Roxette – “It Must Have Been Love” played 6 million times on US radio

BMI proudly honoured the top UK and European songwriters, composers and music publishers of the most-performed songs of the previous year at the 2021 BMI London Awards. Among others, honourees for Million-Air Awards were announced as well. As BMI states, they recognize and celebrate these accomplished songwriters whose classic standards have literally been played millions and millions of times in the U.S.

Listen To Your Heart celebrated its 6-Million-Air Award a year ago, now it’s It Must Have Been Love’s turn! American radios played it 6 million times! If it was constantly played, it would mean almost 50 years! Pure awesomeness!

Roxette reached their 3rd No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with IMHBL on 16th June 1990 and stayed on top of the chart for 2 weeks. In 2000 Per received the award from BMI for this song being played over 3 million times on American radio, for 4 million he got the award in 2005 and for 5 million plays in 2014.

And hey, it started out as a Christmas song that found its way to hot-hot Hollywood! At least 6 million thanks to Per Gessle for writing this most amazing ballad and to Marie Fredriksson for adding her wonderful vocals and turning it into Roxette’s signature song! Big congrats! Big! Huge!

Per Gessle on Swedish Radio P3’s morning show

The program leaders of Morgonpasset i P3 were very excited to have a „legend, Sweden’s greatest songwriter, the one and only” Per Gessle on their show last Friday, 24th September. Mr. G arrived to the studio and was on air some minutes after 8:30 am. HERE you can listen to this episode of the morning show and hear Per himself from 2:08:38 to 3:08:10 in the complete version and from 58:15 to 1:28:08 in the „utan musik” (without music) version.

After the program leaders give a loud welcome (applauding him and shouting „Per! Per! Per!”), Mr. G thanks for it and says now he has woken up. One of the guys tells Per that probably not all his mornings start like this. Mr. G jokes and says it’s his family – his son and wife – standing in line shouting „Per! Per! Per!” „Wake up! Wake up!” – one of the program leader guys adds. They all laugh.

To the question how he is doing Mr. G replies all good, he is back in Stockholm for a while and it feels great. The guy asks Per if he has a place to stay in Stockholm. PG tells he has an office and an apartment there. He loves Stockholm and thinks it’s a very nice city. He tells he is so old that he has seen how Stockholm has been changing over the years. It has become a very cool city, much more international than when they were hanging out at Café Opera in 1981. He adds that becoming pop stars in 1980 was awkward. There were gangs who wanted to make jokes of them, e.g. once they got an open can of surströmming in their tour bus.

The guys are talking about the upcoming PG tour. Per tells it’s going to be an unplugged tour. They play the songs in an acoustic arrangement, without drums. He tells that in summer they had 10 concerts at Hotel Tylösand with appr. 480 people sitting in the audience each night, due to the restrictions because of the pandemic. The band was also sitting on stage and it was much fun. Per tells he had never played in such an intimate atmosphere before. They played songs that were quite lyrics-based and he was telling anecdotes in between the songs. It was a new experience for him.

To the question why he wants to be on the road Per replies that in his case it has something to do with the fact that he got hooked to the pop world and pop music when he was 6-7-8 years old. There is an incredibly strong romance in pop culture Per is stuck in. He can’t describe it better. It’s in everything he is doing from when he wakes up and probably also when he is dreaming. He loves everything about pop culture. When he was young it was e.g. the long hair guys had, which might sound a bit ridiculous nowadays that it meant something back then, but it was awesome. Per tells there are many pop nerds out there who won’t become musicians or songwriters, but he ended up in the creative processes. He adds that with Roxette they travelled around the world and there are different religions and cultures all around, but everyone sings It Must Have Been Love, The Look, Listen To Your Heart and Spending My Time. It’s magical to experience it and this connection is simply indescribable.

The program leader lady asks Per what songs he plays on the unplugged tour, if Tycker om när du tar på mej is one of them. Mr. G tells it is and they play mainly Swedish songs, but also a couple of Roxette songs.

The guys are talking about Per’s hairdos and it turns out Per goes to the hairdresser in Stockholm. One of the guys asks Per if there is a style on which he looks back like „what the hell did I think?”. Mr. G tells all hairdos and clothes have something to do with the times you live in. When they started

Roxette, Marie e.g. had red hair and Per had purple hair. It might have been a little odd, one can think now, but it felt hot back then. Old clothes are trendy again, so the ones they bought at Trash and Vaudeville in New York in 1989 are stylish again.

One of the guys asks whether you become less or more conscious over the years. Per says it’s a tough question, but he feels the older he gets the calmer he becomes. Now he doesn’t have to prove anything, but he was under pressure and had performance anxiety when he was 20 years old. He is the ambitious type and he has always been working very intensively to achieve something. Now he still works intensively, but such things don’t bother him anymore.

The lady asks Per if he has written 500 songs. Per says he thinks it’s more, he has 1000 songs registered at STIM.

The guys are talking about how Per grew up. Mr. G tells he had an older brother, Bengt who was 7 years older than Per. In the middle of The Beatles era Bengt and his friends showed Per the true spirit of 60’s pop and that actually became Per’s life. He started writing lists all day. Lists of songs or who played the bass on different songs, he just liked lists. Later, as he got older he sold Christmas magazines and was handing out newspapers. With that he earned 50 öre and he bought a single for that money. He had 100 records in his collection when he was 10 years old. The lady asks if there was any musician in Per’s family. Mr. G says not really, but he heard that his father’s father’s father was a musician. He played the violin.

