After I finished “Kärleken till livet” I didn’t know what to do with all my emotions. Surprisingly I haven’t cried much while reading, it was the opposite, I feel stronger now, just because Marie Fredriksson is. She is so strong that there is enough strength left for the rest of us who sometimes don’t know where to draw strength from. I had some tears in my eyes, yes, but not because of Marie or her illness, but always then when Micke talked or shared a story from the past. Tears, because a love story like this is almost unbelievable, to have found a partner like him is almost not possible. They obviously share a bond that many people wait for there whole life. It touched me deeply and it confirmed my belief that Mikael Bolyos is a very special guy.
However, I felt like I had to write down my own story, how did I experience all these years, what did it do to me, as a fan? This bothered me a bit, because Marie shares some stories or situations from the past that I saw from exactly the other site – as a beholder a fan without any information, just watching and thinking about what could be going on. Here it is.
When significant things happen in your life, you don’t forget the day. You don’t forget what you did when it happened, you don’t forget what it did to you in that very moment.
September 15th, 2002, is such a day. I remember that I was at work. It was a Sunday and I worked as a freelancer for a local newspaper back then. So, it was a normal thing to me to be working on a Sunday to get the Monday newspaper issue done. I couldn’t concentrate much. I remember that I thought about many many chats we had back then and couldn’t stop sharing our worries and sorry with each other. This Sunday was the first time I left the house for the whole day and had no chance to talk to someone.
We knew that at some point a press release would come, telling us about Marie’s shape and possibly a diagnosis.
All the days before we just hoped and prayed that it was nothing serious, that she just fell because she overdid it with running or something. We only had few information, we feared the worst, but we never dared to speak it out loud. So, many many hours were spent in chatrooms. All night long, during the morning and the day – we tried to help each other and this is what kept us going.
Then, on this particular Sunday, I was totally restless at work. All I could think of was going home as soon as possible and check the news again. It was as if I knew something was happening.
Then I decided that I couldn’t wait and it was early evening when I found the press release on The Daily Roxette. Brain tumour. Brain tumour. This was terrible. This was shocking. This could be deadly – I knew that from the beginning. I tried to keep myself calm at work and tried to think of the many different forms of cancer and tumours and just hoped that she didn’t have the worst of it. Oh, how little we knew and I in hindsight I must say: How good that was!
I remember one day when Per said in an interview that Marie had a 5% chance to survive – no, I really didn’t need this information, even then, when everything was over.
When I came home that Sunday the first thing I did was that I told my parents. They weren’t very shocked, they knew, of course, what this meant to me, but as far as I remember, all they said was: Well, at least she got enough money to get the best doctors. What a cold comfort!
I turned on the computer and immediately logged on to the German chat we had back then on Planet Roxette. I read the first messages I saw and was stunned – nobody wrote a word about Marie. How could that be? I remember that I asked about it and all they wrote was “Well, what is there to talk about? It is what it is.” Now I know that they were in denial. I reached that stadium later that month.
So, we chatted a bit about the latest Roxette single, the video and stuff, but I felt I was at the wrong place. I started to look for some other chat and found the English chat on the Worshipmarie fanpage Marie Davis had back then. That was the moment when I found a new group of people who thought about Marie as I did. Our amazing idol, a strong woman with such a haunting voice. A woman who had been a part of our lives for such a long time, always a source of strenght and power. If we didn’t know how to go on, we just looked at her and listened to her music. That’s how the fan thing really goes, at least in the beginning. You don’t choose your favourite artist. Your favourite artist chooses you. And then you’re trapped in this until the end.
We chatted a lot back then and tried to think of things that might show Marie that we were still here. Marie Davis started this huge thing, a prayer chain. I can’t believe that after all these years we got to know that Marie actually hung it up the wall and cherishes it still a lot. Who could have known that the support of her fans really meant so much to her? When you look at your idol you maybe hope that they recognise you, you pray they do and that they indeed get something back from all the money, time and effort you put in following. But when you get the proof – it’s a feeling that can’t be compared with anything else.
