Marie Fredriksson, the female lead singer of Swedish pop group Roxette, has died at age 61. The band’s manager confirmed the news in a statement, revealing that Fredriksson passed away on Monday (Dec. 9) following a “17-year long battle with cancer.” According to a statement, “In 2002, Marie was diagnosed with a severe brain tumor, receiving an aggressive treatment that took its toll but ultimately was successful.”
Fredriksson and Per Gessle formed the pop group in 1986 and went on to record a string of beloved hits, beginning with 1989’s fizzy “The Look,” the first of four No. 1 singles on the U.S.-based Billboard Hot 100, a run that also included “Listen to Your Heart,” “Joyride” and their titanic hit ballad, “It Must Have Been Love,” which was later featured in the hit film Pretty Woman. After her initial diagnosis and treatment that reportedly left her nearly blind in one eye and with limited hearing, Fredriksson returned to the stage for a Roxette comeback tour in 2009.
“The unlikely second coming of Roxette resulted in several new albums, and tours that again put the duo in front of screaming, smiling and crying crowds all over the world,” read the statement from the group’s Dimberg Jernberg Management team. “During the comeback years Marie was an amazing trooper, overcoming the many rigors of touring in order to meet her fans on stage again and again. But by 2016, the show was finally over when Marie´s doctors advised her to stop touring and focus on her health.”
Gessle paid tribute to his musical partner in an emotional statement that read: “Time goes by so quickly. It’s not that long ago we spent days and nights in my tiny apartment in Halmstad, listening to music we loved, sharing impossible dreams. And what a dream we eventually got to share!” he wrote. “Thank you, Marie, thanks for everything. You were an outstanding musician, a master of the voice, an amazing performer. Thanks for painting my black and white songs in the most beautiful colours. You were the most wonderful friend for over 40 years. 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.”
Jonas Siljemark, president of Warner Music Nordics also paid tribute to Fredriksson, writing, “We’re deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Marie Fredriksson. She was an amazing artist who touched the lives of people around the world and leaves behind an incredible musical legacy. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.” Fredriksson’s funeral will be a private, family-only ceremony.
Roxette broke through through in 1988 with their second album, Look Sharp!, which featured “Listen To Your Heart” and “The Look.” The group managed to break through in the United States after an American exchange student bought the album in Sweden and brought it home, where he promptly gave it to a DJ at a Minneapolis top 40 station, where it went into rotation, landing the group their long-sought American recording contract. The duo went on to eight more albums, with 2016’s Good Karma serving as their swan song.
Watch some of Roxette’s video below.