One of the guys asks PG if the nerd in him has disappeared, maybe now he thinks he is too cool for that. Per laughs and says he has never been cool. The lady says c’mon, he became a world famous pop star already in the 80’s. Per tells when they broke through with Gyllene Tider they all came from the countryside. He came from Halmstad, the other guys from Harplinge and Åled. He only started singing in the band because no one else wanted to. The whole journey of GT was about being lost in the woods, but they were very ambitious, had fun ideas and they were lucky that a guy at EMI in Stockholm liked their song, Billy. One of the program leader guys asks if that guy from EMI went to listen to GT, but Per says it wasn’t him, but Lasse Lindbom who was sent down to Halmstad. Later he became their producer, but at first he wasn’t impressed at all. Per thinks they were a very good band. He still has rehearsal cassettes from 1979-1981. When Per listens to those today, he thinks it was more than OK, it’s rather wow, how damn good they were already then. And they were only 20-year-olds. The arrangement was good and all songs sound quite ready. PG thinks GT is still a fantastic pop band. When they play together there is something special happening. The lady asks if there is a plan for another comeback. Per replies one can never know when it comes to GT.

After playing It Must Have Been Love on the radio, the guys are talking about what this song means to people all around the world. Per thinks it’s amazing and it’s the best thing in his job that you get so much back from those who are listening to your songs. The lady asks about the story of IMHBL. Per tells it started out as a Christmas song. When Roxette recorded their first LP they also wanted to go to other markets, e.g. Germany, which was the biggest market in Europe. Their songs didn’t get airplay, so EMI Germany asked them to write a Christmas song, because maybe with that it would be easier to get airplays. So Per wrote It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken Hearted). It was released as a Christmas single in Sweden in 1987 and it became a gold record. The Germans didn’t like the song, so they didn’t release it. The lady says „Germans have no taste” and Per reacts: „it wasn’t me who said that”. They laugh. Mr. G tells that Marie was releasing a solo album then and he was writing songs for the album that became Look Sharp! 3 years later he was asked to write a song for Pretty Woman, but he didn’t have time for that, but they had this Christmas song. They made a new intro to that and changed the lyrics. The guy tells Marie sadly passed away and asks Per what he thinks about when he hears this song nowadays. Anytime Per hears a Roxette song Marie was singing, he is amazed how good she was. She was totally awesome. He remembers the early Roxette days when he heard in the studio what Marie could do with his songs. The idea behind Roxette was that Marie would be the singer and Per the songwriter. Everything he wrote was written for Marie. The Look he also wrote for her, but Marie thought it didn’t suit her style, so in the end Per sang it.

Mr. G tells Marie and he met at the rehearsal studio in Sperlingsholm outside Halmstad. Gyllene Tider and Marie’s band, Strul shared the studio. When Per first saw Marie she was playing the electric piano, she had long brown hair and she was singing fantastically. Per tells Marie’s gang was rather progressive rock, while GT was pop and never wanted to deal with politics. Marie had many sides, she also liked e.g. The Monkees. They became friends and very early, already in 1980 she sang with Gyllene Tider, she was there with GT on TV too. Marie was doing her solo things too with the same producer GT had.

The lady asks Per to talk about the relationship between Marie and him and to tell what Marie meant to him. Mr. G tells he and Marie lived quite intensively together for years, Roxette took all their waking hours from the time they broke through till Marie had her first child. Then she had her second child and then Per also had a son in 1997. Then everything became a bit calmer and they were working together until Marie became ill in 2002. Then they did a comeback in 2009 and toured until 2016. After her illness she became a different Marie, but the band also became different and it changed how they could work in the studio and on tours. On the last tour Marie was sitting on stage, because she couldn’t walk too well. One could see her conditions got worse, but it was she herself who really wanted to tour and work, even if her doctors advised her not to go on tour at all. So they did everything on Marie’s terms. She was the warrior type. She wanted to meet her fans. One of the program leader guys asks Per if he remembers the last time he met Marie. Per says of course he does. Here the program leaders feel they shouldn’t ask more about this topic.

One of the guys asks Per if he has ever met Sir Paul McCartney. Per tells he met Paul when McCartney played at the Apollo Theater in Harlem a couple of years ago. The event was presented by Sirius XM where Per also has a show, Nordic Rox with Sven Lindström since more than 10 years. The guys intervene here and say Howard Stern is also at Sirius XM. Per tells Howard Stern will also appear in his story with Paul. So he goes on with his anecdote. The boss at Sirius XM asked Per if he had ever met Paul and Per said no. So the boss organized a meeting. Per and Åsa and Howard Stern and his wife went to the green room before the concert and had a small talk. There was a photographer too. Suddenly, a door opened and boom, there was Paul McCartney with his thumbs up and said „Hey, fancy a picture anyone?” Per stood there, Åsa stood in the middle, Paul on the other side. Per suddenly felt a hand on his ass and he hoped it was Åsa’s. They laugh. He tells they took that picture, which he still has. After they left, Per asked Åsa if it was her who put her hand on his ass. Åsa said she put one hand on Per’s ass and the other hand on Paul’s to see who had the firmer ass. Paul had it. They laugh. Per says „that’s my wife in a nutshell. She is from Trelleborg.”

The lady tells she heard Per was at Mickey Rourke’s 30th birthday party back in the days and that he was also at Prince’s Paisley Park Studio. She asks about this latter one, how it was. Mr. G tells Prince wasn’t there himself. They went there because they planned to work in the studio. The first thing they saw was a giant white cage with a giant white bird. The studio manager asked „Do you want to see Prince’s private apartment?” They thought why not. The bedroom had a removable roof, so you could see the sky and Prince’s bed was purple of course and it was heartshaped. Regarding the roof the guy says Per must have tested the button and here Mr. G imitates the sound of the moving roof. Haha. The lady asks Per if he saw Prince’s bathroom and PG says he probably did, but he can’t remember and he doesn’t like to lie.

