Tag Archives: Per Gessle

Did you know Marie?

Marie Fredriksson on Instagram

A week ago as the first news about Marie Fredriksson having died filtered through my social media, I turned to the Resident IT Consultant and said ‘If I say Marie Fredriksson has died, would you know who I meant?’

Not surprisingly the answer was ‘no.’ Then I suppose it was my fault, for trying to explain that she had – for a time – lived in the house that Mother-of-witch really wanted to live in, that she was one half of Roxette, singing with Per Gessle from Gyllene Tider. None of this hinted at greatness.

Marie Fredriksson in the Guardian

Later the same day he said with surprise that she’d been mentioned on the radio (=Radio 4). And the next day her photo was on the front page of the Guardian, with another inside and a half page article.

Marie Fredriksson in the Guardian

By the weekend the Guardian also published an obituary, quoting among the people who would miss Marie, the King (of Sweden; not Elvis).

Marie Fredriksson in the Guardian

I reckon the Resident IT Consultant was a little bemused. And I realised I should have said that Marie was one half of Roxette, second in fame and success only to ABBA. (He’s heard of them.)

The thing is, to me – who didn’t follow popular music in the 1980s or 1990s – she was the ‘local’ singer who’d done really well. Where she came from came first, not so much where she went to. And as I mentioned over on Bookwitch, I was in Sweden when her illness had just been diagnosed 17 years ago, reading the sensationalist headlines in the tabloid press. And what upset me was the thought of her small children. Because the mothers at the local playgroup considered her nice and friendly; someone who always said hello, and was not stuck-up like many other people nearby.

It was nice knowing your music, Marie, even if I came to it late. And I’m relieved your children had time to grow a little older, even if longer still would have been preferable.

I was trying to have my hair cut, when

the fans phoned. I’ve never forgotten the constant ringing of the bloody phone, but assumed it was ‘normal,’ somehow. And here I discover in this morning’s television interview with Gyllene Tider’s Per Gessle and Micke Andersson, that it’s not been commonly known… According to Micke his mother was furious. No, more like annoyed, I’d guess. Siv’s too nice to do furious. She had to hire someone just to answer the phone, because it seems the fans didn’t want to book themselves in for haircuts.

Sorry about the interview, by the way. It’s in Swedish. But you can still enjoy it. Per looks a little wrinkly, but Micke has his parents’ good looks. (I know, because he posted a photo of them on facebook last week, and they haven’t aged at all.)

I was too cool back then to have much interest in Gyllene Tider. And it’s weird to think they are now breaking up for the last time (?) and will set out on their 40th anniversary tour this summer. I suspect I will miss it, just as I have all the others. I don’t do crowds well, nor standing for hours.

I – almost – share their accent, and I believe them when they say that they were always a ‘good’ band. It’s what happens when you have cows outside your house.

Gyllene Tider

We met by Picasso

It felt like something straight out of a Gyllene Tider song. I did wait by Picasso, and we were indeed in the same small town Per Gessle sings about in Småstad. That’s because singer Lena Andersson and I grew up in the same small town as Per, and my suggestion that Lena and I should meet by Picasso was more a matter of practicality, than me being clever. It’s a big statue, there are seats to sit on (I am old) and it’s across the street from the church café that I felt might be a good place for some ‘fika.’

And had it not been for my plumber who phoned me on my mobile to ask where to send his invoice, then the local radio station would have lost its star turn for the day. Lena is back in Sweden this summer to stage a come-back, and she has been interviewed by everyone, everywere. During two months she will have covered great parts of the country and she will have sung in lots of places and been interviewed in many more.

So while I was spelling my address out to the plumber, Lena got her phone out and looked at text messages – as you do – and discovered that she needed to get her skates on to get to an almost forgotten about live radio interview on time. In fact, she couldn’t make it to the original venue (her parents’ balcony), so quickly switched to a nearby park, as she’d cycled into town.

Luckily we had drunk our tea and coffee, and eaten.., well, never mind what we’d eaten, and chatted about being foreigners where we live and about coming ‘home’ and whether our husbands are tidy men when left on their own. (No comment.)

I had forgotten to ask Lena if she could bring a copy of her new CD Open Your Heart when we met, but luckily she did anyway, and I’m listening to it as I write this. (I’ll tell you more about that later.) Her voice hasn’t changed much from the days of gospel singing over the skipping rope in the late 1960s. Neither has she, which is nice.

Halmstad Library, Lena Andersson on the radio

Roxette in Manchester


My, but we’re good at singing in Manchester! And by ‘we’ I don’t include myself, since I neither do voice or lyrics with any great success. But the rest of the thousands of people at the MEN last night knew their Roxette. I was both surprised and not surprised to hear this was Per Gessle’s and Marie Fredriksson’s first Manchester concert. Normally people don’t know who you mean if you mention Roxette, and they are probably less well known in the UK. But the crowd at the MEN knew the lyrics and – as I said – they sang well. Better than most audience participation I’ve come across.


They got us in a good mood starting with Dressed For Success, Sleeping In My Car and The Big L, and let’s face it; we had already been hanging around for an hour and a half by then. Mim Grey who had the thankless task of warming us up, was perfectly adequate, but it wasn’t her we’d come to hear. Her songs were fine and she’s got a good voice, as well as the courage to chat to thousands who have little interest in the first act.


