Thursday 23 April 2009

Oor, May 1979: Voulez-Vous album review

A review of ABBA's 'Voulez-Vous' album from Dutch magazine Oor. Exactly 30 years ago today, the album was released by Polar Music in Sweden.
ABBA ‘Voulez-Vous’ (Polydor 2341 136)
So, this is the review of ‘Voulez-Vous’, ABBA’s latest album. No, please don’t start nagging immediately that you think ABBA is a toothpaste group, that’s creating commercial chart music in an unacceptable way, because I’ve heard that presumptuous crap more than enough. You have to rate everything in this world from an untainted point of view at its true value. Okay, ABBA creates commercial chart music. But yes indeed, commercial chart music that generally is head and shoulders (Agnetha and Frida) above the rest of the saddening disasters in the charts. Apart from that, it’s ABBA’s merit that, ever since they won the battle of Waterloo at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, the group has continuously managed to deliver acceptable worldwide hits.
Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus are true masters of composing hits, in which they always know to arm themselves with hooks that are swift as an arrow and choruses that invite you to sing along. Furthermore, the execution of those compositions, implemented with strong melody lines, is virtually always contemporary as well as ground-breaking and, thanks to the vocal contributions of that red-headed fireplace and that blonde vixen, sexy. ‘Voulez-Vous’ is the album on which ABBA is exploring the land of disco and funk, like they did earlier in ‘Dancing Queen’.
To restrict myself to disco... By doing that, thankfully they don’t opt for the completely soulless German interpretation of disco but, with a professional sense of quality and subtlety and a vision that’s completely their own, they borrow disco tricks from Uncle Sam’s disco-stompers and bumpers. Those disco tricks, in their execution technical know how and sensitivity go hand in hand, make for exciting patterns in ABBA’s offerings, that never last longer than just over five minutes. Just listen to ‘As Good As new’, ‘Voulez-Vous’, ‘Does Your Mother Know’, ‘Kisses Of Fire’ and so on, and so on. The rest of the material on ‘Voulez-Vous’, ABBA’s Banana Boat Songs like ‘Chiquitita’, falls into the category of fresh and uncomplicated Europop-songs, known from their previous albums.
A song deserving a special notification is ‘I Have A Dream’, in which Frida, without glasses and Atheniens but with the International School of Stockholm and at least as much Greek pathos, is putting on her Nana Mouskouri-act. I don’t want to waste too much words on the lyrics on ‘Voulez-Vous’. Those are written from the sometimes infantile point of view of the average disco goers as well.
‘Voulez-Vous’ is a ‘radiating’ ABBA-album. ABBA in the centre of the condensed laser beams in the disco. Bumping and freaking their way to the top of white disco, without giving the fans from day one muscular pain in their ear canals. How do I tell my mother?

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Hitkrant, October 1977: Anni-Frid's father is alive!

A small news report from Dutch magazine Hitkrant about Frida finding her father again in 1977.
Every true ABBA-fan knows that Anni-Frid lost both her parents at a very young age. But there has always been some uncertainty about the way her father died. Only recently, dad himself put an end to this uncertainty by showing up again ‘in the flesh’.

Anni-Frid’s father, now a 58-year-old retailer from Germany, had an affair with Anni-Frid’s mother during the war years, but was called back to Germany to serve his native country. Immediately after it turned out that Anni-Frid’s mother was pregnant with his child, it was reported that he had died on his way back.
Two years later, Anni-Frid’s mother died as well. Three weeks ago, Anni-Frid and her father met each other for the first time in Stockholm.
Anni-Frid: “We embraced each other and talked for hours on end. It was a surreal experience. To be honest, I still can’t believe it completely. The encounter was quite strange for my father as well, because he actually wasn’t aware of my existence until very recently. Furthermore, I’ve become even happier now.”

Tuesday 21 April 2009

Joepie, March 1981: Frida and Benny separated! But ABBA stays together.

