On the surface, Marie Fredriksson, might look a little too glossy for a punkgirldiaries blog post – but before finding success as the peroxide half of Roxette, Marie was a member of one of Scandinavia’s first punk rock bands, which in our books makes her a Swedish Punk girl.
Fronting the band Strul, which is the Swedish word for “hassle”, the band were distinctly Europunk in their approach, but despite their not very punk rock haircuts, they possessed that punk energy and DIY enthusiasm, which led them to curate their own “Strulfestivalen” music festival, which ran for three consecutive years from 1979 to 1981.
As Strul’s founder member, singer, keyboard player and songwriter Marie, along with her then boyfriend Stefan Dernbradt, enjoyed moderate success in their home country, but finding there was ultimately something of a niche market for Swedish new wave, they disbanded in 1981.
After a period of solo releases and collaborations, during which time Marie bagged herself several Swedish Top Ten hits and awards, EMI Sweden, acting as matchmakers, put her in the studio with fellow Swede, Per Gessle. In 1986 they released an album, “Neverending Love” under the name Roxette.
It was a hit in Sweden, as was their second album, 1989’s “Look Sharp”.
Now comfortably established as one of Sweden’s top pop acts, Roxette ultimately faced a future of having their chart stats unfavourably compared to Abba. But by the late 1980s, Roxette’s world was about to get a little bigger. In 1989 and despite not having a US record deal, allegedly having been previously dismissed as “unsuitable” for the American market (more brilliant A&R-ing) Roxette unexpectedly found that they had crept into the Billboard Hot 100. Within 8 weeks their single “The Look” had topped the charts in 25 countries, and the album “Look Sharp” went onto sell over 9 million copies worldwide.
The next album Joyride went even further, selling an astounding 11 million copies worldwide, and cementing Marie as one of those era defining artists of the MTV age.
Like her contemporaries Annie Lennox, or Cyndi Lauper, Marie’s early punk rock leanings, were still in evidence, ten years after the fact. With her Billy Idol hair, androgenous clothes and soaring vocals, that original A&R “wisdom” couldn’t have been more wrong. Roxette became the most Swedish all-American band ever, racking up thousands of plays on MTV, where their videos became a permanent fixture.
Despite her illness, Marie continued to record right up until 2018, and no doubt there was still so much more to come – maybe not at the giddy heights of peak period Roxette, but definitely from the heart.
Marie Fredriksson 1958 – 2019 – singer, songwriter, musician, influencer and punkgirl.