Björn is sitting alone in the almost empty and dark auditorium of the Saarland hall in Saarbrucken. Interested, he is following the rehearsals of Michael Schanze’s Show Express where ABBA was ‘Top of the Bill’ that same evening on the occasion of their tenth anniversary.
Agnetha spends her time before the rehearsals strolling through the town. In a jeans store, she buys a washed out pair of jeans and a warm blue sweater. She buys a red leather tie for her ex-husband Björn, which he thinks is “terribly sweet”.
Frida on the other hand likes to sleep late. She hates “running around the streets. At the most, I buy some things in London and Paris, in my favourite shops.” She doesn’t know how much money she spends on clothes every month. “Because sometimes I don’t buy anything for months, but then I buy a whole bunch again.” She is more economical when it comes to hairdresser expenses. “I always cut my hair myself.” For all purposes between the hall and the hotel – each of the four ABBAs has an own suite – two Mercedes 250 limousines – a cream-coloured one for the girls and a dark blue one for the boys – with chauffeur are at their disposal. At the stage entrance, both cars are surrounded by fans.
However, the Bravo photo session – taking place in a side room of the Saarland hall – two hours before their performance is kept top secret. Hours in advance, four people have been busy putting up four different backdrops, testing flash equipment and spotlights over and over again. The broadcasting company likes our improvised studio with the yellow New Wave background so much that they ask us if they are allowed to film an ABBA interview for the new Gottschalk programme Tommis Pop Show there. Approved (you’ve seen the result on your screen on November 27).
Björn, Benny, Frida and Agnetha arrive right on time. They strenghten themselves with coffee and hot sausages on paper plates from the canteen. The atmosphere is loose and casual, although Agnetha is still having a hangover from the platinum and gold awards ceremony the previous evening and photo sessions are not exactly Benny’s favourite activity.
It’s obvious that one of the first questions for the rolling television cameras concentrates immediately on the changed group atmosphere after the divorces and new marriages.
Benny says: “We are almost getting along better than before.” The others agree with him: “The private emotions have disappeared.”
That’s why it isn’t bothering anyone that Agnetha is accompanied by her blonde bodyguard that not only looks after her security professionally, and that Frida didn’t arrive from Sweden with the 16-seat ABBA private jet like the other three, but she glided in by airline, coming from a weekend with friends in Paris.
Ten years have passed for ABBA, 150 million records were sold, they hadn’t been in Germany for four years. A lot has changed since then – not only privately.
Benny: “We are working more individually now. Each one of us has the opportunity to pursue his or her own interests apart from ABBA. This gives us new energy for the group activities.” And that’s how it should be in the future.
Frida – encouraged by the success of “There’s Something Going On” – is planning a second solo album with Phil Collins.
In the beginning of next year, Agnetha wants to try her luck with a solo album too, under the direction of hit composer Mike Chapman. The master himself will submit a couple of songs. There are also conversations with Oliver Onions and Tomas Ledin.
Björn and Benny on the other hand want to try something completely different. They are going to write the music for a musical. The lyrics will be written by Jesus Christ Superstar lyricist Time Rice.
But all of this shouldn’t get in the way of the project ABBA. “As long as we are having enough energy for the group – despite all these solo plans – we will continue,” Benny and Björn explain.
You have to give them credit for one thing, everything is perfectly thought out by both ABBA girls. They have the answer to every question. They also know how to retort to the astonishment that they won’t fly back to Sweden with their private jet together after the Show Express: “Björn and Agnetha don’t want to fly together, so that one of the parents stays alive in case of a plane crash, to take care of the children.”
That’s why the next day in Frankfurt, Agnetha boards an airline to Stockholm together with her bodyguard...