An article from Belgian magazine Joepie, published shortly after Benny and Frida had announced their divorce.
ABBA, undoubtedly the most popular pop group in the world, has to deal with a new private problem. The bearded Benny Andersson and the dark-haired Anni-Frid Lyngstad officially announced that their marriage didn't work out and that a divorce is imminent. The other half of ABBA – Björn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Fältskog – already separated two years ago. Luckily, these difficulties remain a private matter. On a musical and professional level everything seems to be serene and it looks as if the ABBA-empire isn't showing any cracks just yet, despite everything. Unless...

We got to talk to Benny and Frida on the phone together at the same time. “It wasn’t a sudden decision at all,” they told us. “We thought long and hard about all aspects, talked about everything as adults with the required serenity and we have reached a mutual solution. Our decision will not interfere in ABBA’s future plans in any way. It’s a personal matter. We won’t get into the reasons, we think they are strictly private. But you can tell your readers and our fans that we’re much closer to each other now than before when there would be occasional tensions and frictions. History repeats itself, because with Anna and Björn it turned out the same way. We are putting the finishing touches to a special show, designed for American television and before long we will go into the recording studio for a new single.”
The 34-year-old Benny and the 35-year-old Frida got married in 1978, after they – like it happens in Sweden commonly - had been living together for nine years in the shape of a test marriage. They met each other when Frida was still a solo artist. In 1970, it was decided they should join forces with Agnetha and Björn and a couple of years later the foursome was one of the most popular pop groups in the world.

Rumours about Benny and Frida’s failed marriage started circulating last year when they ordered the court to investigate the terms of a judicial decision concerning the splitting of assets. Frowning journalists were fobbed off with fair promises. “It has something to do with avoiding a too heavy tax burden,” Benny laughed at the time. In the meantime, the rumours have been confirmed and it turned out that another woman has come into play, namely the 37-year-old television reporter Mona Norklit. The split-up didn’t come as a surprise to their friends, since the romance between Benny and Mona had been ongoing for a couple of months. “But directly speaking, Mona doesn’t have anything to do with Benny and Frida’s split-up,” someone from the ABBA-circle said. “Frida and Benny were already going their separate ways even before Benny met his new love. Frida has always known about the affair, from the beginning. The love between her and Benny had already been extinguished, when this all happened.”
Mona has been married before as well, to a jockey. She had been living alone for the past five years though. Mona, a former sports reporter, refused to give any comment concerning her romance with the ABBA-star. Mona is a presenter of the programme ‘Kafe 18’ on Swedish television on a daily basis. Furthermore, she is also a production assistant and she’s the voice-over in documentaries. Benny and Frida’s marriage remained childless. Although both of them respectively had two children from a previous marriage. A juicy detail: Benny and Frida got married shortly after their colleagues Agnetha and Björn had gone their separate ways as husband and wife. In the meantime, last January Björn remarried during a highly secretive ceremony, of which the other three group members weren’t even aware. Björn’s new bride Lena is a deadringer for Agnetha.

The fairytale is over. Because ABBA’s success story had something magical in the love area as well. But beautiful fairytales never last for long. Once again, it has gone to show that pursuing a fabulous career can hardly be combined with peace of mind on a personal level. Fame and a quiet, normal private life are each other’s opposites like fire and water. The tensions, the stress, the hectic life to remain on top have once again laid their claim on ABBA as well. A divorce is obviously never easy to deal with. Still, all of this has led to a patch of light after all. “Anna and I have always gotten along with each other pretty well,” Frida says. “But now we both have to deal with a divorce, we are getting closer more and more every day. We’re now just like little girls again, who don’t have any secrets from each other...”

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Joepie, December 1978: The story of ABBA soon on the silver screen?