During the last world tours with Roxette something happened with me, though. I started to think different about this fan stuff. I almost always felt extremely embarrassed to meet Marie. Not because she didn’t mean anything anymore to me, but just because I realized that it’s simply not possible to meet on the same level, to speak as humans and not as star and fan. I didn’t want this anymore. Enjoy the show, be there, shout, scream and sing – yes. Meet here, take another photo and say some stupid words – no. This feeling actually grows stronger still. I can’t stop it. Yes, I would say, I do love this woman. In a strange way I can’t explain to people who don’t know what being a fan means. She means very much to me, she saved me, I look up to her and in a way I feel totally protective and supportive and defend every time I think it’s necessary.
And yes, there have been moments I couldn’t stop anymore. Every time people in the audience complained about her singing, her moves or her looks I turned around and told them about her story and that they please shut up if they don’t have anything nice to say about a woman who fought her way back to the stage.
However, times change and I think when I last met her in April 2014 before her last show on her solo tour, it was actually the last time I will have met her personally. It was a good meeting and I cherish it still.
That Sunday, back in 2002, an era ended. Not only for Marie (who of course got her diagnosis some days earlier), but for us, too. Only a month before we had a little fan meeting in Switzerland. Eleven bored fans met at a small house in Basel and did nothing but drink, sing Roxette songs and enjoy the firelight. We celebrated life, ourselves and our love for Roxette. In the evenings, when we started getting drunk, we talked about the upcoming Roxette single and everyone told about their expectations and the new tour with Night of The Proms. We weren’t too keen on going there. Night of the Proms didn’t have the best reputation back then among the younger people, because only has-beens attended this show and we were a bit afraid that doing this gala would be the end of Roxette. Oh, we didn’t know anything back then.
We tried to keep our good mood and when Marie made her first public appearance in January 2003 we thought that things might turn out good in the end. She looked thin, wore that gorgeous hat to hide her bald head and smiled. She looked fine to me. Now, after reading the book I know how hard it was for her to hide her true feelings. It was the day when Expressen published the information that the cancer had spread. We were so angry, there are no words for it, actually. Being a journalist myself I know that there is no reason to publish false information unless you either need to sell more or you want to discredit someone. We were as happy as we had been angry when the press release confirmed that the cancer had not spread.
We started our own little support. We rented a huge advertising wall in Düsseldorf and started to think of a message we wanted to send to Marie. It was clear that we wanted to send her the photo of it for her 45th birthday. I went and let print a huge photo of her, some other bought some colors to spray the wall. It was a day to remember. We parked our cars below the wall because we didn’t have a ladder and climbed onto the cars to spray on the wall. It didn’t work. When we were finished it looked like we had sprayed a death sentence. The red colour had run down and it looked like the devil himself had painted this picture. We weren’t too happy at first but then started to make jokes about it. We couldn’t do anything about t anyway and we knew that the reason behind all this was genuine and full of love and affection. I don’t remember if we sent it to Marie afterwards, I hope we didn’t. It looked like hell.
We tried to stop worrying, it worked for a while. When we travelled to Sweden to see Per Gessle’s Mazarin solo tour we didn’t really expect her there. A day after the Halmstad show we knew better. There was small photo of Marie waving in one of the big newspapers. I had to look twice. This was supposed to be Marie? Cortison, one of my friends said immediately. “She certainly has to take it because there’s a swelling in the brain.” We understood and we didn’t. We felt sorry, but we didn’t want that. We didn’t know what to do either. Sit and wait. Nothing else.
Every now and then Marie appeared in public, at some shows in Sweden, so we got a new photo from time to time. Now, after I read the book, I know – a photo says nothing. It did back then, and it helped to cope with it.
I remember that we had a private meeting of fans every month. Fans who became friends and still are. We celebrated our girls’ night, drank too much, watched old Roxette videos, talked, played “guess the snippet” with Roxette songs, worried about Marie, talked about the future and in the end had a good time. I remember one particular event that comes to mind when I think about special things that happened regarding Marie. One of the girls was a huge Per fan, she was only interested in him and his music, she didn’t even know Marie’s songs very well. One night, it was late 2004, she had too much alcohol and felt very bad. She didn’t talk anymore but lay down on a bed and waited for the hangover to stop. Suddenly she turned around and started crying. We were surprised to say the least, more shocked. We asked her what bothered her and all she said was: “You must promise me that she won’t die.” In hindsight I tend to think that she knew more about the fatality of the disease than we did to research. We promised her that everything would be fine and that Marie was still alive after two years of the diagnosis and that this was a good sign. She believed us and calmed down, but it was the moment we started to worry again.
