Yes, it was indeed a triple celebration on November 19 at the Bel Air Hotel in The Hague: not only was the supergroup ABBA finally welcomed in our country in the flesh, and not only did Agnetha, Frida, Björn and Benny receive an impressive pile of gold and platinum records and even a gold musicassette. Apart from that, the Dutch press, radio, television and the record industry had the opportunity to get acquainted with the Hitkrant. And for the first time, on behalf of this new magazine, the Hitkrant trophy was handed out. To ABBA, obviously: a tribute from a young pop magazine to a world famous pop group!
Of course it cost a good deal of trouble before we could have this celebration: endless discussions and phone calls. With ABBA, with ABBA’s manager Stig Anderson and with record company Polydor whose help was vital. But in the end everything turned out right and that’s why that Friday a celebration was held that will be talked about for a long time to come.
It all started at 12 o’clock noon, when ABBA arrived at Schiphol Airport (not by helicopter, but it still was a spectacular ‘arrival’) and they were welcomed by representatives of the record company and Hitkrant (Ruud van Dulkenraad and Ad Visser). The interest from the press and television was more than we had expected. When ABBA came out of the tunnel at Schiphol, it was completely crowded with people. A VOO television crew was filming the proceedings and without a doubt you will be able to watch it on your television screen in the near future.
From there, the four stars took off in limousines to The Hague where they had the opportunity to catch their breath in their hotel room for a while. And they would need that breath for the rest of the day, because their schedule was packed: rehearsals for Mies Bouwman’s programme Eén Van De Acht, that would be broadcast that same evening from the Congress Centre situated next-door to the hotel and that you undoubtedly have watched.
And then there was the press conference that started around five o’clock, where ABBA would be surprised with a load of gold and platinum and of course the Hitkrant trophy: an award that will be presented on a yearly basis from now on to the group or artist that deserves it the most according to its readers.
Because already now, before the closing date, it became clear from your submissions to the Poster Top 5 and the NHK Poppoll 1976 that ABBA had a huge advance that could not be beaten anymore. The popularity of the Swedish group seems to be immensely big. This also showed during the rehearsals for Eén Van De Acht when a spontaneous applause erupted from the television people and representatives from the press when ABBA entered the stage and performed three songs from ‘Arrival’, professional as always, even when the strip of Björn’s guitar broke during the first bars of the first song...
Meanwhile, Björn, Benny, Frida and Agnetha (to name them in a different order for a change) were on their toes from fatigue. But still they remained friendly and appeared in good spirits at the press conference in their hotel, under loud cheers from the people present.
The president of record company Polydor handed over an impressive pile of gold and platinum records and even – that’s a novelty – a gold musicassette. After that, the Hitkrant representative Ad Visser came on stage who not only presented them with the Hitkrant trophy but also the so-called zero issue of Hitkrant, wherein – who would have expected anything else – an ABBA photo turned out to be the first colour poster.
Subsequently, the press got the opportunity to ask some questions and girls dressed in Hitkrant T-shirts entered the room to hand out zero issues to the people present.
A zero issue isn’t meant to be commercially available, but it serves the purpose of showing interested people what the first issue will look like: it almost looks the same as issue one and the reactions we heard were actually only positive, reason enough to look at the future with confidence.
Besides, ABBA themselves were pleasantly surprised by this new magazine as well. Frida: “This is something very special and I’m almost certain that it will be very successful.” In the first issue of Hitkrant, there will be an extensive interview with ABBA by Ad Visser, of course accompanied by exclusive pictures. But you will have to have some patience for a little while longer. We also saw Willem van Beusekom working industriously with his tape recorder, so chances are that you will hear more about this on the radio too.
It was a day that we won’t easily forget: the meanwhile most popular group in the world and the first Hitkrant together in Holland!