RIP Marie Fredriksson — Roxette Singer Dead At 61

"It must have been love but it's over now..."

How Did Marie Fredriksson Die? New Details On Death Of Roxette Singer At 61 Getty

Roxette singer Marie Fredriksson has died at 61. The singer rose to fame in the 1980s and 1990s with songs like "It Must Have Been Love" and "The Look." Her iconic short spiky blonde hair was instantly recognizable.

How did Marie Fredricksson die?

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Marie Fredriksson's management team, Dimberg Jernberg Mgt., confirmed her death with a statement that reads in part, "It is with great sadness we have to announce that Marie Fredriksson of Roxette has passed away in the morning of December 9, following a 17-year long battle with cancer."

Fredriksson was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2002. She kept recording and touring with her Roxette bandmate Per Gessle until 2016 when her doctor advised her to stop touring. Fredriksson and Gessle canceled their then-upcoming 30th Anniversary tour

Let's take a look at the life and career of Roxette singer Marie Fredriksson.


1. She grew up poor in the south of Sweden.

Marie Fredriksson was born May 30, 1958, near the small Swedish village of Össjö. When she was four, her family moved to the small town of Östra Ljungby, where her dad took a job as a postman and her mom worked in a factory.

When Marie was seven, her older sister Anna-Lisa was killed in a car crash. She was on her way to buy a dress for her engagement party. In a 2017 interview, Marie said of her sister, "She was 20 — and I can barely remember her today. But I remember the grief, how the family was torn apart. Completely. After that, I had to fend for myself. I was only seven years old."

2. Marie Fredriksson got her start in a punk band.

After Fredriksson graduated in 1977 she moved to Halmstad, Sweden. She got her start in the local indie music scene when she formed the punk group Strul in 1978 with her then-boyfriend Stefan Dernbrandt. Her future Roxette bandmate Per Gessle was also part of the band for a bit. The band put together an independent music festival in 1979 called Strulfestivalen, which ran every summer for three years and was a financial success for the band. 

The group got their first recording contract in 1981. Eventually, Dernbrandt exited the band when he and Fredriksson broke up. She continued to perform with Strul, which means "hassle" in English. The band released their final album in November 1982. Though it was a critical success, it only sold about 1,000 copies. Strul broke up shortly after. 


3. Roxette was formed in 1986.

After Strul, Fredriksson achieved success as a solo artist in Sweden. Her debut single, "Still the Scent of Love," dropped in May 1984 and became a top 20 hit on Sweden's national record chart. Her debut album, "Hot Wind," was released in September 1984 and also peaked in the top 20.

In 1986, an executive for EMI Sweden suggested that Fredriksson and her former Strul bandmate Per Gessle record one of his songs in English. The resulting single, "Neverending Love," was released under the name Roxette in July 1986. That song peaked at number three on the Swedish singles charts that year, making it one of the most popular songs of the year.

Roxette's debut album Pearls of Passion was a huge success as well after its October 1986 release. It peaked at number two in Sweden but failed to break through internationally. 



A post shared by Marie Fredriksson (@mariefredrikssonoficial) on Dec 10, 2019 at 5:15am PST

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4. An executive at EMI called Roxette "unsuitable for the American market."

In January 1989, Roxette released "The Look" as the third single from the album Look Sharp!. It was a top 10 hit upon release in Sweden. In February 1989 that song entered the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. despite the band not having an American recording contract. It turns out an exchange student took Roxette's song to a Minneapolis radio station, which started playing "The Look" and turned it into a hit locally.  

An EMI executive had previously rejected Roxette as "unsuitable for the American market." Well, Roxette had the last laugh when "The Look" was the number one song in the U.S. after eight weeks. The song eventually went on to achieve the number one spot in 25 countries.

Roxette's second single, "Listen to Your Heart," was the duo's second number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Roxette had four number one hits between 1989-1991. Roxette saw even more success and exposure when "It Must Have Been Love" was featured in the 1990 film Pretty Woman starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. 

5. Marie Fredriksson was diagnosed with cancer in 2002 after a seizure revealed a malignant brain tumor.

In September 2002, Marie Fredriksson had a seizure in her bathroom and cracked her skull. She had an MRI and found out she had a brain tumor. She was given a 25 percent chance of survival. She underwent treatment for cancer and returned to the stage in 2009.


The complications from Fredriksson's illness made it difficult for her to learn new lyrics. However, she remembered all the Roxette hits. In a 2012 interview, Gessle said, “Touring makes her feel incredible. She gets so much back from the audience — it’s like she’s in the world’s oddest rehab.” 

Fredriksson continued to record and tour, both with Roxette and solo, until she was forced to retire in 2016. Roxette released their final album, Good Karma, that same year.

6. Per Gessle paid tribute to his longtime bandmate.

Fredriksson's Roxette bandmate Per Gessle issued a statement after her death


"Time goes by so fast. “It feels like just recently when Marie and I were sitting in my little apartment in Halmstad sharing dreams. And what a fantastic dream we got to share! Thank you Marie, thank you for everything. You were a truly unique musician, a singer on a level we will hardly ever experience again. You painted my black and white songs with the most beautiful colors. 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.”

7. How did Marie Fredriksson die?

Marie Fredriksson battled cancer and the health complications from her treatment for her brain tumor for 17 years before dying suddenly on December 9th. She is survived by her husband, music producer Mikael Bolyos.

Fredriksson and Bolyos met when Roxette was on tour in Australia in 1990. It was love at first sight. They married 48 hours after they met. The couple had two children, Josefin and Oscar. 

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Amy Lamare is a writer covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.