The guys ask Per about a most memorable story that happened to him related to another famous people. Mr. G tells the story that made him very happy. It was when Marie and him were in Amsterdam in 1989 and they were giving an interview. Someone from above shouted „hey man, I love your record!” and it was Tom Petty. Per shouted back something like „we love your record too!”. That meant a lot to Mr. G. Tom Petty is the best, Per thinks.

One of the guys asks Per how it is when Mr. G goes abroad. In Sweden everyone knows him, but how is it abroad? Per says he doesn’t get recognized abroad or if it happens, it’s mainly Swedish people who recognize him. He tells it’s quite calm in Sweden nowadays, he is most often recognized in Halmstad of course, when e.g. he fuels the car. As a last anecdote, PG tells that appr. half year ago he was walking on Storgatan in Stockholm and a 40-year-old woman asked him if she could take a selfie with Mr. G. He said OK and while they were taking the selfie, two 12-13-year-old boys were passing by, looked suspiciously at Per and asked him if he is famous. Per said how come they didn’t recognize him, he is Foppa (Peter Forsberg, famous Swedish ice hockey player). The kids were like „whaaat?!” and so Per signed their backpacks as “Foppa”. The guys are laughing at the fact that PG didn’t write Foppa on a paper that can be thrown away, but on expensive backpacks. Per laughs and says it was the boys’ punishment. Haha.

At the end the guy asks Per if he has the photo with Paul McCartney on his phone, but Mr. G tells the photo is in his office.

The guys thank PG for coming and Per tells „my pleasure”.

Stills are from the Foppa story video on Morgonpasset i P3’s Instagram.

Tribute concert to Marie Fredriksson during the theme year ”100 women, 100 years”!

Malmö Live Konserthus inaugurates the theme year 100 women, 100 years which aims to strengthen and pay tribute to women in the music industry. During the year, about twenty programs will be presented and one of them is a tribute concert to Marie Fredriksson who was one of Sweden’s foremost singers and songwriters who passed away in 2019. Her career was both great and broad. She wrote, produced, sang and moved between the creation of big hits and finding the fragile and difficult in her lyrics. Via Roxette, she became a world artist.

With a concert in two parts, together with the Malmö Symphony Orchestra and three soloists, she is celebrated on 10th, 11th and 12th March 2022. The concert will be a journey through Marie Fredriksson’s art. Malmö Live Konserthus produces and Christoffer Nobin is the conductor, arranger and author of the idea. His relationship with Marie Fredriksson’s art is deep and has followed him through life.

Christoffer Nobin says:

Her songs and lyrics have been able to describe what I myself have not been able to describe, and her voice has aroused an ecstasy and admiration that only few others can achieve. This world artist, at the same time a mysterious rock star and down-to-earth Scanian girl, has reached hearts all over the world with her unique singing voice and genuine expression.

Soloists will be announced shortly and tickets will be released this autumn. -> UPDATE on 10th November 2021: Helena Josefsson and Amanda Bergman will be on stage!

Tickets are on sale HERE!

Photo is from the press release.

Thanks for the hint, Valeria Zvarova!

Thanks for the hint regarding the ticket sales start, Paula Cafiero Högström!

Update on 13th December:

Loney Dear will also join Helena Josefsson and Amanda Bergman on stage, while Christoffer Lundquist also supports the project. Christoffer Nobin who – besides being the one who came up with the idea – is the conductor and arranger says: „She simply sang fantastically well. She has a directness and an appeal in her voice that makes it strike directly, it feels like a force of nature. There is a simplicity and humanity in her voice, at the same time she was technically proficient. And not least: you always recognize her voice, it’s very unique.”

Helena Josefssson, who is looking very much forward to paying tribute to Marie says: „I think it’s great fun that Marie’s music will be in the focus. I feel we have a lot in common with her, we both come from the band culture, and I think her singing technique was influenced by starting in bad rehearsal rooms. Then you must be able to use your voice in different ways. When I got to tour with Marie for a whole year on Roxette’s last world tour, I got to know her. According to the fans, she became an even more loving person when she came back, and what I saw was a person who really loved to sing for her audience. She was also a very simple person without complicated manners, if there was only simple hot dog after the concert she was happy.”

Helena also remembers with warmth how Marie’s son, Oscar was at several concerts and sat in the dressing room with his mother and patiently helped her practice the lyrics, which became more difficult to remember after her illness: „It must have been fun to see her mother on stage in front of tens of thousands of fans who cheered when she came out. It was probably a great feeling for Marie’s children to see her like this.”

Mats MP Persson on Skiss podcast about himself, Gyllene Tider and Roxette

Musician Morgan Lydemo is doing a podcast, Skiss where he meets influential people from different corners of the music industry, who have managed to develop and build a stable platform for themselves with the help of musical talent, hard work and a sense of entrepreneurship. This time he invited Mats MP Persson who was involved in two of the biggest acts of Swedish music history, to talk about himself, the songs he was involved in, Gyllene Tider, Per Gessle and Roxette. You can listen to the podcast episode HERE.

Morgan introduces MP as a producer, songwriter and musician and is uncertain about Mats being a drummer or a guitarist in the first place. MP tells that in his teens he started out as a drummer, but of course, many know him as the guitarist in Gyllene Tider. Morgan tells MP is recording most of the demos of Per Gessle and he asks Mats if he is also doing the final production of the songs. MP tells final production he doesn’t do so often, but last year they recorded a home-made solo album for Per and that was mastered by MP. Demos are recorded at his studio since the early 80’s and it’s fun that they are also released on albums to show how the songs started out. Some are very much produced, some are very simple.