I never lost hope to see Marie on stage with Per one day again. When Gyllene Tider had announced their tour in 2004 I was convinced that at some show Marie would just come on stage and sing a song with the guys. How little did we know about her condition. I can’t believe how optimistic I had been at the time. I bought tickets for every possible show Marie could attend. She never did. After the show in Göteborg there was a photo in the press – she was there, backstage, of course. And when I saw her face, I knew at least one reason why she didn’t decide to – her face was still swollen from all the cortisone.
The happier I was when her album “The Change” came out later that year. We knew she had been working on something and we were so excited to hear it. We also knew it would be much about the illness in there. During this time I connect my mother’s cancer with the release of the album. When my mom was in the hospital I listened especially to “Mother” a lot. It was my favourite song, because it touched me first.
When my mother was fine again, I started to deal with the rest of the album. I can’t even write about my experiences. The only thing I can say is that I can’t listen to it anymore. I never listen to any song of this album. It hurts so much that I just can’t. There it is in the shelf, in different versions, like a stone in the water, so heavy that I can’t carry it. So incredibly hard to acknowledge its existence. When I am in the mood to listen to Marie’s albums I never choose “The Change”, I never did and I never will again.
It was the time when I decided to start my own webpage about Marie: www.marie-fredriksson.com. I don’t have much time to take enough care of it, I still have it, but I just can’t keep uptodate. When Judith Seuma started Roxetteblog and asked me to join I decided to invest the little time I had there and on our German site www.planet-roxette.com. But I felt the need to honor Marie with her own site and I still do. When Marie’s husband, Mikael Bolyos, released his solo album in 2007, I expanded the page a bit and added him and his projects. I loved this album a lot, there are, though, songs on this album, I also can’t listen to. Especially one: “What am I supposed to do?” I don’t think I ever heard more personal songs than from Marie or Micke. It’s so touching that it gives me goosebumps and tears everytime I listen to it.
In 2005 I made my first real journey. We travelled to the Nordkapp. Three weeks of freedom, peace and being on the road. I enjoyed every minute of it. It was a year when nothing happened Roxette-wise. Per Gessle released his album “Son of a plumber”, yes, but it didn’t come with a tour or other money-eating activites. The money could be spent on this journey and so we did. It was a very good summer for us.
And then, in December 2005, the unbelievable thing happened. Marie had started drawing and was giving out a book with her drawings – and, as a bonus – would sign the book in Stockholm. It was either the next day or the day after that. We felt a bit left out, it seemed that they didn’t want international fans there, to keep the stress from her. I understand this now, but all we wanted was to support her and we felt like we weren’t wanted there. Is there any other reason why you don’t tell your fans about a signing session early enough for them to make bookings? We made our bookings, nothing could keep us from going there. Unfortunately, we stranded in a huge traffic jam on our way to the airport. We had planned to fly the day before the signing session and now it seemed we wouldn’t make it. I counted the kilometers and time left to Stockholm and said to my travelmate: “If we miss this flight, I turn this car around and we drive up there.” Yes, we were determined to finally see her again. We got the flight, we were there and we were so excited, in a good and a bad way. We said that she surely must be fit enough to sign, if she decided to do so, but we had no idea, who and how she was.
When we queued in NK Stockholm, where the session was held, a lot of people showed up also. Not too many, but Marie was busy the whole hour. She had come in with Marie Dimberg, her husband and both kids. One hour earlier they had announced Marie Fredriksson’s signing session in the department store itself and only minutes after it started, Åsa Gessle showed up at the back and waved. Micke recognized her and told Marie to look in that direction. Both waved and sent kisses, it was touching!
