was a Swedish pop/dance group active from 1972 until 1982. The
quartet was formed through the friendship of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus
and their respective girlfriends Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Fältskog, and
together they topped charts worldwide from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s. The
name "ABBA" is an acronym formed from the first letters of each group member's
remain a fixture of radio playlists and have sold more than 370 million records.
ABBA was also the first pop group from mainland Europe to enjoy consistent
success in the charts of the English-speaking world (mainly the United Kingdom,
the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand), and its
enormous popularity subsequently opened the doors for other Continental European
acts. The music of ABBA has been
re-arranged into a blockbuster musical Mamma Mia! that has toured
worldwide and is in production for a movie version to be released in 2008.
1969–1971: the formative years
Benny Andersson was, from the age of 18, a member of The Hep Stars, a popular
Swedish pop-rock group that mostly performed covers of international hits. Their
live shows were often accompanied by mob scenes. Andersson played keyboards and
eventually started writing original compositions for his band, many of which
became major hits including "No Response" (#3 in 1965), "Sunny Girl", "Wedding",
"Consolation" (all of which hit #1 in 1966), and "Speleman".
Björn Ulvaeus from the age of 18 fronted The Hootenanny Singers, a popular
Swedish folk-skiffle group. Ulvaeus started writing material for his band, and
also attempted a brief solo career alongside it.
His band and the Hep Stars sometimes crossed paths while touring, and on one
such occasion in June 1966 Ulvaeus and Andersson decided to write a song
together. This, their first attempt, was "Isn't It Easy to Say", later recorded
by The Hep Stars. Stig Anderson, manager of the Hep Stars and founder of the
Polar Music label, saw much potential in the collaboration, and encouraged them
to compose more.
Both also began occasionally playing with the other's band on stage and on
record, although it wasn't until 1969 that the pair wrote and produced some of
their first real hits together: "Ljuva Sextiotal" ('Merry Sixties'), recorded by
Brita Borg and The Hep Stars' 1969 hit "Speleman".
Andersson also had a fruitful song writing collaboration with Lasse Berghagen,
with whom he wrote and submitted the song "Hej, Clown" for the 1969
Melodifestivalen, the Swedish Eurovision Song Contest finals. The song tied for
first, but re-voting relegated Andersson's song to #2.
As their bands began to break up, Andersson and Ulvaeus teamed up and
eventually recorded their first album together in 1970, called Lycka
("Happiness" in Swedish), which comprised original compositions sung by the two
men. Ulvaeus still occasionally recorded and performed with the Hootenanny
Singers until the summer of 1974, alongside ABBA.
Agnetha Fältskog had a #1 record in Sweden when she was only 17 and was soon
noted by the critics and songwriters as a talented composer, most of her songs
being in the schlager style. Fältskog's main inspiration in her early
years was singers in the style of Connie Francis. Along with her own
compositions, she also recorded covers of foreign hits and performed them on
tours in Swedish folkparks. She even submitted a self-written song for
Melodifestivalen when only 17 ("Försonade"), which was rejected. Agnetha had
briefly met Anni-Frid Lyngstad for the first time during a TV show in early
1968, and Björn Ulvaeus at a concert venue a few months later. During filming of
a Swedish TV special in March 1969, she met Ulvaeus again, and they eventually
became a couple and married in 1971. In 1973, Fältskog starred as Mary Magdalene
in the original Swedish production of Jesus Christ Superstar and
attracted favourable reviews. Between 1967 and 1975, Fältskog released five
Anni-Frid "Frida" Lyngstad sang from the age of 13 with various dance bands
and worked mainly in a jazz-oriented cabaret style. She also formed her own band
named Anni-Frid Four. In the summer of 1967, she won a national talent
competition with the song "En Ledig Dag". (included in double EMI CD Frida
1967-1972). The first prize was to perform live on the most popular TV show in
Sweden. This show was broadcast on the same day Sweden went from driving on the
left side to the right, so it was a very special day and almost the whole
population saw Frida sing. This first and unique performance can be seen in "Frida
the DVD". Included in the prize was a recording contract with EMI. Lyngstad
released several singles on EMI and had many hits in the Swedish charts. When
Benny Andersson started to produce her recordings in 1971, she got her first
number 1 single. On that single, "Min Egen Stad" (My Own Town), all 4 ABBA
members are singing the backup vocals. Frida toured and performed regularly in
the folkpark circuit and made appearances on radio and TV. She had met Björn
Ulvaeus briefly in 1963 during a talent contest, and Agnetha Fältskog during a
TV show in early 1968. She finally linked up with her future colleagues in 1969.
On May 1, 1969, she participated in the Melodifestivalen, where she met
Andersson for the first time. A few weeks later they met again during a concert
tour in southern Sweden and they soon became a couple. Andersson also invited
Lyngstad to sing backup vocals with Fältskog on the Björn & Benny debut album,
Lycka (October 1970), and during this time he also started producing
Lyngstad's debut album, Frida, which was released in March 1971 and
praised by critics. Lyngstad also played in several revues and cabaret shows in
Stockholm between 1969 and 1973. After ABBA formed, she recorded another
successful album in 1975, Frida Ensam, which included the original
Swedish rendition of "Fernando", which became a huge hit in Scandinavia before
the English version was recorded.
First performance as foursome - and first 'group
An attempt at combining their talents started in April 1970 when the two
couples went on holiday together to the island of Cyprus. What started as
singing for fun on the beach ended up as an improvised live performance in front
of the United Nations soldiers stationed on the island -- the future ABBA stars'
first ever performance. Björn & Benny were at this time recording their first
album together, "Lycka" ('Happiness'), which was to be released in September
1970. Their girlfriends added backing vocals on several tracks, and the idea of
them all working together saw them launch their own stage act, Festfolk (meaning
in Swedish both 'Party People' and 'Engaged Couples') on November 1, 1970 in
Gothenburg. The cabaret show attracted good reviews. Among the odd numbers, the
foursome performed the B&B hit "Hej, Gamle Man" and solo numbers from respective
albums, but the foursome didn't feel like working together, and soon
concentrated on individual projects again.
1971–1973: From "Festfolk" to "Björn, Benny,
Agnetha & Anni-Frid" to "ABBA"
After the 1970 release of Andersson & Ulvaeus' album "Lycka", two more B&B
singles were released in Sweden: "Det Kan Ingen Doktor Hjälpa" and "Tänk Om
Jorden Vore Ung", with more prominent vocals by Anni-Frid and Agnetha, and
moderate chart success. Anni-Frid released her first studio album "Frida", and
performed on her own; Agnetha released her fourth album and married Björn July
6, 1971. Benny, Björn and Agnetha started performing together on a regular basis
Stig Anderson, owner of Polar, was determined to break into the mainstream
international market with music by Benny and Björn ("One day the pair of you
will write a song that becomes a worldwide hit", he predicted).