Never having heard either Per or Marie speak English before, I was impressed. They sound good, and the Swedish-ism at the end might even have been intentional. ‘Our’ singing was encouraged by them, whether or not we knew the lyrics. But when they fell silent, the audience continued without faltering, and for some length of time. Well done, ‘us’!


Grateful I wasn’t down on the floor, as they all stood up from the word go, and it would have involved nearly two hours of non-stop standing, and possibly dancing. Some people came to the empty bit of floor at the back and did their own dance routines by themselves.


They promised us some new or recent material, but for the most part we got all the old songs. And to be honest; that’s what many of us came for. For a venue that doesn’t allow cameras there can’t have been more than a few hundred in constant use, looking like a friendly flotilla of little boats in the dark sea of the MEN.


The stage lighting was very well done, with attractive colours and not too much strobing at the audience. Per and one or two of the others did a lot of jumping up and down, but that could have been boyish exuberance at work. I wondered if we too had to stand up when they burst into a rocky God Save the Queen. Had this been the good old days we’d not only have had to stand, but that would have been the – premature – end.

Marie Fredriksson

They ‘finished’ with Joyride, but the lack of houselights suggested we’d get more, and there were two more, before I suspected they’d done a ‘Roger Whittaker’ and bunked off for their hotel. But no, they had not. They were back for a final Church Of Your Heart, and they took their time over it. Good to see Marie and Per courteously leaving last, and not running either, but stopping on the way out to bow from the corner.


Good stuff, from a neighbourhood close to my old one.


Being Per Gessle

That’s Att Vara Per Gessle. I looked to see if the book by Sven Lindström has been translated, but it seems not, which is a shame. On the other hand, maybe too few people around the world would want to read such a tome. To be honest, I don’t think I would have, had it not been for the shared connection of Halmstad as home town.

Halmstad isn’t all we share. Looking at the class photo from 1968 I felt it could have been mine, and whereas I didn’t wear glasses back then, Per could have been me. We lived near each other, but there is two and a half years between us. Like me, Per seems to have started school a year early. His handwritten list of LPs could almost have been mine.

But that’s where the similarities stop. Reading Att Vara Per Gessle is hard at the best of times, simply due to its sheer size. Beautifully designed, every page looks like the cover of an LP. The paper is thick and heavy, and the almost 300 pages take time to work your way through. Personally I’d have found it easier without the design, but there is no getting round the fact that it looks good.

So, I’ve been at it a few years now, reading in fits and bursts when I felt up to balancing the book. It’s so full of facts, that you occasionally need to distance yourself from too many numbers. Per is a fanatic who keeps track of everything, and the book is much the same, complete with a CD.

I have enjoyed it enormously. It’s both interesting to see all that goes on behind the scenes of success, as well as a ridiculous feeling of pride that a local boy made quite so good.

The book has everything, from Per’s early years at home in Halmstad to his current – rather fancier – home in Halmstad. See, he went far, but he didn’t go too far in the geographical sense. That’s nice. You can be a small town boy and an international star.

I knew Gyllene Tider as an even more local boy band, from Harplinge. That’s when I paid any attention to them at all. The fans phoned the hairdresser’s where I was having my hair cut, asking if the hairdresser’s son (drummer) was at home. Annoying, I thought.

After that I was half aware of Roxette, Per’s group with Marie Fredriksson. And by the time he started on his solo career, Offspring were interested in him and his music, so I was almost not behind at all.

Suffice it to say that I had no inkling that there was so much work behind something ‘simple’ like a new album, or a tour. To this non-musical music listener the background information has been a real eye-opener. Also realised I’ve only listened to a fraction of Per’s music, so might have to look into some more now that I know where it’s come from.

This might be a ‘warts and all’ book. I don’t know. There are plenty of warts, but it may not be all the warts. It’s reassuring to see that not all was rosy, and it’s salutary to discover that things went wrong, too.

Per Gessle and Sven Lindström signing Att Vara Per Gessle

Fun and informative, and for someone from the same time and place it’s much more than the rise of a star. (Just wish my childhood memories of Per’s hotel could have been left in peace.)

And I have considerably fewer tracks on my iPod than Per has on his.


My timing is famously wrong.

I was never interested in Gyllene Tider, having left Sweden just as they started out. And they were too young for me.

Never really caught on with Roxette, either. The one thing I remember hails from the year I took Offspring to a Swedish play group for a few weeks. The other mothers had cause to gossip about rich foreigners with houses nearby, and people too grand to behave like normal people. ‘But at least Marie Fredriksson always says hello’, was the verdict. She lived near at the time, in the house Mother-of-witch desperately fancied living in. Perhaps if she’d been a rockstar?

Some years ago I had the opportunity to buy tickets for Offspring to see a Gyllene Tider concert in Halmstad, which surprisingly was on when we were there. I didn’t, and have received flak ever since.


This year I arrived to find that Halmstad is hosting a Roxette concert two days after my departure. See, it’s the timing again.

Then yesterday morning I read in the paper that Roxette were doing a dress rehearsal at a local nightclub for a select 600 audience that very evening. Tried, and failed, getting the Resident IT Consultant to pop along and queue for tickets for me.

So that’s another event I didn’t make it to. Gah!

Hallandsposten were there. And I noticed Roxette made the headlines for both the national evening tabloids.