Roxette singer Marie Fredriksson, the Swedish star who achieved worldwide fame with such hits as “Joyride” and “It Must Have Been Love,” has died at age 61 after a 17-year battle with cancer.
“It is with great sadness that we have to announce that one of our biggest and most beloved artists is gone,” her family said in a statement to Swedish newspaper Expressen.
Her bandmate Per Gessle called Fredriksson “the most wonderful friend for over 40 years. Things will never be the same.”
The singer, who died Monday, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2002, lost the vision in her right eye and given a 25 percent chance of survival — but managed to perform until 2016, when she retired because of the effects of her illness, the BBC reported.
“It’s been an amazing 30 years! I feel nothing but joy and happiness when I look back on the Roxette world tours. All our shows and memories over the years will forever be a big part of my life,” said the singer at the time, according to Newsweek.
“I’m particularly proud and grateful for coming back in 2009 after my severe illness and to have been able to take Roxette around the globe a couple of more times.”
Fredriksson and Gessle first met in the 1970s when she was a member of the pop group Strul & Ma Mas Barn and he was playing with Gyllene Tider.
They formed their pop and soft rock duo Roxette in 1986 and quickly shot to fame with the single “Neverending Love” and the album “Pearls of Passion.”
Despite their success in Scandinavia, Capitol Records declined to release their records in the US.
But their fortunes changed when an American student studying in Sweden brought a copy of their second album home to Minneapolis, and persuaded a local radio DJ to play “The Look,” which became the first of four No 1 hits in 1989.
Among their other hits were “Listen to Your Heart,” “Joyride” and the 1987 power ballad “It Must Have Been Love, which was included on the soundtrack to the 1990 romantic comedy “Pretty Woman.”
“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,” Gessle said through the management company.
“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 colors.”
In her final single, 2018’s “Sing Me A Song,” Fredriksson appeared to address her mortality, singing: “The love I had and gave / Makes it hard to say goodbye” over a mournful jazz backing.
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