Little did the writer of this Belgian article know that 30 years later there would actually be a musical movie in the theatres, based on ABBA's songs. And while being at it, even giving Grease a run for its money as the most succesful film musical of all time.
The success of ‘Grease’ hasn’t gone unnoticed by the ABBA-members either, although they’re very reluctant in their comments on the movie. However, friends of the Swedish foursome claim that Björn and Benny have seen the movie three times and that they were quite impressed with the result and the mania it has caused.
“ABBA claims that the recording sessions for the new album don’t run very smoothly, that they’ve fallen behind on their schedule,” wrote a Swedish reporter, who knows the foursome rather well. “The truth is much more simple: the boys didn’t want to release a new album at a time when all focus is on ‘Grease’. They want to wait until the mania has died down a little, and if you ask me, that’s a very clever move...”
Rumours are now circulating that ABBA has the intention of making an identical movie, and that negotiations with a well-known American film producer are already ongoing.
We called Benny about this subject, and he told us: “Indeed, there are plans to make a motion picture, but they already date back to the period when there wasn’t even talk of ‘Grease’. We’ve seen ‘Grease’ and we think it’s an excellent movie. But not in any way is it our intention to copy it. We’ve always been original with our music, when we make a movie we want to be original as well...”
Before long, Björn, Benny, Frida and Anna will be leaving for the States, where they will be guests on one of America’s most popular television shows. An appointment with the film producer – whose name they don’t want to reveal just yet – is on their schedule as well.
Benny: “The intention is to make a musical motion picture, that more or less tells the story about the origins of ABBA. How I met Björn, how I fell in love with Frida. And how Björn and Anna found each other. Several romantic scenes will be sung, and those parts will be released on record later. That might be the only comparison to ‘Grease’. It will also be a kind of an ABBA-scoop, because for the first time since the group was established, duo records will be released, by Frida and me, but by Anna and Björn as well. For quite some time we hesitated to make this movie, exactly because we were afraid we’d be accused of plagiarizing ‘Grease’. In the end, we will go ahead with it, because our fans have known for a long time that we intended to, and they’ll probably know that we won’t make a ‘Grease’-plagiarism...”

Monday 13 April 2009

Story, 1984: Frida is putting ABBA's comeback to a standstill

This article was published in Dutch gossip magazine Story, shortly after Björn, Benny and Frida had appeared at the Dutch Platengala.
“It’s not over yet for ABBA,” is what Björn and Benny are saying. According to the men there will be a new ABBA-album eventually. The biggest obstacle however is Frida. She seems to be the spoil-sport.

“Officially, we never put an end to ABBA. At some point in the future, we will release an album again,” according to Björn Ulvaeus.
Benny Andersson adds to that: “I think that ABBA will be heard of again in one or two years time. It also depends on Agnetha and Frida’s solo careers.”
By saying that, Benny touches upon the big obstacle, however without saying it clearly. Frida seems to be the spoil-sport. She’s putting an ABBA comeback to a standstill.
“Because Frida is living in London, we’re not in touch with her very often,” says Benny, her former husband. “It’s so much fun to run into her once again here in Holland. But unfortunately these occasions are very rare. On the other hand, we see much more of Agnetha. At least three times a week. Of course that’s due to the fact that she remained living in Sweden.”
Apart from that, the blonde singer’s solo career didn’t take off as successfully as Frida’s. The latter has a lot of success with her solo records and therefore doesn’t feel the need to take up the thread of ABBA again.
“No doubt it will happen at some point,” Frida confirms. “ABBA has never been dissolved officially. We didn’t feel the need to do that. However, at the moment I’m far too busy with my own career. That’s the most important thing for me now. Apart from that, I’m having a great time in London. ABBA is not very important for me at the moment.”