MP tells that at high school he played in a band as a drummer. The bassist, Peter Nilsson was friends with Per Gessle and Per visited them at their rehearsal studio in the attic of MP’s grandma’s house. MP thinks Per changed then completely. Until then he was sitting at home translating Leonard Cohen lyrics, listening to David Bowie, playing a nylon-string guitar nicely, but the rock ’n’ roll experience in the rehearsal studio changed him and he thought that was what he wanted to do.

Morgan asks MP if one can say that he is Per Gessle’s right hand both in Gyllene Tider and Roxette. MP says Per writes a lot himself, but it happened that MP had some ideas before PG started writing and Per thought those were fun to build on. When that happens, both of them are stated as composers of the song. Regarding their collaboration, Mats says it can only work well if you realize that making it together is one step ahead vs. if you are doing it on your own and the other is doing it on his own. Then the collaboration is perfect. Morgan notices that if they have been working together since so long, it must be working fine between them. MP adds of course there are discussions like could we change this or that, related to the arrangement or so and it’s fun. MP has a well-isolated studio and he thinks his stuff there simply fits Per quite well. Often when Per comes to the studio, MP just puts on the right microphone capsule and Per sounds absolutely fantastic, his voice. Per feels safe there and has MP as a sounding board when he sings. Per decides 80% himself and then asks MP for his opinion.

Morgan asks MP how it was to start a band when they started playing together, how different it was vs. nowadays. MP says he hasn’t really been following the music scene nowadays, but today it’s more about computers and music programs, back then it was a must to build a band, have a rehearsal studio, rehearse a lot and do something that no one else was doing or at least do it better than anyone else, create your own identity. The lead singer often became the face of the band. You had to play a lot to be better and better at playing your instrument. It cost a lot of efforts, but if you were talented, it was probably all worth it.

Morgan says Halmstad has always been a big music scene. MP says he and Per were influenced by the punk era at the end of the 70’s, the sound was awesome, they thought. There were a lot of bands in Halmstad those days.

Morgan compares Gyllene Tider to ABBA in the sense that they weren’t so popular in the homefront. MP says GT was on TV on Måndagsbörsen in 1980 and played some songs there. Everyone in Sweden was watching that TV program back then. Himmel No. 7 and Flickorna på TV2 were already out on a single. They picked Himmel No. 7 as the A side, but Flickorna på TV2 was played at discos in Stockholm, so there was a second release of the single as a double A side. They had a huge break-through then and played live on TV. It was awesome. One could see what effect appearing live on a TV show had back then. There were only two TV channels those days.

They were touring, they rehearsed a lot in the studio and they weren’t really social, but had their close friends around them. MP tells that in another sound recording they talked about 1978-79 when they spent ten thousand hours at the rehearsal studio. They were there every day instead of going to the soccer field or running after girls. The money they earned with their summer jobs they spent on strings and cables. They were really focused. MP thinks it comes from those days that whenever they sit down to play together, it’s still there. All of them 5 ride in the same tempo and everyone strives towards one aim. When there is e.g. another drummer or bassist playing those songs, it’s different. Not better or worse, just different. The beat is not the same. All 5 of them live different lives, but when they get together there is a smile on their faces and they know they are there for the sake of music.

Morgan says Listen To Your Heart is probably the most known song MP composed together with Per. He asks MP to mention some more Roxette songs where he was co-writer. Mats mentions (Do You Get) Excited? and Spending My Time from the Joyride album. As per Gyllene Tider, he can’t remember anymore, but it was mainly their first album, e.g. Flickorna på TV2, Ska vi älska, så ska vi älska till Buddy Holly, (Dansar inte lika bra som) Sjömän.

Getting back to LTYH, Morgan asks MP to tell the story of the song, how it was written. MP remembers that they were sitting in the studio in Gullbrandstorp or Styrdal in 1988. MP recorded something on the sequencer, what became the verse part of LTYH, one can say. Per came in with a paper and wanted to record something totally different, but he asked what that was. He thought the melody could work with the text he had on the paper. He put the paper to the side and they started working with the melody. For the next day, Per added another part and they did a simple demo. It’s Per who is singing on the demo. MP says it felt like a little happy accident, because if Per hadn’t entered the studio when Mats was playing that melody, maybe it would have never turned up.

Talking about the studio work, Morgan asks MP if he thinks the new generation is missing anything when it comes to the old studio techniques. MP says that in a way it’s fun to have the limitations of tapes and distortions and such things. When they started, he didn’t have a 24-track multitrack recorder, but an 8-channel recorder, then in 1989 they upgraded to a 16-track recorder and used it until 1998. Now it’s computers and it’s much easier to manipulate the sounds. Morgan says it’s easy to sound good nowadays. MP agrees. Mats adds that it’s e.g. fun for him if there are 4 choruses in a song, he wants to record all four. Copy-paste of course saves time, but it’s more fun in the old school way.

Morgan asks for some basic tips from MP as producer and technician for those musicians who would like to build their own studio. What is what they should think about in the first place. MP repeats that when they started they had a simple mixer and an 8-channel recorder. He adds tips about microphones and amps. He says he still likes coloured sounds, which can e.g. be a strange frequency or a certain distortion. It’s so easy with the plug-ins nowadays. One has to test them.