When it was our turn to go and get our book signed, we barely couldn’t move. Marie looked so good and healthy again, the only thing that hinted at a terrible disease was a scar at the back of her head. But she was glowing with joy and all the stones we had carried with us fell to the floor. I managed to keep myself together, but my friend started crying when she stood in front of her. She never does, so I was a bit surprised, but it clearly touched her deeply to see Marie again. Marie caressed her arm and said “it’s okay, we’re back again”.
To this day we wonder about the “we”. Maybe, Marie meant “Roxette”, but we weren’t there for Roxette, we were there for her only. And this is something they maybe never understood. Maybe I started out as Roxette fan, yes. But I am coming for Marie. And when I buy tickets for her solo tour, I am not a Roxette fan going to a Marie show. I am a Marie fan going to a Marie show. This is a significant difference! The same goes for Per fans. And yes, there are Roxette only fans out there, too, of course. I never was. I most often only ever come for Marie. This changed a bit during Per Gessle’s “Party Crasher Tour”, I enjoyed that tour big time and it might have been the moment I realized I could like Per, too. And now I do. Now, when he is out, doing his solo stuff, I am coming for him. Not as Roxette fan, but as someone who is interested in him and his work.
Marie’s signing session was a thrilling experience. We were so relieved afterwards that two of us couldn’t help but went straight to the skating rink in the middle of Stockholm, rented shoes and made their rounds across it.
In 2006 Marie’s next album came out, “Min bäste vän”. I was a bit sad that there was not even one song on it that she herself had written. Oh, what little did I know about her abilities to write, to talk, to read. Now, after reading “Kärleken till livet”, I feel ashamed for many things I thought back then. Still, I loved “Min bäste vän”, I loved the colorful color, the idea behind it, especially “Här kommer natten” and “Sommaräng”. Finally, it seemed, the sun could shine again. Marie was back. It felt like the worst was over. And – as we got to know a while later – it was! I listened to these songs a lot and I found already back then that her voice sounded much better than before her illness. I was so impressed by this album that I got myself a mail address containing “aftonfalken”.
Through the years it became clear to us that she wouldn’t be on stage very soon. It took a while but then we were fine with it. It was only me who hoped that she could make a guest appearance at Gessle’s second solo tour “En händig man”. I was always hoping. I bought tickets for Göteborg and Stockholm and in Stockholm, a funny thing happened.
I had brought along my very best childhood friend. It was her first time in Sweden, her first Gessle concert and her first (and last) time queueing the whole day. I was so convinced that Marie would show up that I did not accept anything else.
There I was, standing in the third row, waiting. My friend waited in the back with some other friend, enjoyed the show from there. After a third of the show I turned around and said to some other friend “what the hell am I doing here?”. This was a slap in the face for Per Gessle, sure, but things changed afterwards, as I already pointed out. I was close to leaving my spot, I couldn’t stand it anymore and to the day I think that this was his worst tour.
After the show I went and looked for my friend. She came to me and said: “You have to be strong now. Marie sat next to me in the mixing console the show. I had no chance to reach you. I have no roaming and his (some other friend) battery was down and then I tried to go and find you but I didn’t come through, it was too tight.” I was speechless and disappointed. My friend said: “I felt so wrong here. The whole time I thought that I am not meant to be here.” Before I could get angry about the whole dilemma I spotted flashlight next to the stage. We went there and got some glimpses of Marie, dressed in white, waving and smiling, writing a few autographs. It was worth it! It was worth this concert which I sadly didn’t enjoy a second.
In 2008 lots of things happened in my own life. I moved and I broke up with my girlfriend and lost a very good friend of mine. Gladly, it was possible to organize another trip: Stjärnklart.
It was so damn hard to get tickets. Maybe it would have been easier to ask the management directly, but I didn’t dare. The webpage clearly stated that only companies were wanted. We tried everything to get tickets and were lucky when we did. The seats were crappy, though. It was a cold winter night in Stockholm when we arrived at the venue. We weren’t even in when another fan came over and told us that we have a meet and greet with Marie before the show! Wow! We couldn’t believe it. And only minutes later she was there. It must have been the first time she had been that close to more than only a few fans since she fell ill. We were many. Too many people to keep everything in order in that small room. I am honest here – I don’t understand people who bring tons and tons and tons of stuff sign, when it’s so much better to just talk for ten seconds. And especially when they see that Marie struggles so damn hard to write. Why the hell do they give her even more to sign? I was a bit disappointed after the meeting, because all she did was signing. Almost only. It was also the night I got to know Micke. We talked shortly, I introduced myself and he seemed to know my name. I explained about my website and that I get questions and offers for Marie from time to time. He asked me if I had Facebook and I said “not yet”. You can imagine, the first thing I did when I came back – I got a Facebook account.