In all honesty, it has to be said that Björn and Benny are far from occupying themselves with ABBA these days. They’d rather talk about ‘Chess’, the musical they have written. They are very curious how the general public will take to this new project, that will have its premiere in 1985. “Maybe our lives will take a different turn because of ‘Chess’,” says Björn, as if he is carefully trying to suggest the end of ABBA. “Maybe ‘Chess’ will be the first incentive to even more musicals, who knows. When it comes to Benny and me, we’d love to. Actually, there’s nothing we’d rather do than writing and composing. We’re enjoying working in the studio much more than performing. But obviously we’ll have to wait and see which fate awaits ‘Chess’.”
Not without reason, the ABBA-men decided to have their first try-out in Amsterdam recently. “Holland has always been very important to us,” according to both Swedes. “We’ve had many hits here with ABBA. Every time that a record became a success in Holland, we knew we could release it elsewhere in the world with confidence. The Dutch audience has very good taste and isn’t afraid to give their opinion. Indeed, we’re not the only international artists who think this way about you Dutchmen. There are several others who give their record a try in Holland first. If we ever will continue with ABBA again, you will undoubtedly be the first ones to know about it.”

Sunday 12 April 2009

De Telegraaf, November 1982: Ten years of ABBA!

A recap of ten years of ABBA's success in Holland, published in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf in November 1982. The advert for the The Singles album is from Dutch magazine Hitkrant.
No one thought it would be possible but the group ABBA is still alive and kicking. Last year, it seemed as if the (except for the Beatles) most famous group ever had gotten the worst of it: both couples that had formed ABBA had separated, Frida as well as Agnetha cautiously started a solo career – and in Frida’s case not without success – and the guys offered their composing services to Sir Tim Rice, creator of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘Evita’, to collaborate on a new world-class masterpiece.
But no worries. The phenomenal success of the single ‘The Day Before You Came’, perhaps also caused by the promotional film in which a master’s hand has evenly mixed sadness and pathos, and the meanwhile in the bubbling under lists charting ‘Under Attack’, prove that ABBA is alive and kicking. This weekend, German television even managed to persuade the foursome to take their own plane from Stockholm to Saarbrücken to perform three new songs live in the studio, in front of a completely ecstatic audience. We might even call that a historical performance.
ABBA’s record company didn’t sit still either. They have calculated that it’s exactly ten years ago that Björn, Benny, Anna and Frida, like they were called at the time, started their intense career and on that occasion, the album ‘ABBA – The Singles (The First Ten Years)’ has been released recently, which includes all the hits from 1973 up to the present, including ‘The Day Before You Came’ and ‘Under Attack’. A total of twenty-two hits!

How it all started with ABBA is fairly known by now. The single ‘Ring Ring’ was the first one that could be seen on our, if I remember correctly NCRV, screen and the television viewer was taken by surprise. Although the song peaked at number five in the charts, Holland would soon let go of its illustrious attitude of ‘let’s wait and see which way the cat jumps’ and after that rewarded the young Swedes generously by sending virtually every single to the top of the charts. And not only our country was conquered: after the appearance of the foursome, by that time renamed ABBA, at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, they were unstoppable. With ease, ‘Waterloo’ scored off the songs by competitors such as Gigliola Cinquetti, Olivia Newton-John and Mouth & McNeal, and all European doors opened, including the ones behind the Iron Curtain. The successor ‘Honey, Honey’ sold more than two million copies, in 1975 followed by ‘I Do, I Do, I Do’, ‘So Long’, ‘SOS’ and ‘Mamma Mia’, each selling four million (!) copies.
At that stage, their biggest hits were yet to come. In the second half of the seventies, ABBA seemed to have found the definitive recipe for making hits, including promoting them with the help of an own director. In 1976, this resulted in the monster hits ‘Fernando’, ‘Money, Money, Money’ and ‘Dancing Queen’ (all of them number one in our country).
Especially ‘Fernando’, that would later be used as a blueprint for the Unicef-present ‘Chiquitita’, turned out be a bull’s eye. It sold six million copies around the world.
And we could continue like this for a while longer: ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’, ‘The Name Of The Game’, ‘Take A Chance On Me’, ‘Summer Night City’, ‘Chiquitita’, ‘Does Your Mother Know’, ‘Voulez-Vous’ and ‘Gimme, Gimme, Gimme’, all of them strongly influenced by disco, followed by the more melodic ‘I Have A Dream’, the severely autobiographical ‘The Winner Takes It All’ and ‘Super Trouper’.
It wasn’t until a year later that ‘One Of Us’ appeared (just like the previous three good for a number one spot in the charts), simultaneously with the release of the (eleventh) album ‘The Visitors’.
ABBA’s twelfth album – we already mentioned its title – is now in the shops and as it seems it won’t be the last one.