Morgan asks MP about GT’s break-up in 1985, how it was and how it felt. MP says it was a horrible feeling. They all felt that they had reached a career that they couldn’t top. Before that, they felt they did everything they could in Sweden, so they recorded an English album, The Heartland Café under the name Roxette, not Golden Times. MP thinks the album sounds quite good, but what they did before was not reflected on that album. It became a mini LP with 6 songs in the US, but it didn’t sell at all. Anders wanted to leave the band, so they broke-up in 1985. For Per then came Roxette, a collaboration with Marie Fredriksson, trying something in English with her. It was fun, MP says and in the end, GT’s break-up was a milestone in Roxette’s history. MP adds he started working at Halmstad airport at the time to be on the safe side, so he was recording demos with Per and working at the airport.

Morgan asks MP about GT’s comebacks too. Mats says that in 1989 both he and Per turned 30, then Roxette was on tour for a long time, then they made the album Crash! Boom! Bang! and went on tour again. Then there was a pause and there was this Halmstad All Stars happening at Stora torg in Halmstad in 1995 and the guys in GT were asked if they could put together something for that event. It became so huge that journalists wrote it was time for a comeback of GT. So the guys decided for what became Återtåget and it was fantastic with sold out concerts all around.

There was a longer break when Marie got ill and Per did his Mazarin album in Christoffer Lundquist’s studio in 2002 and went on tour in the summer of 2003. Then came the idea to celebrate GT’s 25th anniversary in 2004. They wanted to do the same size tour as Återtåget was, but they had to book football stadiums instead. So instead of venues of 10.000 they played venues of 20-25.000, then there was Stockholm Stadium and Ullevi too. It was totally crazy, of course.

Mats remembers Marie was a secret guest at their last show on the Återtåget tour at Brottet in Halmstad and it was fun when she was singing a verse of När alla vännerna gått hem. It was like being on a completely different planet. It gives you goosebumps, Morgan says, she was one of the best singers.

MP says there are a lot of things and happenings that became really successful, but all projects take a lot of time and energy. In between their big GT tours they didn’t do anything related to Gyllene Tider. What MP thinks is that a lot of people who listened to them in the beginning of the 80’s are the same age as them 5 and as they got older, they would have also loved to relive their youth. They have now kids and grandchildren and the guys can see that there are different generations at their shows. They are very fortunate. Before they got their record contract in 1979, they – mainly Per – sent mails to e.g Mats Olsson at Expressen, to Aftonbladet, to record labels they also sent cassettes again and again and again, quite frequently. It was kind of a ritual every wekk. One doesn’t have this kind of energy nowadays. They thought they had something in them, they believed in themselves.

Their songs live their own lives, new generations are also listening to them. Morgan says they are evergreens. Mats tells when they were recording Puls, they were looking for a sound and they were inspired by the big American sound that Tom Petty represented. When they thought they were ready, Kjell Andersson at EMI said there was no hit on the album. They needed a hit for the summer. Then Per went and wrote Sommartider, so that was the last song they recorded and it became a huge hit.

Morgan asks MP to tell some more anecdotes he thinks would be interesting for the listeners to hear. MP laughs and says there are some he can’t tell. He says many thought they had a lot of girls around them, a girlfriend here and there, but it wasn’t the case. They were really nice and good guys and were focusing on their job. MP also talks about touring in the 80’s and that they had the same financial management as Björn Skifs.

At the end of the interview Morgan asks MP to pick one option from two made-up happenings (related to music and Gyllene Tider) and then pick another one from other two made-up stories and here it turns out that MP played the trumpet until the age of 15, but he can’t really play the violin.

Morgan asks for some closing thoughts and MP says to play music for people who enjoy it is pure happiness and so satisfying. Music spreads joy, he thinks.

Pic by Patrícia Peres, Ronneby, GT40 tour 2019

Roxette and related artists in Kjell Andersson’s memoir

Kjell Andersson, former Head of A&R and producer at EMI Sweden published his autobiography, Ingen går hel ur det här – Mitt liv i den svenska musiken on 8th February 2021. Over 40 years in the music industry, Kjell worked together with many of Sweden’s greatest artists. To name a few: Per Gessle, Gyllene Tider, Marie Fredriksson, Roxette, Mauro Scocco, Eva Dahlgren, Wilmer X, Björn Skifs, Ulf Lundell etc. In his book he writes parallel stories of different artists over the decades.

Even if the main line is not Roxette-related, there are either longer stories from our idols’ lives, mainly the early career of GT, PG, Marie and Roxette, or shorter stories, when Marie’s or Per’s ways crossed other artists’ paths or they joined projects of various artists. Most of the stories hardcore fans have heard already, but it’s always interesting to hear them from another person’s, another participant’s point of view or hear anecdotes related to happenings we’ve heard about.

I will of course highlight only parts where either Roxette or Gyllene Tider or Marie Fredriksson or Per Gessle is written about – for all non-Swedish speaker fans –, but I recommend reading the book in case you are interested in Swedish music history and you want to practice your Swedish. It’s a very informative reading not only about Kjell Andersson’s life, but tons of artists and the Swedish music industry as well. A real history book in a way.

GYLLENE TIDER

The yellow EP

Kjell writes about how his cooperation started with Gyllene Tider. He received a home-made yellow vinyl EP in January 1979. It contained 5 songs of a band from Halmstad. When Kjell listened to it, he got stuck with Billy. He thought there were vague, yet noticeable, traces of a young John Holm in the singer. Kjell played the EP to his close colleagues at the company and also sent a cassette copy to Ulf Lundell. Calle Bengtsson (photographer) could hear what Kjell heard, but no one else heard the potential. Not yet. Kjell decided to call the number attached to the EP. Per’s mother picked up the phone in their Halmstad home. Kjell asked her if Per was at home and Mamma Elisabeth told him Per was sleeping, but she could wake him up, it was past 12 anyway. Haha. Per came to the phone and Kjell introduced himself. He can’t remember what they talked about, but he told Per he liked their EP and asked if there were more strong songs. Per replied ”There are as many as you want… and only hits!”

