SVT’s tribute event for Marie Fredriksson

According to the press release, friends and members of Sweden’s artist elite gather at Stora Teatern in Gothenburg on 20th January to celebrate Marie Fredriksson’s fantastic music act in connection with her passing away on 9th December 2019.

The event, En kväll för Marie Fredriksson, features songs from Marie’s and Roxette’s song catalogue under the direction of Christoffer Lundquist. We get to hear memories and stories from a long career and see treasures from the archives showing the rising of a world star.

The event is a collaboration between Stora Teatern and SVT, which will also broadcast the tribute concert. The host will be Kattis Ahlström.

– We at SVT look forward to celebrating Marie Fredriksson’s unique work for Swedish music. She and Per Gessle put Sweden back on the musical world map through Roxette’s success around the world, and Marie’s own songs are still played today on dates, weddings and other festive occasions. It will be nice to give back a little in connection with the concert evening, says Christina Hill, SVT program manager.

A few tickets were released to the public on Friday, 10th January and the event got sold out fast.

The concert starts at 19:00 on 20th January, but all who can’t be there in person will be able to watch it, or at least a 1.5-hour-long cut on SVT1 at 21:00 CET on 25th January. SVT states it will be available worldwide.

According to SVT, Per Gessle and other artists who worked together with Marie will perform at the event.

Göteborgs-Posten informs that names of other artists will be announced next week. Performing artists will be backed by a band that can almost be described as a mix of Roxette and Gyllene Tider. Clarence Öfwerman, Christoffer Lundquist, Jonas Isacsson, Anders Herrlin, Micke Syd Andersson, Pelle Alsing, Dea Norberg and Staffan Astner are confirmed to be there.

Still is from “Tack för musiken” (SVT)

Update on 17th January 2020: Eva Dahlgren, Lasse Lindbom, Linnea Henriksson, Agnes, Petra Marklund and Maja Ivarsson will also perform at the event.

Det svenska popundret – The Swedish Pop Phenomenon

2 months ago SVT broadcast a documentary about modern Swedish music’s journey around the world. I just had the time now to watch it and since many fans asked for translation, I thought I would summarize it for them. The part with Roxette in it has a more detailed summary, of course.

The documentary consists of 6 episodes and one can follow how the music industry, music consumption, production and spreading music changed over the decades. It’s a real high quality docu including a lot of information not only about Roxette, but many other Swedish artists and worldwide hits.

The 6 episodes on SVT’s website are available to watch only in Sweden, but the extras can be watched even outside Sweden. The episodes are up on YouTube though, so you can watch them from any country.

Part 1 – En magisk afton i april – A magical evening in April

This episode is about the ’60s and ’70s. I picked a couple of interesting parts of it. One of them is when the reporter asks several Swedish artists (Dr. Alban, Neneh Cherry, Jonas Åkerlund, Björn Skifs, Per Gessle among them) if they know who the first Swedish artist was that entered the US Billboard Hot 100. Even Per couldn’t guess it right. It was Siw Malmkvist with Sole Sole Sole in 1964, peaking at No. 58. When the reporter hands over the single to Mr. G he says it has a wonderful cover. He immediately takes out the vinyl from its sleeve and smells it. Haha.

Another interesting fact was that the first Swedish No. 1 on Billboard was Blue Swede’s cover of Hooked On a Feeling. Blue Swede was Björn Skifs’ band back then. What is more interesting is that the song became No. 1 on the same day when ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo. 6th April 1974.

ABBA, still being Sweden’s biggest music export, was the first band that could make an international breakthrough not coming from the US or the UK.

Paul Gambaccini (known as The Professor of Pop) from BBC says they learned that if you get music from Sweden, you should at least listen to it.

Part 2 – “Today Sweden, Tomorrow The World”

Yes, this is the episode about Roxette, the ’80s mainly, but also a few words about the ’90s. It is worth watching this episode even if you can’t speak Swedish. It shows a lot of footage from concerts, studio sessions and old interviews.

In one of the old interviews Marie and Per say their dream is to break through not only in Sweden, but also internationally.

First, the reporter is talking about Gyllene Tider with Per. After a while he shows the English version of När vi två blir en (Beating Heart) to Mr. G on YouTube. Per’s facial expression says it all. Many artists tried their luck in the ’80s. They were singing in English to have better chances for their breakthrough.