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Rotterdams Nieuwsblad, October 1979: "I'd rather be at the dentist"

This Dutch newspaper article about ABBA arriving in Holland for their concert was printed in a fan magazine, shortly after ABBA had performed live in Rotterdam on October 24, 1979.
I've added a few rare pics of ABBA in Holland from that same magazine.
“I saw them all!”
Beaming with joy, a little girl, about seven years old, is walking over to her girlfriends at airport Zestienhoven. A pen and a paper for autographs still blank in her hand, but not disappointed: she still got the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the musical millionaires of ABBA.

That wasn’t easy, since ABBA was surrounded by a crowd of photographers, policemen and airport employees. Despite the fact that the youngsters had the Wednesday afternoon off from school, the public interest wasn’t as huge as expected. The military police had been reinforced with communal police to keep the crowd in check, but hysterical scenes failed to occur.
Around one o’clock, the first ABBA-fans started to trickle into the hall of the airport. Shortly after, a salesman with ABBA-bags, -buttons, -shawls and –sweaters appeared, but his merits fell short. Around two o’clock ABBA’s airplane was expected to arrive; it didn’t come until a quarter to three.

The fans, remarkably often accompanied by their parents, had to wait at the gate next to the airport building. Two shiny black Cadillacs were only a few feet away and the plane came to a stand still nearby. On seeing their idols, the fans started shouting and screaming. ABBA waved back for a while, posed for the photographers for an equally short while and then moved up through the crowd on the platform to the cars. The customs officer didn’t succeed in acquiring an autograph either.
At the moment ABBA was getting into their cars, the fans started climbing over the fences, but the police kept them at a distance, so that the cars could leave the area escorted by two policemen on motor cycles. Not everyone who had been waiting was rewarded with an, albeit very short, glimpse of ABBA.
“Chin up,” a mother comforted her disillusioned looking son, “they’re really just ordinary people, just like us.”

At this stage, four members of the ABBA-fanclub have been waiting for an hour and a half in the hall of the Hilton Hotel, where the Swedish foursome would go to refresh themselves. “I’m a bundle of nerves,” a restless fan confesses while wriggling his ABBA-button. “Just the feeling that I’ll be seeing them up close and maybe even shake their hands... no, I might even give Benny and Björn a kiss.”
“If I had to choose between waiting for ABBA or sitting a the dentist, well... then I’d go for the dentist. That’s nothing compared to this tension. How cramped I feel,” another fan moans.
“ABBA is sure taking their time. What if they won’t come here after all,” a committee member of the fanclub fears.
Then finally, just a little past three, the black limo glides in front of the hotel. Björn is the first to get out of the car and waves smilingly to the policemen, who have escorted the car. Unstoppable, the fans (in the meantime twenty or so) are storming to the revolving door, where the exhausted ABBA-company is coming through.
Nothing can stop the four fanclub-members anymore to hug and kiss their idols. While Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid are accepting the flowers, the elevator is waiting already. Within half a minute they have disappeared to the tenth floor.
“I touched him,” one of the girls shouts, and “yes, I gave Anni-Frid a kiss and do you know what she said...,” a committee member beams.
The motor cycle policemen are coming in to have a look. “Say, listen here,” one of them says to a hotel employee, “could you arrange something. A ticket for tonight’s show or an autographed picture or something. We did escort them, you know.”
“What an experience,” the fans are swooning, “six minutes past three, that was the happiest moment of my life.”

