Roxette is a pop music group from Halmstad, Sweden. The band consists of two people, Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson. As I'm writing this (October 2001), they have just launched a European tour to promote their latest album "Room Service". The band has had multiple #1 hits in the USA, but they just announced that due to difficulties in marketing in the States, they have decided to "cease all operations" there.
It all began in 1986...
The band was formed in 1986, when EMI Svenska's (the Swedish local branch of the multinational record company EMI) MD of that time, Rolf "Roffe" Nygren suggested that Per should ask Marie to sing a duet with him.
Per had written a song called "Svarta glas" ("Black glasses") and offered it to Swedish singer Pernilla Wahlgren. However, she had refused and Per was left alone with his catchy pop song. Roffe got a brilliant idea of Per and Marie to sing a duet with this song.
Marie's friends told her not agree, because Per was kind of a falling star in Sweden. His band Gyllene Tider ("Golden times") was a huge success in the early 80s, but after achieving "everything", the band had split up in 1985. Marie herself was ever so popular at that time and Marie's friends thought that singing with Per would drag her down too.
As you can guess, Marie did agree. Per had translated his song into English with the title "Neverending Love". That became Roxette's first single.
Gyllene Tider had also used the name "Roxette" (which was taken from a song by Dr. Feelgood), when they tried to break through abroad few years before. That attempt never worked out, but they did release a single ("Teaser Japanese") and an EP ("Heartland") with that name.
The first album
"Neverending Love" became a hit in Sweden. Soon Per and Marie decided that they'll make an entire album. The first album, "Pearls Of Passion" was released in the late 1986. The album was a success in Sweden, but not abroad. The album was, however, released in Canada. The Canadian releases are very rare.
In the summer of 1987, Roxette had their first tour together with singer Eva Dahlgren and a band called Ratata. Later same year, they also released the single "It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken-hearted)". The song didn't get much attention before 1990, when the title was shortened to "It Must Have Been Love" and the song was featured in the box office hit "Pretty Woman", starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.
First worldwide hit
In 1988, Roxette had a live performance in France. But nothing else really happened abroad. In the summer of 1988, Roxette travelled to London to record their second album. "Look Sharp!" was released in October. Expressen rated the album 3 out of 5, and the critic Måns Ivarsson wasn't really fascinated: "To consist of two such original persons as Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle, the album sounds unbeliavably conventional."
In February 1989, Per suddenly heard that a song from the album, "The Look" was being played on the radio in the USA. In a short while, 500 copies of the song was distributed to US radio stations.
For Roxette, these reports were a big surprise as the album wasn't even released in America. Soon they heard how the song had got its way to American radio stations; a 22-year-old exchange student, Dean Cushman, had recorded Roxette's material on cassette while he was studying computer science in Borås, Sweden and taken the tapes with him when he went back to Minneapolis. At home, he played the song to the staff at the radio station KDWB and people loved the song instantly.
Join the Joyride!
In the autumn of 1990, Roxette started working on a successor for "Look Sharp!". Their record company EMI invested almost 2 million dollars for promotion. This meant extra pressure for Per and Marie. But they didn't fail with the album "Joyride". In a month, "Joyride" sold over 2.2 million copies.
In September, Roxette started a Swedish tour. All 104,200 tickets were sold out in a week. Swedish tour soon became a world tour of one and half years. "We've become more of a phenomenon than a pop band," said Per at that time.
First dark clouds over Roxette
Their 1994 album, "Crash! Boom! Bang!" was a flop by Roxette standards. The album sold "only" 4 million copies and the singles didn't have as much chart success as their precursors. The USA, which earlier was their most important market, was suddenly a problem. The record company was from the very beginning unwilling to release the album. Per thinks the main reason was that the new chief of EMI USA preferred grunge over melodic pop from Europe.
Despite the record company problems, Roxette was able to sell 1 million copies in the McDonald's restaurants as part of a charity project. It didn't help much, though: the album never reached the American Top 200 chart.
In 1995, after their second world tour, the band decided to take a break. During that time, they did release a greatest hits album and a Spanish compilation of Roxette's ballads. The Spanish album "Baladas En Español", released in 1996, was a disappointment. However, they had other thing on their minds: Marie got her second child in 1997 and Per got his first child later same year.
Back to studio
After their break, the band returned to studio. The result, "Have A Nice Day" was released in 1999. The album sold only 2.2 million copies. Per thinks the album was a disappointment, also musically.
After their difficulties in the USA, "Have A Nice Day" was released on a small label called Edel America Records. The co-operation with Edel didn't work as expected and soon Per and Marie were without a US record company again. "We are a big record company band," has Per told.
Fans waited anxiously for a "Have A Nice Day Tour", but it never came. Instead, Per and Marie decided to start recording yet another studio album. "Room Service" was released in April 2001. The album was more "back to basics", with more traditional instruments than "Have A Nice Day". This time, they are also touring to promote the album. European Room Service Tour was launched in September 2001. Initially, the tour also had 3 concerts in South Africa, but due to WTC tragedy, these concerts were cancelled.
1986: Pearls Of Passion
1987: Dance Passion (remix album, released only on vinyl)
1988: Look Sharp!
1994: Crash! Boom! Bang!
1994: Favorites From Crash! Boom! Bang! (promotional album, sold only McDonald's restaurants in the US)
1995: Rarities (remixes and single b-sides, limited availability)
1995: Don't Bore Us - Get To The Chorus! Roxette's Greatest Hits
1996: Baladas En Español (best ballads sung in Spanish)
1997: Pearls Of Passion (re-release with bonus tracks)
1999: Have A Nice Day
2001: Room Service
1986: Neverending Love
1986: Goodbye To You
1987: Soul Deep
1987: I Call Your Name
1987: I Want You (together with Eva Dahlgren and Ratata)
1987: It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken-hearted)
1988: Dressed For Success (Swedish first release)
1988: Listen To Your Heart (Swedish first release)
1989: The Look
1989: Dressed For Success
1989: Listen To Your Heart
1990: It Must Have Been Love
1991: Fading Like A Flower (Every Time You Leave)
1991: Spending My Time
1991: The Big L
1992: Church Of Your Heart
1992: How Do You Do!
1992: Queen Of Rain
1993: Fingertips '93
1993: Almost Unreal
1994: Sleeping In My Car
1994: Crash! Boom! Bang!
1994: Run To You
1995: You Don't Understand Me
1995: The Look '95
1996: June Afternoon
1996: She Doesn't Live Here Anymore
1996: Un Día Sin Ti (Spanish version of "Spending My Time")
1997: No Se Si Es Amor (Spanish version of "It Must Have Been Love")
1999: Wish I Could Fly
2001: The Centre Of The Heart
2001: Real Sugar
2001: Milk And Toast And Honey
1989: Look Sharp Live!
1991: The Videos
1995: Don't Bore Us - Get To The Chorus! Roxette's Greatest Video Hits
1996: Crash! Boom! Live!