Per shows The Heartland Café album that was released in 1984, one year after he released his first solo album. Then he suddenly shows another sleeve which says Roxette as the band’s name. That was the US version. Per tells he remembers he was at Tower Records in Los Angeles and found their album next to Roxy Music and it made him very happy. But they sold only a few hundred copies of that record. The Heartland Café didn’t sell good in Sweden either.

About Marie, the reporter says a girl showed up with a better voice than the best singers had. Per says Marie and him thought they could do something together and one day break through abroad. Mr. G says it was a better period for Marie when GT failed with The Heartland Café. She was an artist on her way up with a bright future. For Per, it was the exact opposite. He released another solo album that was a flop.

Per always wanted to work together with Marie and do something in English. Mr. G wrote Svarta Glas for Pernilla Wahlgren, but she or her record company never got back to Per. Then this song was just lying around and when the head of EMI heard it, he told Per he should translate it into English and record it with Marie. It became Roxette’s debut single, Neverending Love. There was no picture of Marie and Per on the cover not to risk Marie’s career. If the single flops, there is no harm done, they thought. But the single became a hit in Sweden, so they went to the studio to record a complete album. They had a video camera with them and extreme ambitions. They even printed ”Today Sweden, Tomorrow The World” on their T-shirts.

There was another Swedish band back in the days that was really successful, Europe. The reporter asks Per if they were envious of Europe. Mr. G says of course they were. Of their hairdo. Haha. After we get to know more about Europe’s breakthrough, Per says they envied the success of the guys, but at the same time it was awesome. Europe showed that it works even after ABBA. They managed to succeed in the US.

Roxette’s debut album wasn’t released abroad even if it became double platinum in Sweden. EMI in Germany said they should write a Christmas song, so it might be on the radio. Per went home and wrote It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for the Broken Hearted). It was a big song in Sweden in 1987, but it wasn’t even released in Germany.

The reporter says, if you come from Halmstad, there is only one way to go, forward. Per started writing songs for another Roxette album and they were soon back in the studio. With less musicians, more machines and of course, Marie’s magical voice.

Per thinks that their 2nd album, Look Sharp! is still magnificent. The reporter asks what people thought about the album abroad. Per says it had a nice response, but many other artists had good albums. The reporter asks if they were disappointed. Mr. G says he was disappointed because he knew it was a fantastic album, they all felt it was a strong record, so they thought it’s difficult to go forward when you don’t have success with such an album.

In 1988 another Swedish artist broke through internationally. It was Neneh Cherry with her Buffalo Stance single. Per says it’s an awesome one. He knew that Neneh Cherry was Swedish, but many thought she was e.g. from Brooklyn.

Then comes the story of Dean Cushman. As we all know, he brought his copy of Look Sharp! to the radio station in Minneapolis. Program leader Brian Phillips says it picked his curiosity, but didn’t put it on on his CD player. The album was lying around on his table among other music. Then Dean popped up again to ask his album back, so then Brian felt guilty and thought he would listen to it. The Look came up and Brian thought the intro was great. He thought the whole song was great. ”This is terrific pop. I remember hitting the false ending in the song and it picked back up again and then I got goosebumps. Oh boy… this is…”

Per says they sent it to other stations too and got the same response. Everything exploded after that. The Look became No. 1 on the US Billboard 100 on 8th April 1989. In an old interview Per explains what it means to have an US No. 1. It can open the doors to other markets, like Europe, Japan, everywhere.

Per tells the story of soundtrack to Pretty Woman. He was asked to write a soundtrack song for a movie called 3000 Dollars in the beginning. He didn’t have the time to write a new song, but thought It Must Have Been Love could work with that. And the rest is history. 6 months later Pretty Woman became one of the biggest movies of all time and IMHBL became Roxette’s biggest song. The reporter asks how the song worked in Germany. Per says it became a hit there too. It was No. 4 on the charts the reporter confirms.

The reporter gives Per a piece of paper with numbers written on it. 1, 14, 1, 2, 1, 1, 2. Per guesses it right, it’s the list of Roxette’s singles’ peaks on Billboard. The Look, Dressed for Success, Listen to Your Heart, Dangerous, It Must Have Been Love, Joyride, Fading Like A Flower. Per says the more time goes by, the more unbelievable it feels.