Around five thirty, Agnetha finally comes down. She doesn’t say more than two words to her fans and doesn’t sign a single autograph. Her bodyguard takes her to the car. After her, Björn follows, taking a cab to the Ahoy venue. The other ABBA-half is pushing through the screaming crowd to the Cadillac.
Everyone is standing around in a daze... except the fanclub committee. “We are allowed to talk to them later on at Ahoy. It’s only a minute. But a minute can be very long.”

Sunday 5 April 2009

Veronica, July 1977: The ABBA-girls are facing a difficult time

A Dutch article from mid-1977, a time when the media loved to speculate about the disagreements between the girls, the couples and ABBA's finances.
On an island, thirty miles from the Stockholm coast, the steel doors are closing tightly. In ABBA’s pop factory, plans are brooded over. Manager and composer Stig Anderson is frowning his bushy eyebrows. There is work to be done, because ABBA has reached a delicate stage. The musical formula that they developed, is being imitated all over the world. What do they have to do to keep the attention focussed on them? It’s not easy.

In the autumn, a new album will be released. This year it’s still clear sailing. But is ABBA going to make it until 1980? The problems are huge. That’s why they are working in full isolation on their private island. No one is being allowed in. Stig and company are protecting their musical process as if it were a secret recipe. “I’m aware of it,” he says worriedly. “The first new trend in music can wipe away ABBA completely. We are now concentrating on America. If we succeed in conquering that entire country with a tour, the absolute peak will be reached for us. Unless we will be able to get a break in Russia, China, North Korea and Vietnam. Those are the only countries where they’ve never heard of us.”
There is one question that’s torturing the ABBA-pivot. When will it be over? Benny Andersson (pianist, composer and Frida’s husband) says: “We don’t have to continue for the money. We’re now many times a millionaire already. The finances are being invested sensibly. We could live comfortably on that for the rest of our lives. We’re tired, but not broken yet. Still, I don’t want to wait for the moment that we have to quit because our records don’t make number one in the charts anymore. ABBA should become history as a legend. And I don’t see Agnetha and Frida take to the stage as grandmas either. We’re in our thirties, aren’t we?”

Benny is consumed by doubt and confusion. He knows very well how the atmosphere is within ABBA: polite, but not amicable. When there’s no reason to perform or record, the two couples remain completely separated. Björn and Agnetha go their own way, and Benny and Frida as well. The guitarist and his blonde wife bought an island in Viggsö. The pianist and the difficult Frida had a luxurious residence being constructed on the island Lidingö. The place where all rich Swedish celebrities are living.
The source of all the tension between the two couples is Frida. This dark-haired beauty seems so self-confident and friendly whenever she is surrounded by journalists or cameramen. The reality is different. Frida is often suffering from depressions. She is still having difficulties with an inferiority complex.

Her problems started long ago in the Norwegian town Narvik where she was born. Her father was a German soldier. Because of that, her mother immediately got the tag ‘German’s sweetheart’. Her father promised to return after one year when things had settled down. He never showed his face again. For little Frida it was better to grow up in Sweden. Although she couldn’t help her descent, she would face a difficult childhood in Norway. Together with her grandmother she emigrated to Sweden when she was only one year old. Craving for love, she married a musician when she was eighteen years old. At that stage, she had already sung for five years, among others with her own band ‘Anni-Frid Four’. Frida had two children, a son and a daughter. Their marriage deteriorated and she left for the Swedish capital. Living life to the fullest. Frida didn’t find happiness there either. Her relationships were limited to brief sexual contacts. Until she met Benny. A divorced man with two children. The judge gave her custody of son Hans (13), so their family consisted of five people.
“I didn’t make things easy for Benny,” she said. “Time and time again, I was drawn back in moods of deep melancholy. He always helped me to get through it. Without him, I would have remained a little and cheerless bird.” Her gloom doesn’t do the atmosphere within ABBA much favours. From the beginning, she felt she was in the shadow of the attractive blonde. It was the incentive for mutual rivalry. Many arguments preceded the current truce. The ladies only exchange the necessary information and with pleasure they add a cynical undertone to that. Apart from that, there’s the fact that Benny and Frida are night owls. They love to go out and as a consequence, the next morning they appear at appointments too late. A thorn in the flesh of the other couple.

