The Student From Borås Who Saved Roxette (2010)

Autumn 1988. Student Dean Cushman, 21 years old, leaves Minneapolis, USA and starts his travel to Sweden.

He will attend some courses for computers at Borås University. It’s just for half a year. But the events of this half a year are to write a new chapter in the music history, as well as to change the lives of two young pop artists.

Few months before the American student arrives to Sweden, Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson go into the studio in Halmstad to work for the third album signed Roxette.  
The duo have a common dream: to have an international success, but the interest from the world is not so huge now – in spite of the fact that they have sold a lot of albums in Sweden.

The new album, “Look Sharp”, seems to follow the same model. A great success at home with 350,000 sold albums during two months – but no success outside the country yet.

During the documentary “Hitlåtens historia” at the Swedish Television SVT, Per Gessle talks about his frustration:
– We thought that we had done a fantastic album. It had a huge success at home, but nothing happened outside the country. And I was not interested in Scandinavia.

Now it is the time when the American student from Borås comes into this story. When Dean Cushman moves to the host family in Sparre Street, the Swedish people are conquered by a national Roxette psychosis.

22 years later he talk to Borås Tidning:
– That time, “The Look” was very popular among students, so I went and bought the disk, says Cushman and he told us also that the shop was called something… "Ouliiins".

But he meant of course Åhléns. And the disk cost 119 crowns.
– At price reduction!

Dean laughs.
– The problem was that I didn’t have any CD-player with me in Borås, so I could listen to it at a friend’s house. It was a really good album. The catching refrain of “The Look” captured me directly. A really good pop song!

On Christmas it was time to return to Minneapolis. Dean had a lot of funny memories with him at home in the USA. And in his bag he had also his new Roxette album.
– I was really curious if people from home also like it. I didn’t know anything about radio “world”, but I thought that I could leave the album to my favourite radio station KDWB Minneapolis, so that they could play it there.

Said and done. Dean searched the program chief of KDWB of that time, Brian Philips.
– "Dean Cushman was a name that started to come again and again on the list of people who had been looking for me. In the end, I called him back”, says Brian Philips to SVT.
– Dean told me that he had found a good album in Sweden and wondered if we were interested to listen to it. "Nice of you", I answered. "We accept the disk".

Soon “Look Sharp” was on the desk of the program chief  – in the same corner full of dust, as the other disks he had to listen to as well.
The weeks went by and Dean did not hear his Roxette album on the radio. After a while he gets worried that he would never get his favourite disk back.
– I was afraid that they would throw it away, so I went again to the radio station and said that I wanted my disk back immediately.

When the program chief Brian Philips heard that a certain Dean Cushman was waiting at the entrance, he felt a bit guilty because he had promised him that he would listen to the Swedish disk.  

To get out of this situation, he starts to listen to the album. Meanwhile Cushman was waiting at the entrance.
“The Look” starts.
– The first thing that came into my mind was: "good intro". Then I was fascinated. It’s a great pop!

Philips plays the disk on the radio. Soon the phone starts to call; there were phone calls from all over the country. Brian copies the disk and sends it to other KDWB partner radio stations.
Miami, New York and Los Angeles.
After a few weeks “The Look” is a super hit.  

On the 30th of March 1989 the song is number one in the American Billboard charts. Soon after that this song is number one in other countries as well. And in just one week the song get a place in Top 10 in 19 countries at the same time. 
All this happened due to a young student who travelled from Borås and bought the disk from "Ouliiins".
– Dean has proceeded exactly as an experienced co-operator in the music industry. He has been stubborn. He has called many times. In the end he sat at the entrance and waited. "How is it with my disk?" Without this insistence it had been different for Roxette, says Brian Philips to SVT.

Dean had no idea about what was happening until the day when he could hear his disk on the radio.
– I was totally busy with school that time. But I remember that one day I was free from school and visited my parents. We had the radio on and suddenly they played “The Look”. I just screamed: "This is so wonderful! They are playing my disk!". Then you could hear the song everywhere, at every radio station. The success with “The Look” was just the beginning for Roxette. 

Or as Marie Fredriksson said in a SVT-documentary: "This is like Niagara Waterfall has started…"
“It Must Have Been Love”, “Listen to Your Heart” and “Joyride”. After the international success, Roxette continue with three more Number Ones in Billboard.
– Many groups have an unusual story regarding the way they have become successful. In our case it was "The Student Dean Cushman". He listens and gets very happy. It’s not enough with a good song and a good artist, says Per Gessle to SVT and continues:
– It’s a wonderful story!
Mass media had the same opinion.

The history behind Roxette’s spectacular way to success became popular for mass media at the end of the ‘80s.  
Dean Cushman, 22 years old, is invited to have lunch with Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson, and EMI record company offers him a gold record. From the radio station KDWB he gets a T-shirt and a letter where they thank to him.
– It was a wonderful time and I could experience a lot of things that no other student could do. But today I see it more like a funny story that I can tell to my friends when we have a party, says Dean Cushman smiling.

Has this event changed your life in a certain way?  
– Yes, in a way. One of the reasons for which I returned to Sweden after school was that I could see a Roxette concert and meet Per and Marie for the second time. And it was during this trip that I met my wife, Cecilia.
They met in Båstad. They fell in love.
Today they live in a house in Minneapolis together with their two daughters.
And yes, Dean has got his disk back.
With an autograph.

SOURCE: Borås Tidning