To emphasize how amazing it is, there were 7 Swedish No. 1’s on Billboard and 4 of them are Roxette songs. Roxette had more US No. 1’s than e.g. the Queen.

Swedish No. 1’s

1974 Blue Swede – Hooked On A Feeling
1977 ABBA – Dancing Queen
1989 Roxette – The Look
1989 Roxette – Listen To Your Heart
1990 Roxette – It Must Have Been Love
1991 Roxette – Joyride
1994 Ace of Base – The Sign

Part 3 – Hitkrattan och Cheirongubben – Exploring hits and the Cheiron guy

This episode is about the ’90s, the disco and dance floor era. DJs and music producers talk, but also Dr. Alban and Ace of Base, as well as American artists who came to Sweden to record their songs. Denniz Pop and Max Martin also appear in this part of the documentary, who wrote and produced songs for e.g. Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears.

Part 4 – “Generation Blockflöjt” – Generation Recorder

This episode is also about the ’90s. The Wannadies, Atomic Swing, The Cardigans, Meja are talking among others, but also Jonas Åkerlund who directed tons of music videos. Roxette’s Fingertips and June Afternoon, as well as Per Gessle’s Kix is shown in the docu for some seconds, but he directed videos also for e.g. The Prodigy, The Cardigans, U2 and Madonna.

Part 5 – Ett paradis för pirater – A paradise for pirates

This episode is about the 2000s. It’s about how the computers and the internet changed the music industry. Basshunter, Robyn, Swedish House Mafia, Avicii and his manager, as well as Daniel Ek (VD Spotify) talk among others in this part of the docu. Most of this episode is about Avicii.

Part 6 – Må bästa låt vinna – May the best song win

In this episode we can see again the question about who the first Swedish artist was on Billboard. Then another question is asked from several artists: Which song is the biggest hit? Being for the longest time on several charts, not only in the US. In the vinyl era: ABBA – Dancing Queen; CD era: Ace of Base – The Sign; streaming era: Avicii – Wake Me Up; written by a Swede: Lady Gaga – Poker Face (co-written by RedOne).

Most of this episode is about Max Martin and Johan ”Shellback” Schuster. Martin has 22 No. 1’s on Billboard Hot 100. Only John Lennon and Paul McCartney have more. Justin Timberlake says Martin is great at making earworms. Adam Levine, Pink, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift are also talking about him. Martin together with Shellback produced tons of worldwide hits.

Extras

Hitlåtens historia på 2 minuter – Roxette – The Look

It’s the song’s story in 2 minutes. Most of it is repeating what you could hear and see in Part 2 of the docu about the song. In addition it is mentioned that the recording technician who would have originally been in the studio broke his leg, so Anders Herrlin came to record with Marie and Per. He brought computers, synths and some other stuff. Roxette found their sound. Also, they are talking about the song, what the lyrics mean. There Per explains he wrote the lyrics to remember the rythm. If you want, you can find a surreal logic in the text.

Per + Marie = Roxette

Per says he thought he was good at writing songs, but he didn’t like his own voice. He thought his voice set a limit to his material. He didn’t want to sing, but wanted to work with someone who could. When Marie started singing she made Per’s songs so much better. In the end they became a duo and Per was singing too. He says it’s effective. It’s the same as in Fleetwood Mac or the Eagles or The Beatles. You can customize the song after you wrote it. He wrote The Look for Marie, but it didn’t fit her, but it suited Per. The big ballads he wrote for her, Queen of Rain, Listen To Your Heart, It Must Have Been Love, Marie made them big anthems. When he listens to his demos of these songs he can hear they are rather boring. It’s Marie’s capacity that lifted these songs. Per says they were a good combo. Match made in heaven. They were good at different things, but when they added them together, 1 + 1 made 5.

Fönster mot TV-världen del 2: Roxette tar över Argentina – Window to the TV world (part 2): Roxette takes over Argentina

Per talks about their first tour in South America 1992. He says there was extreme poverty and Michael Jackson cancelled his tour, Guns N’ Roses too, Madonna as well. It was clear they wouldn’t earn money on that part of the tour, but they still wanted to play there. Whole South America exploded. They had to move their shows from places with capacity of 7000 to football stadiums with capacity of 48000 in Buenos Aires, 65000 in São Paulo, 55000 in Rio de Janeiro. Same in Lima and Santiago. After the first Buenos Aires concert they had to do another show and they sold the rights to broadcast live to one of the 2 TV channels in Argentina. The other TV channel was broadcasting their Zurich show from half a year before. So that night for about 90 minutes Roxette was all around Argentina.

