As one half of the duo Roxette, Per Gessle became one of the most successful Swedish artists ever. Gessle not only has a gift for catchy hooks, but he has also worked diligently to succeed worldwide throughout his entire career. When the power pop band Gyllene Tider failed to do so -- but still became one of the best-selling bands in Sweden -- he disbanded the group and tried a solo career, until finally settling on the duo format in Roxette, together with Marie Fredriksson.
Gessle was born in the seaside town of Halmstad in southwestern Sweden. Inspired by the new wave movement, he had a brief run in the duo Grape Rock in the late '70s before forming Gyllene Tider in 1978. Within a few years, their extremely catchy hooks had Sweden entranced, and they created chaos on their summer tours, while their second album, Moderna Tider, sold close to half-a-million copies. In 1983, while most of the bandmembers were doing their military service, Gessle released his self-titled solo debut. In 1984, the band reunited and tried for the North American market, touring under the name Roxette (a different Roxette than the duo he later formed), but remained relatively unnoticed. Discouraged by the failure, Gessle released another solo album, Scener, while forming the final configuration of Roxette as a side project.
In 1986, Roxette's debut album, Pearls of Passion, was released. By 1988, the duo of Gessle and Marie Fredriksson had become one of Sweden's most popular, and in another year, they reached number one on the American charts for the first time with "The Look." During the entirety of the '90s, Roxette was tremendously successful on a global scale, selling tens of millions of records and reaching the top of the charts in nearly a dozen countries. They ultimately became one of Sweden’s biggest musical exports -- second only to ABBA -- by selling over 75-million records worldwide.
In 1996 -- coinciding with Frederiksson taking time off from Roxette to raise a family -- Gyllene Tider reunited for a summer tour, and released an EP with newly written songs. Their re-released compilation, Halmstads Pärlor, became the highest-selling record in Sweden during both 1995 and 1996. The following year, Gessle released his third solo album. The World According to Gessle was his first one in English, and the sessions saw him backed by members of Gyllene Tider and Brainpool. Gessle's next solo offering, 2003's Mazarin, went multi-platinum (five times) in Sweden. That success was followed up with a Roxette reunion album and a wildly popular reunion tour. The year 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. The live album Gessle Over Europe followed one year later. ~ Lars Lovén, J. Scott McClintock & James Wilkinson