The rather hectic meet and greet didn’t do anything to ruin the show, though. I think I have experienced only one show that was more emotional for me. When Marie sang “Ännu doftar kärlek” the lights went out and we listened. It was so silent in the room, everyone was excited. When the lights went on again I turned and looked at my travelmates – everyone had tears in their eyes. It was mesmerizing. I died and went to heaven in that moment. Marie was certainly back and even more important: We could see that she wanted to be back. This was a very special, a magical night for us. One of my closest friend that I got to know through Roxette was with me that night and when it came to the Night of the Proms some months later she said: “I won’t be going. This night was so special that I am sure I can only be disappointed if I saw her again.” I knew what she meant, but I disagreed. I had only just begun and I didn’t want to stop.
Everything changed – again – with the Party Crasher tour in 2009. Personally, I think it was Per’s best tour. It was small, it was intimate, it rocked big time, it was pure fun. After the Cologne show a bird tweeted that we might want to come to the show in Amsterdam. Thank God I was a still at the university and could arrange this. I invited another friend who lived in Düsseldorf at the time to come with me and together we drove to Amsterdam. We knew Marie would be there. We didn’t know how, we didn’t know exactly what would happen, we didn’t care either.
When Marie came on stage all hell broke loose. I never never never heard people scream so loud. Voices were breaking, it felt like the walls were tumbling and the roof would lift. It felt like an eternity. There she was, back again. The screams turned into sobs. I have never seen more handkerchiefs at a concert either. This was a dream come true. More than that. We witnessed a miracle and we knew it. This is my number one concert experience. Nothing can top that. It was very touching and when someone in the back shouted “Thank God” it was like everyone silently agreed. Marie showed up several days later in Stockholm as well. It was loud, it was special, but it wasn’t Amsterdam. What a way to end this fabulous tour.
And who would have known that we would get even more. Night of the Proms. It was time to do what they would have done seven years before. Five songs each night, enough for Marie to get the stage feeling again. In the end I saw 16 shows in Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany. I hadn’t planned to go and see that many, but something that happened at the opening night in Antwerpen kept me coming back again and again.
We had rather bad seats the first night. We were far off and didn’t see much. Marie came on stage from the bottom wearing a glistering blue suit. When she was up to the top she had to walk a bit to reach her spot on stage. My first thought after all the short meetings I had had with her was: “Oh no, don’t let her walk by herself in the dark. How cruel is that?” And she struggled. She did it in the end, but she struggled.
Then “Wish I could fly” started and Marie repeated the first line three times. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. She stood there, tight to the toes, totally nervous, I could tell that, and repeated the first line three times. It was this very moment when I decided I would come back as often as possible to scream her forward, right to another victory. I felt bad for her. So much effort, so many fights and then this. Afterwards we heard that she had a bad cold and her voice was gone. We were convinced that it had to do with nervousness and “Kärleken till livet” proved us right. I came back the other day and the day after that. I even dropped some jobs down, but I didn’t care for the money anymore, this was my place to be. The second night was with a standing area in front of stage. There we were, standing right in front of her, finally. We shouted and screamed as much as we could, just to show our support. I ordered her flowers to the hotel with get well wishes on it and attended another show. It went on like this until the Proms were over, it was almost Christmas.