Stig encouraged Ulvaeus and Andersson to write a song for the Swedish
preliminary of the Eurovision Song Contest, Melodifestivalen, and after two
rejected entries in 1971 ("Det kan Ingen Doktor Hjälpa" and "Välkommen Till
Världen"), Andersson & Ulvaeus
submitted for the 1972 contest their new song "Säg Det Med En Sång" ("Say It
With A Song"), and they chose newcomer Lena Anderson to perform. The song came
third, convincing Stig he was on the right track. The song became a huge hit in
B&B Success in Japan
The first signs of foreign success came as a surprise, as the Björn & Benny
single "She's My Kind of Girl" was released by chance by Epic in Japan in March
1972, giving the duo a Top 10 hit. Two more B&B singles were released in Japan:
"Merry-Go-Round" and "Love Has Its Ways".
1972: "People Need Love": the first 'real' ABBA
Ulvaeus and Andersson persevered with their song writing and experimented
with new sounds and vocal arrangements. One of the songs they came up with was
"People Need Love", released in June 1972, featuring guest vocals by the women,
who were now given much greater prominence. Everyone involved felt enthusiastic
about the new sound and Stig Anderson released it as a single, credited to Björn
& Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid. The song reached #17 in the Swedish combined
single & album charts, enough to convince them they were on to something.
The single also became the first record to chart for the quartet in the United
States, where it peaked at #114 on the Cashbox singles chart and #117 on Record
World's singles chart. Billed as Björn & Benny (with Svenska Flicka), it was
released there on Playboy Records. However, according to Stig Anderson, "People
Need Love" could have been a much bigger American hit, but a small label like
Playboy Records did not have the distribution resources to meet the demand for
the single from retailers and radio programmers.
Anni-Frid and Agnetha's first take at ABBA
As 'People Need Love' did so well, the foursome decided to record their first
album together. Recording sessions began 26th September 1972, and by October, a
handful of tracks were in the can. A particular track gave the two women the
shared lead vocal: "Nina, Pretty Ballerina". The women's voices combined in
harmonies for the first time gave them an idea of the qualities of their
For 1973, the foursome and their 'manager' Stig Anderson decided to have
another try at the Melodifestivalen, this time with the song "Ring Ring." The
studio sessions were handled by Michael B. Tretow, who experimented with a "wall
of sound" production technique that became the wholly new ABBA sound. Anderson
arranged an English translation of the lyrics by Neil Sedaka and Phil Cody and
they thought this would be a sure-fire winner, but in the Melodifestivalen, on
10th February, 1973, it came third, and thus never reached the international
contest. Nevertheless the proto-group put out their first album, called Ring
Ring. The album did well and the "Ring Ring" single was a hit in many parts of
Europe, but Stig Anderson felt the true breakthrough could only come with a UK
or US hit.
The ABBA name: October 1973
In the spring of 1973, Stig Anderson, tired of unwieldy names, started to
refer to the group privately and publicly as ABBA. At first this was as a joke,
since Abba was also the name of a well-known fish-canning company in Sweden.
However, since the fish canners were more or less unknown outside Sweden,
Anderson came to believe the name would work in international markets. A
competition to find a suitable name for the group was held in a Gothenburg
newspaper. The group were impressed with the names Alibaba and Baba, but in the
end all the entries were ignored and it was announced in the summer that the
name "ABBA" was official. Later the group negotiated with the canners for the
right to the name. "ABBA" is an
acronym formed from the first letters of each group member's name: Agnetha,
Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid (Frida).
The first 'B' in the logo version of the name was reversed on the band's
promotional material from 1976 onwards and became the group's registered
trademark. The first time the name is found written on paper is on a recording
session sheet from the Metronome Studio in Stockholm, dated October 16, 1973. It
was first written as "Björn, Benny, Agnetha & Frida", but was subsequently
crossed out with "ABBA" written in large letters on top.
1974: "Waterloo" and Eurovision victory
Just as in 1972 and 1973, Ulvaeus, Andersson, and manager Stig Anderson
believed in the possibilities of 'using' the Melodifestivalen and Eurovision TV
contests as a way to make the music business aware of the band and Björn, Benny
and Stig as composers. In late 1973, the composers were invited by Swedish
television to contribute a song for the 1974 contest, and from a number of newly
written compositions, the foursome chose the upbeat "Waterloo"; the group was
now inspired by the growing glam rock scene in England. "Waterloo" was an
unashamedly glam-style pop track produced with Michael B. Tretow's wall-of-sound
ABBA won their national heats on Swedish TV on February 9, 1974, and with
this third attempt were far more experienced and better prepared for the
international contest. With an album's worth of material released when the show
was held at the Brighton Dome in England on April 6, 1974, the song won and
catapulted them into British consciousness for the first time—and to the top of
the charts all over Europe.
Winning the ESC gave ABBA the chance to tour Europe and perform on major TV
shows; thus the band saw the "Waterloo" single climb the charts in most
countries. "Waterloo" was ABBA's first UK #1 single. In the US, it reached #6 on
the Billboard Hot 100 chart, paving the way for their first album there (their
second album, Waterloo, but now billed as ABBA)—although it only
peaked at #145 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
ABBA's follow-up single, "Honey, Honey", reached #27 in the US, and was a Top
3 hit in Germany. However, in the UK, a cover version of the song by the act
Sweet Dreams made #10 on the chart. This was primarily because ABBA's British
record company, Epic, decided to re-release "Ring Ring" (albeit in a remixed
format) instead. It failed to reach the Top 30, increasing growing speculation
that the group were simply Eurovision one-hit wonders.
In November 1974, ABBA embarked on their first European tour, playing dates
in Denmark, West Germany, and Austria. It wasn't as successful as the band had
hoped, since most of the venues didn't sell out, and due to a lack of demand,
they were even forced to cancel a few shows, including a sole scheduled concert
in Switzerland. The second leg of the tour which took them through Scandinavia
in January 1975 was entirely different: they played to full houses and finally
got the reception they hoped for. For three weeks in the summer of 1975, ABBA
compensated for the Swedish tour they had tentatively scheduled for the previous
summer, but had to cancel after their Eurovision triumph. They played sixteen
open-air dates in Sweden and Finland, attracting huge crowds. Their Stockholm
show at the Gröna Lund amusement park was seen by an estimated audience of
1975: "SOS", "Mamma Mia" and the breakthrough in
The release of their third album, ABBA (known to fans as "The Limo Album"),
and their single "SOS" finally brought back their presence in the UK, where the
single hit #6 and the album reached #13. Huge success was further solidified
with "Mamma Mia" reaching the #1 spot in the UK at the end of January 1976.
In the US, "SOS" reached #10 on the Record World Top 100 singles chart and
#15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, picking up the BMI Award along the way as
one of the most played songs on American radio in 1975.
Yet the success of the group in the United States remained uneven. While they
managed to break into the US singles market where, by early 1976, they already
had four Top 30 singles, the album market proved to be tough to crack. The
eponymous ABBA album generated no fewer than three real American hits,
and yet it only peaked at #165 on the Cashbox album chart and #174 on the
Billboard 200 chart. Opinions were voiced, by Creem in particular, that in the
US ABBA had endured "a very sloppy promotional campaign".
In Australia, the airing of the videos for "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" and
"Mamma Mia" on nationwide TV in August 1975 started an immense interest for
ABBA, resulting in #1 positions on both the single and album charts for months.
