Marie Fredriksson, lead singer of the Swedish band Roxette, has died at the age 61. The news was confirmed Tuesday in a statement from the band’s manager, who shared that Fredriksson had passed after a “17-year-long battle with cancer.”
Perhaps best known in the U.S. for their Pretty Woman hit ballad, “Must Have Been Love” (which was ultimately certified gold in six countries, including the United States and platinum in Australia), pop group Roxette was formed in 1986 by Fredriksson and Per Gessle. Other hits by the band include 1989’s “The Look” (one of four singles to reach the top of the charts in the U.S), “Listen to Your Heart,” and “Joyride.”
The band got its big break in 1988 with their second album, Look Sharp!, which featured “Listen To Your Heart” and “The Look.” When an American exchange student visiting Sweden returned home with a copy of Roxette’s album and handed it over to a DJ at a Minneapolis top 40 station, where it went into rotation, the group landed their long-coveted American recording contract. The duo released eight more albums.
Roxette’s Twitter account also shared the sad news of Fredriksson’s death.
According to a statement released by the group’s manager, Fredriksson was diagnosed with a severe brain tumor in 2002, “receiving an aggressive treatment that took its toll but ultimately was successful.” That treatment reportedly left her nearly blind in one eye and with limited hearing, but Fredriksson still managed to return to the stage for a Roxette comeback tour in 2009 and the group three released three more albums (Charm School, Travelling, and Good Karma), ending with 2016’s Good Karma.
“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,” the statement from the group’s Dimberg Jernberg Management team read. “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 also paid tribute to his bandmate via a statement. “Time goes by so quickly,” it read. “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! 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. You were the most wonderful friend for over 40 years. I’m proud, honored and happy to have been able to share so much of your time, talent, warmth, generosity and sense of humor. All my love goes out to you and your family. Things will never be the same.”
The president of Warner Music Nordics, Jonas Siljemark, also chimed in with a tribute. “We’re deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Marie Fredriksson,” he wrote. “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.