As one half of the duo Roxette
, Per Gessle
became one of the most successful Swedish artists ever, and probably the one earning the most money from his music. Gessle does have a certain gift for catchy hooks, but he also worked diligently to break worldwide through his entire career. When the teen idol band Gyllene Tider
failed to do so, only being one of the best-selling bands in Sweden, he disbanded the group and tried a solo career, until finally settling on the duo format together with Marie Fredriksson
. His music has always been on the lightweight side and never very inventive (the lyrics even less so), but Gessle has proven to be a very skilled songwriter.
Per Gessle was born in the seaside town of Halmstad in southwestern Sweden. Inspired by the new wave movement, he had a brief session in the duo Grape Rock in the late '70s, before forming Gyllene Tider. Within a few years, their nonsense lyrics and extremely catchy hooks had Sweden entranced, and they caused chaos on their summer tours. In 1983, while most of the band members were doing their military service, Gessle released his self-titled solo debut, but it didn't come close to the success of Gyllene Tider. In 1984, the band had reunited and tried for the North American market, touring under the name Roxette (a different Roxette than the duo Gessle later formed together with Marie Fredriksson), but passed relatively unnoticed. Discouraged by the failure, Gessle, who has always been more inventive commercially than artistically, disbanded the band and released another solo album, Scener
, while forming the actual Roxette as a side project.
The other part of Roxette, Marie Fredriksson had a more arty reputation than Gessle, and was initially advised not to spoil her solo career by singing lightweight pop music. The advice went unheard though, and in 1986 Roxette's debut album, Pearls of Passion, was released. In two years, they had become one of Sweden's most popular groups, and in another year they reached number one on the American charts for the first time. During the first half of the '90s, Roxette was tremendously successful worldwide, while getting little acceptance from the critics. In the late '90s, they lost much of their audience in Europe and North America, but kept up a solid following in Asia and South America.
In 1996, Gyllene Tider reunited for a summer tour, releasing an EP with newly written songs, as well as re-releasing a compilation. Both sold extremely well on the Swedish market. The next year, Gessle released his third solo album, which was the first one in English, this time backed by members of Gyllene Tider and Brainpool. The album, called The World According to Per Gessle
, didn't sell well even at home, but proved that Gessle hadn't got all caught up in formula at a time when Roxette had started to feel pretty outdated. The following two albums by the group -- Have a Nice Day
(1999) and Room Service (2001) -- did little to change that impression. Gessle's next solo offering, 2003's Mazarin
, was a different matter entirely -- going multi platinum (five times) in Sweden. That success was followed up with a Roxette reunion album and wildly popular reunion tour. 2005 saw another solo release, Son of a Plumber -- Gessle's second English language solo offering but the first one to go platinum on the day it was issued. The Swedish language follow-up, En Händig Man
was issued in 2007 (going triple platinum) and was followed in 2008 by a third English language solo album, Party Crasher. ~ Lars Lovén & J. Scott McClintock, Rovi