ABBA-mania was born.
This phenomenon for ABBA is further strengthened by the fact that the 1976
compilation album 'The Best of ABBA' is still the biggest selling album ever in
Australia, selling 1.1 million copies and spending 16 weeks at #1.
On Saturday, March 20, 1976, at 6.30 pm, Australian TV's Channel 9 broadcast
"The Best of ABBA", filmed during the group's visit the week before. The
transmission had more than half of the population watching: 54% of viewers
according to contemporary reports (the previous record was held by the Moon
landing in 1969). The record is unbeaten to this day.
1976: Greatest Hits, "Fernando", Arrival,
"Knowing Me Knowing You", "Money Money Money" and "Dancing Queen"
In March 1976, the band released the compilation Greatest Hits,
despite having had only six Top 40 hits in the UK and the US. Nevertheless, it
became their first UK #1 album, and also took ABBA into the Top 50 on the US
album charts for the first time, eventually selling more than a million copies
there. Also included on Greatest Hits was a new single, "Fernando". This
song had first been written by Bjorn & Benny in Swedish for Frida's 1975 solo
album Frida ensam (Frida alone). After the huge success Frida
scored with the song in Scandinavia, the group decided to record an English
version. It was a wise step, with "Fernando" hitting #1 in twelve countries
worldwide, occupying the top position in Australia for 14 weeks, making it one
of the best-selling singles of all time in that country. Also in 1976, the group
received its first international prize, with "Fernando" being chosen as the
"Best Studio Recording of 1975". In the US, "Fernando" reached the Top 10 of the
Cashbox Top 100 singles chart and #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also topped
the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, ABBA's first American number one single
of any kind.
The group's next album, Arrival, represented a new level of
accomplishment in both song writing and studio work, prompting rave reviews from
more rock-orientated UK music weeklies such as Melody Maker and New Musical
Express, and mostly appreciative notices from American critics. In fact, hit
after hit flowed from Arrival: "Money, Money, Money", "Knowing Me,
Knowing You", and "Dancing Queen". In 1977, Arrival was nominated for the
inaugural BRIT Award in the category "Best International Album of the Year". By
this time ABBA were very popular in the UK, most of Western Europe and
Their popularity in the US would remain on a comparatively smaller scale, and
"Dancing Queen" became the only Billboard Hot 100 #1 single ABBA ever had there
(they did, however, get three more singles to the #1 position on other Billboard
charts, including Billboard Adult Contemporary and Hot Dance Club Play).
Nevertheless, Arrival finally became a true breakthrough release for ABBA
on the US album market where it peaked at #20 on the Billboard album chart and
reaching platinum there as well.
1977: Europe and Australian tour, The Movie
and The Album
In January 1977, ABBA hit the road. By this time, the group's status had
changed dramatically and they were clearly regarded as superstars. They opened
their much anticipated tour in Oslo, Norway, on 28 January, and mounted a
lavishly produced spectacle that included a few scenes from their self-penned
mini-operetta. The concert attracted immense media attention from across Europe
and Australia. They continued the tour through Western Europe visiting
Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Berlin, Cologne, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Essen, Hanover,
Hamburg and ended it with shows in the UK in Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and
two sold-out concerts at London's Royal Albert Hall. Tickets for these two shows
were available only by mail application and it was later revealed that the
box-office received 3.5 million requests for tickets, enough to fill the venue
some 580 times. There were, however, complaints about the group's performance
lacking "personality" and being "too polished" and "sterile".
One of the Royal Albert Hall concerts was filmed and recorded for the intention
of a television special.
After the European part of the tour, in March 1977, ABBA played eleven dates
in Australia before a total of 145,000 people. The opening concert in Sydney at
the Sydney Showgrounds on March 3 before over 20,000 was marred by torrential
rain and Frida slipped on the wet stage during the concert. However, nothing
could dampen the fans spirit and all four members would later recall this
concert to be the most memorable of their career. Upon their arrival in
Melbourne, a civic reception was held at the Town Hall and ABBA appeared on the
balcony to greet a hysterical crowd of 6,000 people. In Melbourne, ABBA played
three concerts at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl with 14,500 at each including the
Australian Prime Minister. At the first Melbourne concert, an additional 16,000
people gathered outside the fenced-off area to listen to the concert. In
Adelaide, the group performed one concert at West Lakes Football Stadium before
a record- breaking 21,000 people with another 10,000 listening outside. During
the first of five concerts in Perth, there was a bomb scare with everyone having
to evacuate the concert hall. The trip was accompanied by mass hysteria and
unprecedented media attention, and is vividly captured on film in ABBA: The
Movie, directed by Lasse Hallström.
The Australian tour and its subsequent ABBA: The Movie produced some
ABBA lore, as well. Agnetha Fältskog's blonde good looks had long made her the
band's 'pin-up girl', a role she disdained. During the Australian tour, she
performed in a skin-tight white jumpsuit, causing one Australian newspaper to
use the headline "Agnetha's bottom tops dull show". When asked about this at a
news conference, she replied: "Don't they have bottoms in Australia?"
In December 1977 (January 1978 in many territories), ABBA followed up
Arrival with the more musically and lyrically ambitious fifth album The
Album, which was released to coincide with ABBA: The Movie. Although
the album was less well-received by the critics in the UK, it did spawn more
worldwide hits: "The Name of the Game" and "Take a Chance on Me", both of which
topped the UK charts, and reached #12 and #3, respectively, on the Billboard Hot
100 chart in the US. (Although "Take a Chance on Me" did not top the American
charts, it has actually proved to be ABBA's biggest hit single in the United
States, selling more copies than "Dancing Queen").
The Album also included the ABBA signature tune, "Thank You for the
Music", released as a single in the UK in 1983, and had been the B-side of
"Eagle" in countries where the latter had been released.
1978: Polar Music Studio opens, US visit and
"Summer Night City"
By 1978, ABBA was a mega group. They converted a disused cinema into the
Polar Music Studio, a new state-of-the-art studio in Stockholm which was used by
several other bands (for example, Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door
and Genesis' Duke were recorded there).
During May, the group went to the US for a huge promotional campaign, being
guests on Olivia Newton-John's TV show among other things. However, a lot of
effort was put into the new recording studio in Stockholm. The recording
sessions for "Summer Night City" were an uphill struggle, but upon release the
song became another significant hit for the group. The track would also set the
stage for ABBA's foray into disco with their upcoming album.
1979: Agnetha and Björn's divorce, Voulez-Vous
and the US/Europe tour
On January 9, 1979, the group performed Chiquitita at the Music for UNICEF
Concert held at the United Nations General Assembly. ABBA donated the copyright
of this worldwide hit to the UNICEF; see Music for UNICEF Concert. The single
was released the following week, and reached #1 in ten countries.
In mid-January, Björn and Agnetha announced they were getting divorced. The
news caused a massive interest from the media, and led to discussion about
ABBA's future: were they going to split up? The foursome assured the press and
their fanbase they were continuing their work as a group, and that the divorce
would not affect them. Nonetheless, the media continued to confront them with
this in interviews.