Frida tried to overcome her supposedly disadvantaged position by recording a solo album. The first bomb, threatening ABBA. Stig Anderson dismantled the explosive immediately by forbidding television performances. Frida agreed under protest. Benny silently resigned to the awkward situation. There’s also some talk of her being displeased with the division of the ABBA-millions. The shares in the company are divided between Stig, Benny and Björn. Because of her marriage to Björn, Agnetha is getting her share as well. Frida doesn’t want to get married, but because of that she has to make do with a minor percentage of the turnover.
Opposed to that, Frida and Agnetha are both presidents of the general music company Polar Music. Both of them are on the payroll there for 200.000 Swedish crowns a year. Still, ABBA doesn’t know how to put away all that money. They’re buying art as if their lives depended on it. The Picassos are piling up. It’s their intention to start a large gallery in the near future, to exhibit and sell all their works of art. They are also starting their own book publishing company, of which their own autobiography ‘The Phenomenon ABBA’ is the first issue. The third leg on which their continued financial existence will stand, is a production company for promotional films. This company will get establishments abroad as well, because the Swedish economy is thriving more than enough on their tax assessments. That one urgent question still remains: when will the finishing line be in sight? We will know more in five years time.

Friday 3 April 2009

Hitkrant, January 1983: "Nuclear weapons must be fought by all means"

This article was printed in Dutch magazine Hitkrant in 1983. It's quite obvious that it was published during the time that the cold war was still in full swing.
With every hour that passes, she’s gaining a small fortune. After ten years of ABBA, she doesn’t even know how much money is in her bank account. She is worshipped by millions of fans and gets hundreds of marriage proposals on a daily basis. Every dream she had as a teenager became reality. But still Agnetha refuses to alienate from the world she’s living in. She is very well aware of the current problems and is prepared to do her bit to help matters.

“What’s the use of all that money when there won’t be a future anymore for our children,” she says. “Very often I think about the nuclear armament and the impending danger of an all-destructive war. The politicians are playing a dangerous game and I think everyone should raise their voice to that. I’m a member of several peace movements and I attend their meetings on a regular basis. Only recently, I walked along in a demonstration in Stockholm. It was very moving. All participants joined hands and formed a human chain of five kilometres between the Russian and the American embassy. I was extremely proud of this initiative. I’m convinced that it will lead to results as well. Politicians are out to get votes and that’s why they pay attention to the masses. The more we show our discontent in public, the more chances we have to succeed. After all, it’s about our life and our children’s future.”

Agnetha’s social awareness reaches even further. She’s also an active member of a couple of anti-alcohol and anti-drugs associations.
“I make television commercials for these campaigns that are broadcast by Swedish television,” according to Agnetha. “Due to the imminent conflicts in the world and the crisis, the hope of the youngsters is severely damaged and they are looking for an escape in booze and drugs. That’s what I call pure self-destruction. It’s almost as bad as the nuclear bomb! The associations that I’ve joined up with, want to educate the adolescents about the fact that drugs and alcohol will not bring a solution, on the contrary. Obviously, I make use of my popularity to support these movements. I just think it’s my duty. After all, I have all those people to thank for my wealth and my success. But that’s not all. My own life is at stake as well and I want a better world for my children. If everyone would think the same about that, the world would rapidly be a lot better and more beautiful place.”