 1978, Per Gessle already had the habit of putting together pop songs – but not of being on stage.
When we started with Gyllene Tider, we were rookies. Then it was all about daring to stand on stage and survive. To do it and do it well.
To understand how great Gyllene Tider was in those years between the ’70s and ’80s, you can say this, for example: when Per Gessle turned 21, he received three mailbags with 3,000 congratulatory postcards delivered to his home.
And it often happened – much to his mother’s disappointment – that fans would come to his parents’ home and steal small souvenirs, such as clothes from the clothesline or license plates and antennas from the car.
In the years 1979-1982 I lived in a constant state of shock that it became so big.
After that, nothing would be as usual again. After the golden years with Gyllene Tider, followed the international success with Roxette, that took him and bandmate Marie Fredriksson on world tour after world tour during the ’90s.
A reality quite far from the small-town life Per Gessle grew up in. Apart from when he weighed mushrooms at Fammarp’s mushroom farm or packed boxes at Ica as a teenager, he has never had a “regular job”. But he loves to work.
During the noughties, he released several solo albums, both in Swedish and in English.
I never thought I had time to party and have girlfriends. And my life probably still revolves around work. Åsa, my wife, says that I “give birth” when I lock myself in my room for 14 days and work. But that’s in my personality, I can’t do anything if I don’t do it one hundred percent.
Per and Åsa met in 1985. They married in 1993 and have a son, Gabriel, who is now 26. Combining a family life with life as a touring rock star took some planning, but it worked. The family often accompanied them on tours, and Gabriel spent more than a semester travelling with a teacher with him.
But he has not followed in his father’s footsteps.
He works as a computer programmer. He’s been given free rein and we have supported what he has wanted to do. For a year he was a professional e-sports player too, but it wasn’t for him and now he’s got it out of his system.
Being Per Gessle is also being the brand “Per Gessle”. Posing for selfies with fans at the petrol station and in the grocery store happens everyday and is part of the package when you are recognized by everyone. Or, maybe not exactly everyone.
I know that when I leave my door I’m public property, which I have lived with most of my life. But when I was walking in town once, a girl came and wanted to take a selfie, and afterwards a little guy came and asked: “Are you a celebrity?”. “I’m Foppa!”, I replied then. Haha.
[Peter “Foppa” Forsberg is a Swedish ice hockey player. /PP]
There is no sign that “reaching the retirement age” means a quieter life for Per Gessle. This year he will release a new solo album in Swedish and in the summer there will be a premiere for a film about Gyllene Tider. Next autumn will also offer a musical at Malmö Opera which builds on Roxette’s song catalogue. Are there any other dreams still?
No. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I slipped into this and sometimes I have to pinch myself when I see that it has worked all my life.
Facts about Per Gessle
Turns: 65 on 12th January.
Profession: musician, songwriter. Owns Hotel Tylösand.
Family: wife Åsa Gessle and son Gabriel, 26 years old.
Lives: in Halmstad where he grew up.
On turning 65: “I don’t think about it too much, it’s just a number.”
This is how he celebrates: “Very carefully with very few people, only the nearest and dearest to me.”
Staying in shape: “I try to walk at least an hour every day and work out, because I got a frozen shoulder last year. I also do 15-20 minutes of exercises every day.”