The group's sixth album, Voulez-Vous, was released in April 1979, with two
background tracks recorded in the famous Criteria Studios in Miami, U.S. with
the assistance, among others, of the recording engineer Tom Dowd. The album
topped the charts across Europe and in Japan and Mexico, hit the Top 10 in
Canada and Australia and the Top 20 in the US. None of the singles from the
album reached #1 on the UK charts, but "Chiquitita", "Does Your Mother Know", "Angeleyes"
(Double A-side in UK for the single "Voulez-Vous") and "I Have a Dream" all
charted no lower than #4. In Canada, "I Have a Dream" became ABBA's second #1 on
the RPM Adult Contemporary chart (the first being "Fernando").
Later that year, the group released their second compilation album,
Greatest Hits Vol. 2, which featured a brand new track: "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!
(A Man After Midnight)", their best known disco hit in Europe. In Russia during
the late 1970s, they were paid in oil commodities because of an embargo on the
On September 13, 1979, ABBA began their first (and only) North American Tour
at the Northlands Coliseum, in Edmonton, Canada, with a full house of 14,000.
During the next four weeks, they played a total of seventeen sold-out dates,
thirteen in the U.S. and four in Canada.
The last scheduled ABBA concert on U.S. soil, in Washington, DC, was
cancelled due to Agnetha Fältskog's emotional distress suffered during the
flight from New York to Boston, when the private plane she was on was subjected
to extreme weather conditions (see Windsor Locks, Connecticut Tornado) and could
not land for a long time. The tour ended with a show in Toronto, Canada at Maple
Leaf Gardens before a capacity crowd of 18,000. The shows also generated the
same type of complaints that were expressed during the group's 1977 tour: many
fans regarded ABBA as more of a studio group than a live band.
On October 19, 1979, the tour resumed in Western Europe where the band played
23 sold-out gigs, including an unprecedented six sold-out nights at London's
1980: Japan tour and Super Trouper
In March 1980, ABBA travelled to Japan where upon their arrival at Narita
International Airport, they were besieged by thousands of fans. The group played
eleven concerts to full houses, including six shows at Tokyo's Budokan. This
tour was the last "on the road" adventure of their career.
The year 1980 saw the release of ABBA's seventh album Super Trouper,
which reflected a certain change in ABBA's style with more prominent use of
synthesisers and increasingly more personal lyrics. It set a record for the most
pre-orders ever received for a UK album after one million copies were ordered
before release. Anticipation for the album had been built up by "The Winner
Takes It All", the group's eighth UK chart topper (and their first since 1978).
In the US, the single reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became
ABBA's second Billboard Adult Contemporary #1. The song was allegedly written
about Ulvaeus and Fältskog's marital tribulations. The next single from the
album, "Super Trouper", also hit #1 in the UK, the group's ninth and final UK
chart-topper. Another track from Super Trouper, "Lay All Your Love on
Me", released in 1981 as a 12-inch single only in selected territories, managed
to top the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart and peaked at #7 on the UK
singles chart becoming at the time the highest ever charting 12-inch release in
UK chart history.
Also in 1980, ABBA recorded a compilation of Spanish-language versions of
their hits called Gracias Por La Música. It was released in Spanish-speaking
countries as well as Japan and Australia. The album became a major success, and
along with the Spanish version of "Chiquitita", this signaled the group's
breakthrough in Latin America.
1981: Anni-Frid and Benny's divorce, The
Visitors, "One Of Us" and "When All Is Said And Done"
In January 1981, Björn married Lena Källersjö, and manager Stig Anderson
celebrated his 50th birthday with a huge party. For this occasion, ABBA recorded
the track 'Hovas Vittne' as a tribute to him, and released it only on 200 red
vinyl copies, to be distributed to the guests attending the party. This single
has become a most sought-after collectible.
In mid-February, Benny and Anni-Frid announced they were filing for divorce;
later it surfaced their marriage had been an uphill struggle for years, and
Benny had already met another woman, Mona Nörklit, whom he married in November
the same year.
Björn & Benny had song writing sessions during the first months of 1981, and
recording sessions began in mid-March. At the end of April, the group recorded a
TV special with the US talk show host Dick Cavett. Recording sessions came to a
halt when the Polar Studio acquired a new digital tape recorder to replace an
existing analogue one. Further recordings continued for the forthcoming album
during the autumn, with the aim of a Christmas release.
The Visitors, ABBA's eighth and final studio album, showed a song
writing maturity and depth of feeling distinctly lacking from their earlier
recordings but still placing the band squarely in the pop genre, with catchy
tunes and harmonies. Although not revealed at the time of its release, the
album's title track, according to Ulvaeus, refers to the secret meetings held
against the approval of totalitarian governments in Soviet-dominated states,
while other tracks address topics like failed relationships, the threat of war,
ageing, loss of innocence, a parent watching a child grow up and so on. This
change of content was reflected in the relative commercial decline, mostly
evident in the UK, after the release of the #3 single "One of Us" in December
Although it topped the charts across most of Europe, entered the Top 20 in
France and Japan and the Top 30 in the US and Australia, The Visitors was
not as commercially successful as its predecessors.
A track from the The Visitors, "When All Is Said and Done", was
released as a single in North America, Australia and New Zealand, and became
ABBA's final Top 40 hit in the US, while reaching #4 on the RPM Adult
Contemporary chart in Canada. The song's lyrics (as with "The Winner Takes It
All" and "One of Us") dealt with the painful experience of splitting up from a
long-term partner, though it looked at it more optimistically. With the now
publicized story of Andersson and Lyngstad's divorce, speculation increased of
tension within the band. Also released in the US was the title track of The
Visitors, which hit the Top Ten on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.
1982: The last recording sessions, future plans
and breaking up
In the spring of 1982, song writing sessions had started and the group came
together for more recordings. Plans were not completely clear, but a new album
was discussed and the prospect of a small tour suggested. The recording sessions
in May and June were a struggle, and only three songs were eventually recorded:
You Owe Me One, "I Am The City" and Just Like That. Andersson and Ulvaeus were
not satisfied with the outcome, so the tapes were shelved and the group took a
break for the summer.
Back in the studio again in early August, the group had changed plans for the
rest of the year: they settled for a Christmas release of a double album
compilation of all their past single releases to be named The Singles: The
First Ten Years. New song writing and recording sessions took place,
and during October and November, they released the singles The Day Before You
Came/Cassandra and Under Attack/You Owe Me One, the A-sides of which were
included on the compilation album.
There was little interest in the singles in the UK, though both singles
became Top 5 hits in The Netherlands and Belgium. The album went to #1 in the UK
and Belgium, Top 5 in the Netherlands and West Germany and Top 20 in many other
The two other songs recorded during the summer, I Am the City and Just Like
That, were left unreleased on The Singles for possible inclusion on the next
projected studio album from ABBA, though this never came to fruition. I Am the
City was eventually released as a bonus track on the compilation album More
ABBA Gold in 1993, while Just Like That has been recycled in 'new' songs
with other artists produced by Björn and Benny (a reworked version of the verses
ended up in their musical 'Chess' 20 years later).