Kjell says the guys were determined and anything else in their lives was secondary back then. A couple of weeks later Kjell got a cassette from them and hearing the new demos he realized another side of Gyllene Tider, a playful side. Kjell realized that instead of finding a young John Holm, he came into contact with a young pop band that sounded like a mix of Elvis Costello & The Attractions and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.

He played the demos for Lasse Lindbom and Lasse thought there was something in the band, but had to go down to Harplinge to listen to them and then they convinced him. However, he was hesitant to the pop star potential of the singer. Haha.

According to Kjell:

If Springsteen’s Born To Run – according to Greil Marcus in Rolling Stone – is a 1957 Chevrolet running on melted down Crystals, then Gyllene Tider is a rusty Volvo Amazon from the end of the 60’s driven by old Tom Petty, Hep Stars and Nick Lowe vinyls.

Debut single and first LP

Gyllene Tider’s debut single, Himmel No. 7 was released at the end of 1979 with Flickorna på TV2 on the B side. Kjell swears it was planned to be a double A side single, but the record pressing plant in Åmål couldn’t handle double A sides, they got confused. Everyone started playing Flickorna på TV2 , it became a megahit. At some point in the book Kjell adds that it was Niklas Strömstedt who as a DJ first heard the single potential in the song.

The band’s debut album came out in February 1980. It became a huge success.

Moderna Tider

In the summer of 1980 it was time to start recording Gyllene Tider’s second album. Per and MP claimed all songs they wrote were ready and as usual, Per said they are all hits. As soon as Kjell received the demos he listened to them with high hopes, but thought they were terrible. Per stayed with the subject (teenage sex) that worked in their first hits. Kjell thought it seemed like GT’s own parody. He thought Gyllene Tider was much bigger than that.

Kjell called Per and told him his opinion. Per thought 2 months of work was flushed down and it was a diabolic slap while GT were the biggest in Sweden. Kjell thought and still thinks the real diabolic slap would have been if they released the LP with those songs from the first demos.

So the guys started from scratch and by early autumn there were new songs and the recordings for Moderna Tider began. The lead single, När vi två blir en was released in October 1980. When Kjell played it in the office, a girl from the finance department stopped and asked what he was playing. Kjell thinks that’s always a good sign when someone from the „outside” reacts in a positive way, because they are listening to the songs like everyday people, not like those who are dealing with repertoires all the time and thinking and analyzing the songs too much.

Puls

The guys wanted to make GT’s third LP a Swedish pop classic. Per wrote a series of strong and inspirational pop songs: (Hon vill ha) Puls, Vän till en vän and Vandrar i ett sommarregn. Kjell’s favourite from the album is Händerna, but he thinks Puls lacked the charm, joy of playing and spontaneity of the debut album. It often happens when you want to make a masterpiece, you forget to have fun.

When the album was ready, everyone was satisfied with the result, but a single was missing. Kjell was standing in the bus stop Solna Centrum on a sunny spring morning, waiting for bus 503 to EMI and he was thinking about song titles. He thought they needed a summer single – summer and Gyllene Tider – En gyllene sommar (A Golden Summer)? He had some more titles popping up in his head, but he got stuck with Sommartider in the end. Kjell called Per and told him about his idea. Per liked it and immediately wrote a bubblegum pop song.

The Heartland Café

After all their success, GT wanted to go international and record an English album. They were on tours all around in Sweden, they beat the audience record and felt there was nothing more to reach in Sweden. So they recorded The Heartland Café. The album was released as a mini LP with six songs in the US under the name Roxette (from Wilko Johnson’s Dr. Feelgood song). Nothing happened.

Återtåget

Halmstads pärlor – Samtliga hits! 1979-95 was released in May 1995 and Gyllene Tider did a gig on Stora torg in Halmstad in front of 18,000 people and the band was challenged to do a summer tour, which came to life next year. Before the tour, a newly recorded EP with two new hits was released: Gå & fiska! and Juni, juli, augusti. Kjell thinks it’s a perfect pop EP. The tour became a huge success, beating audience records all over the country.

Finn 5 fel!

GT started recording a new album in February 2004 at Aerosol Grey Machine, Christoffer Lundquist’s studio in Vollsjö. Per wanted to release an EP only, but Kjell was nagging an album. Maybe he pushed Per hard he thinks when he is listening to the LP today. It doesn’t stick together like an album should, some songs feel like they are leftovers from Mazarin. The band chemistry was still there though.

Ullevi 2004

GT set a new audience record at Ullevi in 2004. Kjell was there and it was an uplifting experience for him – from a phone call on a winter morning in 1979 to this. He doesn’t say that Gyllene Tider is his creation or that gig wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t called and woke Per up on that January day in 1979. He is convinced that they would have suceeded anyway. The band’s talent and Per’s and MP’s songs would have probably brought them to that magical evening in Gothenburg on other paths as well. Media or the music industry wouldn’t have missed the natural forces of their magnitude.

MARIE FREDRIKSSON

MaMas Barn

Kjell remembers he heard Marie in MaMas Barn first. He got to know her via Gyllene Tider, because they shared rehearsal studio in the basement of Harplinge’s school. According to Kjell, their strongest song was Det är svårt att bryta upp, a piano ballad Marie herself sang.