During the shows in December it started to get very cold. When we were i n Munich we were freezing like hell and very happy that most of the shows very seated. There was one with a standing area so we had to queue. Fortunately, nobody was crazy enough to come hours before the doors opened. It was -10°C there and we couldn’t stand to be outside longer than 20 minutes. It was really really cold. It stayed like this throughout the rest of the tour and the coldest day was when we headed to Cologne, only six days before Christmas: -18°C, damn cold for Germany. Again, we were lucky, we could sit, so we could come late to the venue and directly go in. For the show in Cologne I had also organized a meet & greet for German fans from Planet Roxette. In hindsight I must say that I brought far too many people. It was chaotic again and those organized meet & greets started to get to me. Per and Marie were always very nice and caring then, but they also were happy when it was over – at least that’s what I thought. The meeting in Cologne was nice, though, they took a lot of time to please everyone. At other times the meeting I had organized didn’t last longer than two minutes and that’s when I stopped asking for it. I remember that on our way to our seats before the show I ran into a girl and I knew that I know her. She turned around and then I saw it was a fan from the US I indeed knew. She had tried to come to Europe earlier to see some shows in Belgium and the Netherlands, but had problems with her visa. Now it seemed she came all by herself and unannounced as well. I told her about the meet & greet and she joined us spontaneously.
Regarding the weather we ran out of luck in Dortmund. The last show of the tour was held there, in the Westfalenhalle. -16°C, standing area, lining up. We did line up, it was so frecking fucking damn cold. We shivered, the wind was ice cold, I couldn’t even feel my fingers anymore – and I was a lucky one because I came to the queue very late. I promised myself to never queue again with a weather like this. It was unbearable. But it was the last show and we wanted a good spot, of course. It had snowed already during the night and it went on and on and on. It never stopped snowing and I was a bit worried about our long way home that night.
After the show we decided to go after the band, to say goodbye, to say thank you, to say that we enjoyed every second of this tour. What we didn’t know was that the band had their hotel in Düsseldorf, a one hour drive and with streets that hadn’t been cleared from all the snow it took us even longer. We were a bit late to the party when we arrived, but not too late at all. When we reached the others who were already waiting in the lobby it didn’t take much longer until Marie and Micke came down to grab some late dinner. We were eleven fans, no cameras, nothing to sign. All we wanted was to talk. And so we did. It was the most amazing and memorable meeting I ever had with Marie. Everybody was so relaxed and calm, we just stood there and talked to her. She thanked us for still being there and said that our support helped her so much. Her eyes glistened a bit and we were all deeply touched. We talked only some minutes but it made the whole tour, thousands of Euros invested were worth it. When they left we were speechless for a moment. We knew that we were part of a very special moment and nobody could take this from us anymore. I hold this meeting very dear to my heart. Finally, it was possible to meet her on the same level at least a bit, no nasty signings, no photo wishes. It was only us and this very moment.
I lived a dream during these two months. A dream had come true. There were times I didn’t think we would be able to see Marie on stage again. When she returned I knew that I wouldn’t care about money or time, I’d just go and see her. I already had missed her Äntligen solo tour due to several reasons and I knew I wouldn’t miss any more shows any longer. There simply were no reasons not to go. If anything it was Marie who showed us to live in and for the moment. And who would have known what else there was to come? A world tour, a solo tour, another world tour? This is a miracle, still.
After my last show in Vienna 2015 I decided to not wait for Marie backstage, at the hotel or at the airport anymore. It feels wrong, it looks like she really needs her privacy and most of all peace and quiet. I wish I could tell her all the things I want to say after I finished the book. That she has been my inspiration for 24 years already, that I don’t understand that she ever wondered that her fans are still there – yes, we are, we don’t go anywhere and we will still be there when we come to the venue in a wheelchair or with a cane, when we can’t jump anymore. We will always be there, because she has been with us all the time. This is nothing that you can easily abandon.
A woman we hardly know, a woman we love anyway – it’s a mystical thing that cannot be explained, at least I can’t explain it. In dark hours she is my strength and in the light hours she is just an idol to look up to.
I would want to tell her that she changed my life to the better in 2001. Even when I think now that the Room Service tour was their worst tour – talking about inspiration and fun on stage – the second Marie came out at my first show during this tour – my life got better and I finally knew what I had to do (kick a certain man out of my life). I would tell her that I understand everything she says.
That she is so happy she survived but on the other hand also struggles with her radiation damages. I would tell her that at least we don’t care about it, because this love was never about a leg, a foot, a hand or a damaged brain – it was always and will always be about a soul, a mind and a whole human being.