The chorus section of "Just Like That" was eventually released on a
retrospective box set in 1994. Despite numerous requests from fans, Ulvaeus and
Andersson are still refusing to release ABBA's version of "Just Like That" in
its entirety, even though the complete version surfaced on bootlegs.
The group travelled to London to promote The Singles: The First Ten Years in
the first week of November 1982, appearing on Saturday Superstore and
The Late, Late Breakfast Show, and also to Germany in the second week, to
perform on Show Express.
On November 19, 1982, ABBA appeared for the last time in Sweden on the TV
programme Nöjesmaskinen, and on December 11, 1982, they made their last
performance ever — transmitted to the UK on Noel Edmonds' The Late, Late
Breakfast Show, via a live link from a TV studio in Stockholm.
In interviews, ABBA talked about a future Massive Tour, performing in front
of famous sites like the pyramids etc,
but behind the scenes a growing disagreement with manager Stig Anderson led to
the four members selling their shares in the record company and leaving future
plans for ABBA on hold.
Although plans suggested future recording work as a foursome, they never
Andersson and Ulvaeus had meetings with Tim Rice in December 1981, and in
early 1983 started song writing sessions for their musical project Chess,
while Fältskog and Lyngstad both concentrated on international solo careers.
After ABBA/Last performances/Reunions
While Andersson & Ulvaeus were writing and producing the musical 'Chess'
together with Tim Rice, and Lyngstad & Fältskog were concentrating on their
respective solo careers, a further cooperation between three of them came with
the musical "Abbacadabra" being produced in France for television; a
children's musical utilizing 14 ABBA songs. Alain and Daniel Boublil (of Les
Miserables fame) had been in touch with Stig Anderson about this project, and
the tv musical was aired over Christmas 1983 on the British tv channel ITV.
Frida, who had recently moved to Paris, participated in the French version,
and recorded a single, "Belle" a duet with French singer Daniel Balavoine. The
song was a cover of ABBA's instrumental 1976 track "Arrival".
As the single "Belle" sold well in France, Cameron Mackintosh wanted to stage
an English language version of the show in London, with the French lyrics
translated by David Wood and Don Black; Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, got
involved in the project, and contributed with one new song, "The Seeker". "Abbacadabra"
premièred December 8th 1983 at The Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in London, to mixed
reviews and full houses for 8 weeks, closing on January 21st 1984. Among the
actors were Elaine Paige, Michael Praed, Finola Hughes, B A Robertson and Jenna
Elaine Paige recorded a single -a cover of ABBA's My Love My Life: "Like An
Image Passing By".
Frida was involved in this production as well, recording 'Belle' in English
as "Time"; a duet with actor and singer B.A. Robertson: the single sold well
-this time produced and recorded by Benny and Björn- (an interesting take on
their own 1976 track Arrival). The b-side was the above mentioned "The Seeker",
a song that was almost forgotten for 24 years, until Benny Andersson re-recorded
the song (with a new chorus) on his 2007 album BAO 3 as a Swedish language track
sung by Helen Sjöholm: "Upp Till Dig".
Björn, Benny and Frida met occasionally when out promoting their solo
projects across Europe, but it would take a couple of years before the foursome
All four members made their last public appearance — as four 'friends' more
than as ABBA — in January 1986, when they recorded a video of themselves
performing an acoustic version of "Tivedshambo", (the first song written by
their manager, Stig Anderson), for a Swedish TV show honouring Anderson on his
55th birthday. The four had not seen each other for more than two years.
That same year the foursome also performed privately at another friend's 40th
birthday: their old tour manager, Claes af Geijerstam. They sang a self-composed
song titled "Der Kleine Franz" (later to surface in Chess).
1986 also saw the release of their ABBA Live album, featuring
selections of live performances from the group's 1977 and 1979 tours.
Their last known appearance (filmed privately by Anders Glenmark) as a group,
was as guests in 1999 on the 50th birthday of Görel Hanser, long-time friend of
all four, and also former secretary of Stig Anderson. Görel still works for
Benny Andersson in his Mono Music offices, and handles matters concerning all
four former members. Honouring Görel, ABBA performed a Swedish birthday song
("Med En Enkel Tulipan") a cappella.
Nowadays Andersson and Ulvaeus are frequently at premières of the musical
Mamma Mia! or other galas, every now and then joined by Frida Lyngstad, as
at the show's fifth anniversary in London in April 2004. All four members
attended the première in Stockholm of the Swedish staging of the musical in
February 2005, but were not seen nor photographed together. January 2007 saw
Andersson, Fältskog and Ulvaeus attend the show's last performance.
Benny Andersson has on several occasions performed old ABBA songs. In June
1992 he and Björn Ulvaeus appeared with U2 at a Stockholm concert, singing the
chorus of "Dancing Queen", and a few years later during the final performance of
the B & B in Concert in Stockholm, Andersson joined the cast for an
encore at the piano. Andersson frequently adds an ABBA song to the playlist when
he performs with his BAO! band (recently during his October/November 2007
concerts). He also played the piano during new recordings of the ABBA songs
"Like an Angel Passing Through My Room" with opera singer Anne Sophie Von Otter,
and "When All Is Said And Done" with Swede Victoria Tolstoy. Benny and Björn
both did an a capella rendition of the first verse of "Fernando" as they
accepted their Ivor Novello award in London in 2002.
Frida Lyngstad performed and recorded an a cappella version of "Dancing
Queen" with the Swedish group The Real Group in 1993, and has also re-recorded
"I Have a Dream" with Swiss Dan Daniell in 2003.
Apart from this, none of the former members perform their old songs.
The four members have never officially announced the end of the group, but as
the years pass by the chances of ABBA working together again have become
increasingly slim, and the group is now considered dissolved.
Benny and Björn after ABBA
In October 1984, Ulvaeus and Andersson released the musical concept double
album Chess, created together with lyricist Tim Rice, and with vocals by
among others Elaine Paige, Murray Head, Barbara Dickson and swedes Tommy Körberg
and Björn Skifs. The singles "One Night in Bangkok" and "I Know Him So Well"
were both huge successes. In May 1986, the musical premièred in the West End of
London, and ran for almost three years. On Broadway it opened in April 1988, but
closed within two months due to very bad reviews. The musical has been staged
regularly on small scale to great success, and even the concert version is
popular. In Stockholm, the composers staged Chess På Svenska ('Chess in
Swedish') in 2003, with new material.
What is considered to be Andersson and Ulvaeus' masterpiece, however, is
Kristina från Duvemåla, a Swedish epic musical, which the composers
premièred in Malmö in southern Sweden in October 1995, directed for the stage by
Lars Rudolfsson and based on the The Emigrants tetralogy by Swedish
novelist Vilhelm Moberg. In Sweden, the tale of one family's migration from the
poor Småland of 1840 to the promised lands in Minnesota is considered a national
treasure. (The film version of 1971 was nominated for four Academy Awards.) The
musical ran for five years in Stockholm, and an English version has been in the
works for a long time, and it had been reported that the Broadway pre-production
is in its earliest stage.