It serves as a sample for what she does later. The ingredients are there, Marie’s building blocks: melancholy, contact with the listener and her peculiar warmth and sincerity.

Solo debut

Kjell tells that Marie and Lasse met for the first time when the Lasse Lindbom Band recorded their Romantisk blackout LP. When Lasse couldn’t find a singer to sing duet on Så nära nu, he asked Per to contact Marie and then she sang the duet with Lasse. She sounded young, nervous and extremely enthusiastic, according to Kjell.

When later Marie and Lasse Lindbom became a couple, Marie wanted to be signed by EMI. Lasse found a song he worked on before, but never finished. It didn’t even have a title or a text. Marie loved the melody and wrote lyrics to it. Ännu doftar kärlek became Marie’s debut single as a solo artist in 1984.

Kjell says that from all the artists he had worked together with during his 40 years in the business, Marie was the biggest riddle to him.

Everyone who meets her likes her, even loves her! Even me. She is warm and personal, but at the same time distanced and shy. I can’t state that I know her. I know limited parts of her, her sides she decided to show over the years, but a big part of Marie as a person is a mystery and will always be.

Marie has the peculiar ability only a few artists have; she can sing a catalogue and make the text sound personal, heartfelt, warm and even poetic. When she sings in Swedish, she is undisguised and open like a child or an old person who no longer has anything to hide. How she expresses herself hits the listener in the heart, it’s impossible to defend yourself.

Den sjunde vågen, Efter stormen

Den sjunde vågen was inspired by Henri Charrière’s novel, Papillon which Marie was reading during her journey with Lasse to the Canary Islands to write material for the record. The novel is about a man who escaped from Devil’s Island, a French penal colony of French Guiana. Marie was inspired by the idea that the sea waves had a pattern: every seventh wave was the biggest and the process is repeated forever.

According to Kjell, Marie’s self-esteem and expressing herself improved by every album. Den sjunde vågen was a big step after Het vind and Efter stormen was even bigger. These two LP’s were very important on the way to Marie’s perfection, artistic flowering, her modern and anxious tour blues album, Den ständiga resan.

Regarding the Efter stormen cover photo Kjell says that Marie had a principle those days: Marie in Roxette and Marie as a solo artist dress differently. In Roxette she was modern, wearing e.g. the type of leather jacket she wears in the video of Neverending Love, while as a solo artist, she was more casual, wearing jeans and sweater. This difference disappeared over the years.

Den ständiga resan

Kjell says Marie chose music to convey her tour blues feelings related to the Join the Joyride World Tour and Den ständiga resan became a dark self-portrait. The lyrics are direct, not poetic and that makes them credible.

Marie wrote the songs on airplanes, at airports, in hotel rooms, on tour buses. She recorded the melodies and parts of the lyrics on a little tape recorder she always had with her. On the tapes one can hear the landing and departure messages through the airport loudspeakers.

It was an important album for Marie. She wanted to show that she is more than the extraordinary voice singing Per Gessle’s songs in Roxette.

Äntligen

After New Year in 2000, the CEO at EMI realized that it would be difficult to reach the budget in the financial year, so he asked Kjell if he had any ideas that could help. Kjell and Rolf talked about a Marie compilation album, but the timing never fit. Kjell then called Marie to ask what she thought about it and Marie was positive. Kjell asked if she wanted to write a new song that could be a single and the opening song. Marie wrote Äntligen and recorded it with Micke. The compilation album was released in March and it sold 160,000 copies until summer, so the budget was safe.

The album was such a great success in spring that Marie’s first solo tour in eight years was also planned for the summer.

Nu!

In June 2013 Kjell was invited – together with Marie Dimberg and Thomas Johansson – to Marie’s and Micke’s house in Djursholm to listen to their recordings for a new album then called Vad vore jag utan dig. Kjell was interested in Marie’s songs, but to his surprise, when he asked Marie how many songs she had written for the album, she replied „one and a half”. Kjell doesn’t know what happened to that half song.

Kjell told his opinion, both positive and negative. He stayed honest, but minded his words knowing the difficult times Marie and Micke had gone through. The most important and biggest critique was about the title. „What would I be without you” can’t be an album title, he thought. He asked Marie and Micke to send him the lyrics of all songs, so he would search among the lines for title options.

According to Kjell, as a whole, the album lacks Marie’s brushstrokes, her words, motifs and colours. There is a sense of art falsification, when you are trying to recreate an artist’s expressions. The only song Marie wrote for this album is Sista sommarens vals.

PER GESSLE

Solo debut

All GT guys – except Per – went to the obligatory military service in January 1983. Per released his first solo album instead, a singer-songwriter record, which was probably rather Kjell’s idea than Per’s. Kjell admits that it wasn’t this type of music that made Per unique and world famous.

He is not a rock poet or a troubadour, rather a composer genious and a pop thief of the highest caliber. Per is young, 24 years old, it’s not in his nature to write open and self-disclosing texts that make this genre interesting. His lyrics seek melancholy and romance.

Scener

Kjell says Per’s second solo album is unbalanced, heading into several directions simultaneously. Per didn’t know which way to choose. When the recordings started, it was just a side project that he could afford himself next to GT’s success, but it suddenly became his future after Anders left Gyllene Tider. Kjell’s favourite from this album is Blå december.

Son Of A Plumber

Kjell says Per made Son of a Plumber for himself. He wanted to challenge himself, as well as his audience to dare to go even further into that dream he had lived so long. SOAP is a sentimental journey back to the past, a map of all the pop music Per grew up with and worshiped.