 

Stills are from the documentary.

”How can you be prepared when you lose a family member?” – Kirsten Ohlwein on Marie Fredriksson

Last time we shared Kirsten’s thoughts here was January this year. The title was 1001 nights without Marie referring to the time that had passed by since 18th April 2016 until then. Kirsten finished her writing with these words:

To the next 1000 days!

P.S.: In case something interesting comes up, don’t be surprised if you see an article from me here, anyway.

We wouldn’t have expected that not even 365 days pass and we welcome her thoughts again. Better said, we wouldn’t have expected that instead of ”something interesting” it is now the saddest thing happened why she shares her thoughts. Tons of us feel with her, we’re very sure about it, but not many of us can put these feelings into words as beautifully as Kirsten does. We’re all heartbroken.

I haven’t put my thoughts into words yet. My postings are coming straight out of a survival mode feeling. I try to breathe, I try to work, I try to sleep, I try to eat.

We all knew this day would come. I tried to prepare myself. And if you had asked me on Monday or right before the news hit me, I would have told you with all my heart that I let go of her a while ago, that I don’t expect her to reach 70, that her body is just exhausted. I would have told you that I am prepared for the worst. Just to realize a day later that you are prepared until you are not.

And how can you be prepared when you lose a family member? And yes, that’s exactly what she was for me, a family member. An important one. Like a bigger sister who constantly offers you support, love and understanding coming with the greatest voice this planet ever had. How convenient! (Well, and a bigger sister I had a crush on for a while as well..)

When I was struggling, when I felt down, when I was beaten, I turned to her and she offered comfort. And so she did for the past 28 years.

She was a force to be reckoned with. She was the strongest woman I have ever known. She beat a disease for 17 years, when everyone else who suffered the same shit survived two.

She never gave up, she overcame aphasia, a total loss of speech and she fought her way back to life JUST LIKE THAT. Her first words after a long period of silence? The chorus of Dangerous. She lived for what she loved. She loved to live.

She came back to give us and her TWO WORLD TOURS which took an incredible amount of energy and time she could have spent with her family. The travelling, the concerts, us, the fans.

She was so nervous before the NOTP, a nervosity and anxiety she couldn’t shake for weeks. And why? Because she feared that people wouldn’t want to see her anymore, that they would have forgotten about her.

She stayed, she fought, show after show, until she couldn’t anymore. She was so grateful that she was able to do it after all she had been through. She soaked it up like it was the essence of life, and it was. She was so grateful that we were still there, supporting her, showing her love.

And we were grateful to be able to be part of this once more. Roxette made me find people who became some of the most important people in my life, they still are my closest friends.

And I am sure when my grief subsides, I will be nothing but grateful that I got to know this special, so special woman. A humble, strong, grateful woman. A person who enjoyed every moment, who lived in the moment, who was WITH YOU and you only when you talked to her.

On the other side of my grief I can also grab a tiny feeling of relief. I hope she is in a better place now, finally, after letting go of a body that didn’t want to be no more. I hope she is free, I hope she sings them all some songs wherever she is. I am relieved her suffering is over. And I am sure, yet, while she surely suffered a lot, she didn’t go without a fight. Because she never did.

And personally, for me dying became a lot easier. I know whom I will meet when my time has come.

Kirsten

Still is from this video

 

Spanish edition of Marie Fredriksson’s biography

Marie Fredriksson’s autobiography, Kärleken till livet was first published in Swedish in 2015, then in German in 2016 (Listen to my heart: Meine Liebe zum Leben) and in Czech in 2017 (Listen to my heart: Moje láska k životu). On 18th June 2019 the book was finally released in Spanish (Listen to my heart)! We are still badly missing an English version. Maybe one day…

You can order the Spanish edition HERE!

From what we know, in Argentina the Spanish version was released only as an e-book, so fans started a petition that you can sign HERE if you also want the book to be published physically in Argentina.

Longtime fan Bianca Martins Cappelletti took some pictures of the Spanish edition. Here you can see those pages that contain different photos vs. the Swedish version. Could be that these photos already appeared in the German and Czech versions, because I remember I saw at least some of these.