Their next project was Mamma Mia!, a musical built around 24 of ABBA's
songs and produced by Ulvaeus. It is a worldwide box-office blockbuster with
versions in several languages currently being played in many countries,
including the UK (West End première in April 1999), USA (Broadway première in
2001) and Sweden (Swedish language première in 2005).
A film version of Mamma Mia! is scheduled to première on 18 July 2008.
Since 1983, besides Chess and Kristina Från Duvemåla, Benny
Andersson has continued writing songs with Björn Ulvaeus. The pair produced two
English language pop albums with Swedish duo Gemini in 1985 and 1987. The same
year, Andersson released his first solo album on his own label, a collection of
his own folk music material called Klinga Mina Klockor, and followed it
with November 1989. In the 1990s, Benny wrote music for the popular
Swedish cabaret quartet Ainbusk Singers, giving them two massive hits: "Lassie"
and "Älska Mig", and later produced Shapes—an English language album by
the group's Josefin Nilsson—with all-new material by him and Ulvaeus. Andersson
has regularly written music for films (most notably to Roy Andersson's Songs
from the Second Floor), and in 2001 put together his own band, BAO!, which
has released three successful albums in 2001, 2004 and October 2007. Benny
Andersson has the record of staying in the longest ever run in the Svensktoppen
charts in April 2007 (the song "Du Är Min Man", sung by Helen Sjöholm is still
there, in its 181st week as of December 23rd, 2007)
Andersson has recently released his 3rd album BAO 3 with new material with his
band BAO! and vocalists Helen Sjöholm and Tommy Körberg -as well as having
filled two of Sweden's largest concert venues in October and November 2007 with
an audience of altogether 14.000 - as well as putting the finishing touches to
producing the soundtrack to the Mamma Mia! film, using the musicians of
ABBA's backing band.
Björn Ulvaeus is heavily involved in the musical Mamma Mia! and its
current staging's worldwide. He has not appeared on stage performing music since
ABBA, but had a reunion with his co-members of The Hootenanny Singers on 16 July
2005 at a music festival in his hometown of Västervik.
Björn continues writing lyrics to Benny's new music, as well as writing new
Swedish lyrics to previous English language songs (or vice versa) that the two
have written earlier.
Frida and Agnetha after ABBA
Both female members of ABBA pursued solo careers on the international scene
following the break-up of the band.
In 1982, Frida felt it was time for a solo-album again. At that time she
wanted to distance herself from the "typical ABBA sound", which she thought had
got a bit stuck by then, after 10 years work with the group. She chose Genesis
drummer and singer Phil Collins to produce the album Something's Going On.
Recording began in ABBA's Polar Studios in Stockholm in February 1982. With new
songs, new musicians and a new producer, this team gave Frida a totally new
sound. In the autumn of 1982, Frida unveiled the results of these recording
sessions by releasing the single and video "I Know There's Something Going On".
An extensive promotion tour around Europe and America began. Audiences around
the world accepted the new sound and both the album and single soon started to
climb the charts. Later in 1982 the single became a #1 hit in France (spending
five weeks at the top), Belgium, Switzerland and Costa Rica. The track reached
#3 in Austria, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Poland, and was also a Top 10
hit in Germany, Italy, South Africa and Finland. In the United States the single
reached #13. In all, "I Know There's Something Going On" sold 3.5 million copies
worldwide and is the biggest selling single any of the four members have had
outside ABBA. Meanwhile, the album sold 1.5 million copies internationally.
Agnetha Fältskog followed in 1983 with the album Wrap Your Arms Around Me.
This included the hit single "The Heat Is On", which was a hit all over Europe
and Scandinavia that year. In the US, Fältskog scored a Billboard Top 30 hit
with "Can't Shake Loose". In Europe, the single "Wrap Your Arms Around Me" was
another successful hit, topping the charts in Belgium and Denmark, reaching the
Top 5 in Sweden and the Top 20 in Germany and France. Her album sold 1.2 million
Frida's second solo album after ABBA was the experimental Shine
(produced by Steve Lillywhite), released in 1984. The album proved a big success
in Sweden, reaching #6 there. It was also Frida's final studio album release for
Fältskog's second post-ABBA solo album was Eyes of a Woman, released
in March 1985. It reached #2 in Sweden and performed reasonably well in Europe.
The first single from the album was "I Won't Let You Go".
In November 1987, Faltskog released her third post-ABBA solo album, the Peter
Cetera-produced I Stand Alone, (which also included the Billboard hit "I
Wasn't The One"). The album sold phenomenally well in Sweden, where it spent
eight weeks at #1 and thus became the biggest-selling album of 1988. Later that
year, however, Fältskog withdrew from public life and halted her music career.
In 1996, she released her autobiography, As I Am, and a compilation album
featuring her solo hits alongside some ABBA classics. In 2004, she made a
successful comeback, releasing the critically acclaimed album My Colouring
Book, which debuted at #1 in Sweden (achieving triple-platinum status), #6
in Germany, and #12 in the UK (winning a silver award). The album also achieved
gold status in Finland. The single "If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind"
became Fältskog's biggest solo hit in the UK, reaching #9 in the midweek sales,
but finally settling for the #11 position. The single reached #2 in Sweden and
was a hit all over Scandinavia and Europe. Lately, Fältskog's public appearances
have been more frequent. In January 2007, she sang a live duet on stage with
Swedish singer Tommy Körberg (of Chess fame) at the after party for the
final showing of the ABBA musical, Mamma Mia!, in Stockholm, at which
Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus were also present. It is rumoured that Agnetha
Fältskog is currently planning a new solo album to be released in 2008.
In 1992, Frida was asked and chosen to be the chairperson for the
environmental organisation "Artister för miljön" (Artists for the Environment)
in Sweden. Frida accepted and became chairwoman for this organisation from 1992
to 1995. To mark her interests for the environment, she recorded the Julian
Lennon song Saltwater and performed it live in Stockholm. She
arranged and financed summer camps for poor children in Sweden, focussing on
environmental and ecological issues. Her environmental work for this
organisation led up to the decision to record again. When planning the record,
long discussions with the record company took place if the record should be in
English or, as Frida wanted, Swedish. Frida decided to record in her mother
tongue, Swedish, as she did not want the huge attention an English-spoken album
would lead to. Recording took place in Polar Studios, Stockholm, and the album
Djupa andetag (Deep Breaths) was released towards the end of 1996
and became a huge success in Sweden (where it reached #1) and Scandinavia. The
lyrics for the single from this album, "Även en blomma" (Even a Flower), deal
with environmental issues. In 2004, Lyngstad recorded a song called "The Sun
Will Shine Again", written especially for her and released with former Deep
Purple member Jon Lord: The couple made several TV performances with this song
in Germany, amongst others, "The Sunday Night Classics" and "The Golden Henne
Show". The following year, she released a career retrospective DVD, "Frida the
DVD and also a boxset, The "Frida Box Set". Nowadays, Lyngstad lives a
low-profile life but every now and then appears at a party or charity function.