For Kjell it’s SOAP, GT’s first three albums and Per’s solo debut album where he shows himself and his songwriting genius most clearly. He thinks SOAP was one of the strongest pop albums during the EMI years.

En händig man

Kjell thinks it’s difficult to follow up on a success like Mazarin. Ideas get thought out and it loses the spontaneous and natural. EHM lacks the unforced charm of its predecessor. According to Kjell, Per’s music is the best when it’s spontaneous and he plays his way through small light clouds, among new ideas and old influences and steals bits from his favourites.

ROXETTE

Neverending Love

Kjell tells that Rolf Nygren had the idea that Marie and Per should sing together. He thought that Marie could lift Per’s songs to a totally different level when she was singing on his demos. During that period in 1986 Per was writing songs for other artists. Svarta glas he wrote for Pernilla Wahlgren, but she didn’t want to record it. Per sent the demo to Rolf with the following text attached: „You always tell we should make an English single when we have the right song. What do you think about the attached tape?” Rolf thought the song was a hit and Per shouldn’t give away such strong song to another artist. PG wrote an English text to it and the song became Neverending Love.

Per needed a new producer. Kjell heard a Py Bäckman single that was produced by Clarence Öfwerman. Kjell knew Clarence as the pianist in Raj Montana and from Ulf Lundell’s autumn tour leg. The three guys met at Café Opera and Per and Clarence found each other despite the fact that they were coming from different musical worlds.

Kjell wasn’t the most positive about the idea of Marie and Per working together. Marie started her solo career with two albums and for Kjell the Swedish market was the territory he understood the most. He thought the international market was an unrealistic dream and he also had low confidence in international EMI.

Kjell suggested they should handle the Roxette project as a test. Their names weren’t written on the single and the sleeve illustration was a couple’s picture taken from a 40’s American weekly newspaper Kjell found in the attic. There was a rule for Roxette: Marie and Per not to be launched as a couple, no passionate duets.

Neverending Love became a hit in Sweden and Roxette started recording Pearls of Passion from the material that was meant to be Per’s third solo album. Clarence brought his musician friends: Jonas Isacsson (guitar), Pelle Alsing (drums) and Tommy Cassemar (bass). Kjell thinks the undisguised in Marie’s voice was partly lost in English, but her passion survived.

Look Sharp!

Kjell tells Roxette’s second LP had Paint as the title for a long time. Per wanted to keep up with the period’s machine-produced pop music and wanted to use drum machines, sequencers and synths. Anders Herrlin had been working with machines since a while, so he was asked to do the programming.

The album sleeve, The Daily Roxette was inspired by Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick and John & Yoko’s Some Time in New York City. Marie Dimberg wrote the texts and Kjell built up a newspaper front page. Eminent fashion photographer, Mikael Jansson took the picture. Kjell asked colleagues from the company to be there as extras on the photos next to professional models. Marie Dimberg also appears on the sleeve photo, Alar Suurna became a press photographer, Clarence Öfwerman is the driver on the pic.

Joyride

Kjell tells Per read an interview in Musician with Paul McCartney where he said writing songs with John Lennon was a joyride. Per thought this expression described the feeling he wanted Roxette’s music to convey: joy, excitement and adventure. Joyride contains Kjell’s most favourite Roxette song, Watercolours in the Rain, to which Per wrote the lyrics and Marie wrote the music.

It’s the best-selling album of Roxette and the best-selling album in Kjell’s EMI career. Kjell remembers that before Christmas 1991 Per called him to thank for the year and to wish him merry Christmas and happy new year. Kjell told him he must be satisfied with the album sales, 300,000 copies in Sweden. Per said not really, he thought it could be double. Kjell thought Per was crazy, but by the end of next year the album sold 600,000 copies in Sweden.

Tourism

Kjell calls Tourism his „gold mine”. Per wanted to release a double live LP from the Join the Joyride tour. Rolf and Kjell were hesitant to the idea. On a studio meeting Kjell could convince Per to make a tour LP instead.

That was the first and last time Rolf gave royalty to Kjell. The album sold 6 million copies around the world and Kjell received 3 million SEK. He bought his first apartment in Stockholm from that money.

Crash! Boom! Bang!

While the band was in Capri to record Crash! Boom! Bang!, Kjell got countless reports about how good things were going and that it doesn’t sound like anything else before. When they got back and the team listened to it at EMI, Kjell was disappointed. If he hadn’t received all the positive reports, he would have probably reacted differently. The album contained rather ballads and it needed an uptempo song, a single. Per agreed with Kjell in the end and the day after he called Kjell to tell that he wrote a new song, Sleeping in My Car.

Have A Nice Day

Kjell tells his influence in the circle around Roxette diminished over the years. He ended up in the group that listened to Per’s demos and told what they thought about the songs, but nothing more. When it came to the cover of Have A Nice Day, Per and Marie chose Kjell’s colleague, Karl-Magnus.

Kjell hoped that Roxette would make an album where Marie would get as much space as a composer as Per, they would be less formatted and allow greater stylistic differences. Like a late Fleetwood Mac with three songwriters, Roxette could have done it with two equivalent composers who coexisted within a more spacious framework. Kjell says he got no response to his ideas and he lost interest in the upcoming albums.

 

These are only excerpts from the book mainly for the non-Swedish speaker fans, but there are many more little details in this memoir. Details like the inspiration for the lights settings in Roxette’s She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore video or techniques used during recording sessions, as well as ideas of photo shootings for album and single covers, and of course, more of Kjell’s personal opinions, just to mention a few. So one day, if you have the chance, I suggest you read this book, published by Albert Bonniers Förlag. You can order it from Ginza or buy it in Swedish book stores.