As It Happens

How a Minnesota man brought Roxette to the U.S. with a single CD

Dean Cushman explains how he helped Roxette break into America in the late '80s. He heard their music when he was a U.S. foreign exchange student in Sweden, brought their CD home and pestered the local radio station until they played it.

Dean Cushman remembers Roxette singer Marie Fredriksson — whose voice he helped introduce to U.S. listeners

Dean Cushman, centre, with Per Gessle, right, and the late Marie Fredriksson, left, of the Swedish pop rock duo, Roxette. (Submitted by Dean Cushman)

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Dean Cushman remembers the first time he heard the song The Look by Roxette.

It was 1988 and Cushman was studying in Sweden. The pop duo hadn't managed to break into the U.S. market. But The Look was playing everywhere in their home country. Cushman liked the tune so much, he brought a CD home with him to Minnesota.

He soon went from playing the band's music to promoting them.

"I loved the song ... So did all my friends in Sweden. It was the popular song and it's a catchy tune," Cushman told As It Happens host Carol Off.

"I decided that if I liked it, maybe some of my friends would like it, maybe some of the Minnesotans would like it."

After Cushman helped Roxette break into the U.S. market he says he got to go to parties with the band and join them back stage at concerts. (Submitted by Dean Cushman)

He took the CD down to the local radio station and urged them to take a listen. Someone there did, and put in on the air. In no time, it was playing all over the U.S. and, eventually, it became a number one hit.

On Monday, Roxette's vocalist, Marie Fredriksson, died of complications from treatment for a brain tumour. She was 61. 

"I'm so glad that she has the legacy of her music to live on because she's such a great artist," Cushman said. "That's my memory. What a great artist and great person she was."

In the many tributes circling online for Fredriksson, not many mention Cushman's name. 

I feel kind of like the cashier that sold Roxette the winning lottery ticket.- Dean Cushman

Looking back on that time 31 years ago, Cushman remembers it took some pushing for his local station, KDWB, to pay attention to the Roxette CD he brought them.

After sorting out all the legal paper work with Roxette's label, the band went to number one on the American Billboard charts, as well as 14 other countries. 

"Isn't that crazy?" he said.

Cushman said the quality of Roxette's music is so good that it could have taken off without his help. Still, he said it was a thrill to have played a part in their success.

"I feel kind of like the cashier that sold Roxette the winning lottery ticket. I didn't have anything to do with their music, or their artistry, but in some small way I could help them and let everyone else enjoy their music," Cushman said. 

Cushman says he feels like the cashier who sold Roxette the lucky lottery ticket but acknowledges what a thrill it is to have played "a small part" in their success. (Submitted by Dean Cushman)

Eventually, Fredriksson and her bandmate Per Gessle came to Minnesota and met with Cushman. 

"I went with them at a store or two for a promotional tour, a record store, and then had a nice party up in a hotel," he recalled. "They thanked me." 

After that, the record label gave Cushman all the discs he wanted, including a gold record of The Look

He also went out for dinner with the band, hung out backstage, and travelled to Sweden to see them perform.

Singer Marie Fredriksson, right, and Per Gessle, left, of Swedish pop music duo Roxette. Fredriksson died on Monday. She was 61. (Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Through all those experiences, Cushman says he was struck by Fredriksson's kindness and generosity.

"I was reviewing some pictures with my wife that we had taken on this initial promotional tour that they had done. ... It reminded me how nice she was — what a great person she is." 

As luck should have it, Cushman also met his wife at a Roxette concert in Sweden.

"We hit it off and then she came back to the U.S. and visited me and we were married shortly after," Cushman said.

"So, if I wouldn't have had this go on with Roxette, I may not have gone back to Sweden to see them in concert. I maybe [would've] never met my wife."

Written by Kate Swoger and John McGill. Produced by Kate Swoger.


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