On August 26, 1992, she married Prince Heinrch Ruzzo Reuss von Plauen (24 May
1950 – 29 October 1999), of the German Reuss family. Von Plauen died of lymphoma
at the age of 49. In addition to losing her husband, Lyngstad had also lost her
daughter in a car crash a year earlier.
Its been reported in November 2007, that Frida and Jon Lord are planning to
do some demo-recordings together. If the results of these recordings turn out
well, Frida will recorded a new album with Lord as producer.
Revival: "Abbacadabra" (1983) / 'ABBA Gold'(1992)
and 'Mamma Mia!' (1999)
The same year ABBA went separate ways, the French production of a 'tribute'
show; a children's TV musical named "Abbacadabra", using 14 of ABBA's songs,
spawned new interest in the groups music. The London staging of the musical had
stars like Elaine Paige, and Finola Hughes singing new lyrics to the old hits.
After receiving little attention during the late 1980s, ABBA experienced a major
resurgence in the new decade: starting with UK synth-pop duo Erasure's release
of an EP featuring cover versions of their songs, which topped the charts in the
spring of 1992. As U2 arrived in Stockholm for a concert in June of that year,
the band paid homage to ABBA by inviting Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson to
join them on stage for a rendition of "Dancing Queen", playing guitar and
keyboards. The September 1992 release of ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits, a new
compilation album, ended up selling massively worldwide and setting chart
longevity records. In the U.S., the album became the most popular ABBA release
ever there, selling more than six million copies to date.
The enormous interest in the Gold compilation saw the release of
More ABBA Gold: More ABBA Hits in 1993. This collection also contained the
bonus track "I Am the City", one of the unreleased songs from the 1982 recording
In 1994, two Australian movies caught the attention of the world's media,
both focussing on admiration for ABBA: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of
the Desert and Muriel's Wedding. The same year, Thank You for the
Music, a four-disc box set comprising all the group's hits and stand-out
album tracks, was released with the involvement of all four members. For this
release, several demo versions and odd tracks were discovered in the Polar
ABBA were soon recognised and embraced by other acts: Evan Dando of The
Lemonheads recorded what fans consider the best cover version of "Knowing Me,
Knowing You", Sinéad O'Connor and
Boyzone's Stephen Gately have recorded "Chiquitita", Tanita Tikaram, and
Blancmange paid tribute to "The Day Before You Came", Cliff Richard covered "Lay
All Your Love On Me", while Dionne Warwick recorded her version of "SOS". U.S.
alternative-rock musician Marshall Crenshaw has also been known to play a
version of "Knowing Me, Knowing You" in concert appearances. Swedish metal
guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen covered "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)"
with slightly altered lyrics".
Tribute albums were released both in Sweden and the UK, and tribute bands
such as Bjorn Again and Arrival found a market; the former had to put together
several incarnations of themselves to cover the huge demand.
In Sweden, the growing recognition of the legacy of Andersson and Ulvaeus
resulted in the 1998 B & B Concerts: a tribute concert (with Swedish
singers who had worked with the composers through the years) showcasing not only
their ABBA years, but even hits from the 1960s and after ABBA. The concert was a
huge success, released on CD, and later toured Scandinavia and even went to
Beijing in the People's Republic of China for two concerts. In 1999, Sweden saw
the birth of ABBA Teens, later re-named A*Teens, recording techno-pop versions
of ABBA songs to huge success worldwide: not only the English original versions,
but ABBA's Spanish versions also.
In April 1999, the Mamma Mia! musical opened in London, and soon
premièred in cities worldwide to huge success.
In 2000 ABBA were reported to have turned down an offer of approximately
US$1,000,000,000 (one billion US dollars) to do a reunion tour consisting of 100
With Mamma Mia!'s huge success worldwide, and the forthcoming film
starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, there is a huge interest in ABBA's
music. However, in a November 2004 interview with the German magazine Bunte,
Ulvaeus said a reunion would not satisfy ABBA's many fans, even though there are
legions of them around the world often clamouring for one.
- Although "Dancing Queen" gave ABBA their only #1 in the U.S. on 9 April
1977, "Take a Chance on Me" (which reached #3 in 1978) — measured in sales
and other statistics — actually remains the group's biggest American hit
- 12,000 tickets were available for ABBA's two 14 February concerts at the
Royal Albert Hall during their 1977 European tour. The Hall received 3.5
million ticket applications.
- On Saturday, 20 March 1976, at 6.30 pm, Australian TV's Channel 9
broadcast The Best of ABBA, filmed during the group's visit a week
before. The transmission had more than half of the population watching: 54%
according to contemporary reports.
(The previous record was held by the Moon landing in 1969.) The record is
unbeaten to this day.
- Björn Ulvaeus' father was born Gunnar Andersson, but decided to change
his surname to Ulvaeus.
- Anni-Frid Lyngstad briefly met Björn Ulvaeus at a talent contest in
September 1963; Ulvaeus performed with The Hootenanny Singers (at this stage
named The West Bay Singers; "West Bay" as in Swedish "Västervik", Björn's
- Agnetha Fältskog went to see The Hootenanny Singers perform when she was
only 15, and remembers: "All the girls were looking at Björn. My friends
said, 'Isn't he cute?' But I said Johan (Carlberg) was the cutest. I knew
that in reality I liked Björn the most — I just wanted to stand apart from
- Anni-Frid Lyngstad once happened to see The Hep Stars perform at a folk
park venue, and was shocked by their stage act. She did not find their music
interesting at all
- Björn Ulvaeus remembers seeing Agnetha Fältskog on TV in January 1968
(her television debut), and became immediately interested in the blonde
songwriter — so much that he cannot recall the brunette Anni-Frid Lyngstad,
who also performed on the show
- When Sweden hosted the 1975 Eurovision Song Contest, ABBA was not even
invited to be present
- During their recording years (eight albums), ABBA only recorded their
own written material apart from a short 4-minute medley of three songs
recorded in 1975 for a charity album: "Pick a Bale of Cotton"/"On Top of Old
Smokey"/"Midnight Special". These were American folk songs recorded by
artists as diverse as Leadbelly, Pete Seeger and Burl Ives. The medley also
appears on the CD re-release of ABBA's self-titled 1975 album.
- Alongside their own recording sessions, the four members of ABBA also
spent a considerable amount of time in the studio backing other artists: the
women's voices are prominent on records by Ted Gärdestad, Lill-Babs, Lena
Andersson and Finn Kalvik and several others. In 1975, their recording
engineer, Michael B. Tretow, supervised recording sessions for an album
named Let's Boogie, and all four members of ABBA joined in: backing
vocals were provided by Lyngstad and Fältskog, the latter also played the
piano, Ulvaeus guitar and Andersson keyboards. Fältskog also added vocals to
Ulf Lundells "Snön faller och vi med den", and Lyngstad did the same for
Adam Ant's "Strip".
- Agnetha Fältskog opted for a career in West Germany only months after
her breakthrough in 1968, and recorded some 16 songs in German. Fältskog was
engaged to German singer/songwriter Dieter Zimmermann for almost a year
before she met Björn Ulvaeus.
- The 1981 album The Visitors was the first music CD produced.
