Saturday, 7 June 2008

Joepie, November 1981: Young accordion-virtuoso became hitmaker

In November 1981, Belgian magazine Joepie started a series of 4 articles, filled with pics from ABBA's private photo-album. This is part one: Benny.

From this issue on Joepie brings you, in four episodes, the story of ABBA. Or rather the life-story of the four members. Some details you might know already. But never before has a series about the Swedish foursome been so extensively illustrated with pics from yesteryear. For the first time ABBA allows a look into their private photo-album. First it’s Benny’s turn.
You can never start too early, that must have been the catch-phrase of ABBA’s Benny Andersson. Indeed, he started out very early, in music and in love. Benny Göran Andersson was born on December the 16th 1946 in Stockholm. When he was six years old, he got his first musical instrument, an accordion. His father and grandfather, enthusiastic musicians themselves, teached him how to play. This way Benny was introduced to music at a very young age. Obviously he owes his skills to this early start, so he says himself. Even today he is unable to look at any new instrument, without trying it out. He is a born musician. At his 10th birthday Benny got a piano. Already a year later the young virtuoso could be admired at the Stockholm pub “Jugendgarten”. At this pub Benny met his first true love. Her name was Christina Grönwall, she was an amateur-singer, and accompanied Benny at the piano. Soon after that they were inseparable and at the age of 15 they gave a huge engagement-party. They never got married, but still had two children: Peter (now 18) and Helen (now 16).
After leaving his first group, Elverkets Spelmanslag, Benny became the organ-player with the Hep Stars in 1964. With a song called 'Drop In', composed by Benny, they debuted on television. With the follow-up, 'Cadillac', the Hep Stars were at number one in the Swedish charts. But the success eventually didn’t last. When on top of that financial problems occurred, the group could not be saved. The Hep Stars split up in 1967. Shortly after that he met Björn. In the office of Benny’s father they wrote their first song, and in 1969 they started performing together.
A year before, Benny had met Frida, at a radio broadcast. They immediately clicked. It wasn’t until 1978 that they finally got married, in full silence. For thirteen years they had been living together. The announcement of their divorce was a complete surprise for everybody. The divorce took place in full silence as well. One day Benny came home, and told Frida he had met another woman. He meant the 38-year old Mona Nörklit, who had been working for Swedish television. “Frida and I have remained good friends,” Benny says. “Our relationship is excellent, we respect each other. We still talk a lot about music. We see each other regularly outside ABBA. Also privately.”

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