1001 nights without Marie

The article is written by former member of RoxetteBlog, Kirsten Ohlwein. Kirsten decided to leave RoxBlog in June 2018 and I’m sure a lot of fans have been missing her words since then. We missed her too, but now we are happy it seems that once in a while we can welcome her and share Kirsten’s writing on our blog. Here is her thoughts on the time passed by since 18th April 2016.

“It was a rainy day in October 2018 when I suddenly counted days without realizing it at first. I wondered for how many days the Roxette how we were used to know it (Per and Marie) didn’t exist anymore. Of course I couldn‘t figure out the exact number on my own and then I didn’t give it any further thought anymore, but some days ago I suddenly remembered it and I checked online. I wanted to know the date of the 1000th day. I put the date (18th April 2016) on a website… and it told me, yes, the 1000th day of the Roxette non-existence is 12th January 2019, Per’s 60th birthday. Nothing but a coincidence, but it put a sad smile on my face anyway.

1001 nights without Marie. And yes, I don’t count her rare appearances with releasing songs on her birthday in 2017 and 2018 and one song in winter 2017. Those are old recordings. It’s not that she was in the studio recently and decided to record them. Yes, the videos are new, I know. And still… everything is different.

1001 nights without Marie. And I realize that I let her go much earlier than I thought I would back on that day in April 2016. Yet – it took me a long time to accept the truth. You can’t let go something or someone easily  that was so close to your heart for such a long time, that gave you some of the best memories in your life, that made you meet some of the best people in the world, people that became close and even closer friends. In autumn 2016 I started to come to terms with the fact that I would never see her in person. Ever again. That was the hardest part for me, and it still is. For the simple reason that she just appeared in a room and recharged my batteries instantly. For the simple fact that she made my life better just by singing a song being on stage in front of me, by smiling at me or by radiating with love and joy.

1001 nights without Marie. I made my peace with her having disappeared from all the stages, from public, living her life in privacy, surrounded by the people she loves. Because she nothing but deserves this so much. Who else showed death the finger and survived against all odds?

1001 nights without Marie. She proved me wrong. After April 16th, I had hoped for another miracle, for her to be too stubborn to give up, to be back in no time. Now I know she didn’t give up, it was just a necessary next step. She accepted it, she acted accordingly. She cheated death, probably more than once, she went on two world tours after that, she learned new songs despite the fact that she can’t read properly anymore, she recorded three Roxette albums within five years.

Pic by Kirsten Ohlwein

Do I still miss her? Yes, very often!
Do I still think of her? Yes, every day when I wake up and see her face tattooed on my calf.
Do I still hope for a wonder? No, we already had more than one.
Did I let go of her? Yes, the day I got her face on my calf forever. It’s a full stop. Everything came to a halt.
Does this article have any relevance? No, but why does it have to have relevance?

Do you still miss her?
Do you still think of her?
Do you still hope for a wonder?
Did you start to let go?
Do you think all of that has any relevance?

Today, and I can of course only speak for myself, I am happy that she is such a private person, living such a private life. I don’t want to know how she is doing, I don’t want articles in Swedish press, I don’t want press statements, I want her to live in peace, to sit at a table in the sun and enjoy life as much as possible.

And with this article I want her to thank one more and one last time for giving me the best time of my life, the emptiest bank account of all times, the best memories that I carry in my heart forever and the best vocals in some of the best pop tunes ever written!

Today, 1001 nights later, 1001 nights without Marie later, there is nothing but gratitude!

Last year I left the RXB team, because I felt it’s time to let that part of me go, too. A huge chapter in my life book is closed for quite some time now. I won’t stop following the fan pages or Per’s activities, but there won’t be any more concerts, I stopped purchasing new releases and I don’t consider myself an active fan anymore. So, this is my goodbye message to everyone out there in the Rox world that I know or those who know me! Thanks for all the meetings, the fun, the waiting in freaking heat or unbearable cold, for travelling with me, for understanding me, for still staying in touch with me, for some of the best years of my life! Gratitude, nothing but gratitude. Time flies when you’re having fun, right?

To the next 1000 days!

P.S.: In case something interesting comes up, don’t be surprised if you see an article from me here, anyway.“

Kirsten