- The hit song "Bring Me Edelweiss" (1989) by Edelweiss features the tune
and some lyrics from "SOS". This caused some controversy between Ulvaeus and
Andersson, and manager Stig Anderson, who had granted approval to use the
song without consulting the others
- Kylie Minogue performed "Dancing Queen" at the closing ceremony of the
2000 Sydney Olympic Games, and also performed it in her live shows.
- The ABBA tribute band Björn Again became so successful that as of 2004
there were five casts of Björn Again performing in various parts of the
world. The original Björn Again had been touring for 15 years, longer than
the original group.
- Magnetic Fields frontman Stephin Merritt regularly lists ABBA as his
- North American pop group Scissor Sisters performed a live version of
Super Trouper on the famous German TV show Wetten Dass in 2006.
- Elvis Costello included three lines from "Dancing Queen" in the lyrics
of the title track of his 2002 album, When I Was Cruel.
- British singer, songwriter, drummer, producer and actor Phil Collins has
often shown his admiration by ABBA's musical genius.
- Some unpredictable ABBA fans include Sid Vicious and Glen Matlock from
British punk-rock pioneers The Sex Pistols, Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant, The
Who's Pete Townsend, former USA secretary of state Colin Powell, former
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana and Prince
Charles of Wales, punker Joey Ramone from The Ramones, American electronic
artist Moby, Sharleen Spiteri from Texas, film director Steven Spielberg and
Roy Wood, member and co-founder of the bands The Move, Electric Light
Orchestra and Wizzard.
- Cliff Richard plays a live version of Lay All Your Love On Me on his
2003 World Tour, released on VHS format.
- The Fugees sampled ABBA's "The Name of the Game" for their contribution
to the 1996 When We Were Kings soundtrack, Rumble in the Jungle.
It was the first time ABBA ever gave permission for one of their songs to be
- Madonna sampled the group's "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After
Midnight)" in her 2005 single "Hung Up". She subsequently honoured them
during the finale of her Confessions tour (2006) when she donned an
outfit based on Fältskog's and Lyngstad's costumes from ABBA's 1979 world
tour, and a sequined cape emblazoned with the legend "Dancing Queen". ABBA's
ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits album was sold alongside her own merchandise
during the tour. She admitted spending much of her time in the studio, when
recording sessions to Confessions On A Dance Floor began, listening to
ABBA's music constantly, alongside with producer Stuart Price.
- During the Zoo TV tour in 1992/93, U2 frequently played "Dancing Queen."
In the Swedish leg of the tour they were joined for the song by Benny and
Björn. Bono and The Edge went down on their knees shouting "We're not
worthy", in a reference to Wayne's World.
- British rocker Noel Gallagher, usually a fierce critic of music industry
colleagues, has hailed the quartet's songwriting genius. In an interview to
the Musical Hall of Fame TV show, broadcasted by Channel 4, he said "Their
songs are incredibly well recorded, produced, sung and written. From a
songwriting point of view they were up there with the best. Look at their
song SOS? if I could drop that into Oasis and get away with it I would. I
wish I wrote Waterloo and Super Trouper.”
- Tina Turner is quoted saying “ABBA were pop music in its purest form; my
favorite is Dancing Queen.”
- Philip Oakey, Nirvana's lead singer Kurt Cobain, REM's frontman Michael
Stipe, Holly Lindin of Ophir fame, and Spice Girls' Geri Halliwell have
cited ABBA as a musical influence.
- When questioned what group was most likely to succeed The Beatles'
popularity, John Lennon named ABBA.
Notable tribute albums
- In 1992, Erasure released an EP called ABBA-esque. It consisted
of four covers of ABBA songs: "SOS", "Lay All Your Love on Me," "Voulez-Vous,"
and "Take a Chance on Me".
- Techno and house remakes of many original ABBA hits were recorded in the
late 1990s by Abbacadabra, a group comprised of studio musicians and singers
and released through Almighty Records. Another group called Angeleyes
released a similar album entitled ABBAdance in 1999. In 2003, a group
called Euphorica released their own electronica/techno tribute album
entitled ABBA Dance.
- In the late 1990s, the teenage band A*Teens was formed. Their entire
first album was made up of ABBA covers, including "Mamma Mia", "Dancing
Queen", and "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)". Original singles
of the band include artwork that list them as the ABBA*Teens.
- Numerous ABBA tribute albums have been released by various solo artists
and groups over the years including one by British singer Hazell Dean,
Tribute To ABBA by U.S. indie singer Pamela McNeill, Thank You For
The Music by German eurodance group E-Rotic, Funky ABBA by
Swedish musician Nils Landgren, and I Let The Music Speak by Swedish
opera singer Anne Sofie Von Otter.
- Numerous ABBA tribute compilations with tracks by various artists have
been released over the years. Some of the more notable ones include ABBA:
A Tribute - The 25th Anniversary Celebration from 1999 which includes
artists such as Mike Love, Peter Cetera, Information Society, Evan Dando,
Bananarama, and Army Of Lovers; the 1999 album Abbamania which
featured British teen-oriented pop acts at the time including B*Witched, S
Club 7, Steps, and Westlife; the 2004 follow-up ABBAMania 2 which
featured various British TV stars like Will Mellor, James Gaddas, Tricia
Penrose, and Michelle Hardwick; the German ABBA Mania album (tie-in
to a TV special) which featured Belinda Carlisle, Samantha Fox, Right Said
Fred, and Doro Pesch; the dance-oriented Lay All Your Love On ABBA; an
electronica tribute entitled An Electronic Tribute To ABBA; and
ABBAlicious, a compilation performed by various American drag queens.
- There is a heavy metal tribute album to ABBA entitled ABBAMetal
(AKA A Metal Tribute to ABBA) featuring prominent Swedish metal bands
such Therion, Flowing Tears and Tad Morose.
Fashion and videos
ABBA were widely noted for the colourful and trend-setting costumes its
members wore. The videos that accompanied some of their biggest hits are often
cited as being among the earliest examples of the genre. Though the Beatles, the
Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Who, Bob Dylan and others had made several videos
to promote their songs, it still hadn't become the industry standard by the
early to mid-1970s.ABBA: The Movie) were directed by Lasse
Hallström who would later direct the films My Life as a Dog, The Cider
House Rules and Chocolat.
Most of ABBA's videos (and
ABBA made videos because their songs were hits in so many different countries
and personal appearances weren't always possible. This was also in an effort to
minimise travelling, particularly to countries that would have required
extremely long flights. Fältskog and Ulvaeus had two young children, and
Fältskog, who was also afraid of flying, was very reluctant to leave her
children for such a long time. ABBA's manager, Stig Anderson, realised the
potential of showing a simple video clip on television to publicise a single or
album, thereby allowing easier and quicker exposure than a concert tour. Some of
these videos became classics because of the 1970s era costumes and early video
effects, such as the grouping of the band members in different combinations of
pairs, overlapping one singer's profile with the other's full face, and the
contrasting of one member against another.
Nowadays, most of their videos can be seen on the DVDs ABBA Gold and
The Definitive Collection.
|Winner of the
Eurovision Song Contest
fab don't need nothing else. fiona. xxx