Sunday 28 June 2009

Privé, January 1979: “We keep our feet on the ground”

An article from Dutch gossip magazine Privé about ABBA’s finances, meanwhile also informing us that ABBA wanted to stop touring for the sake of the children. As it turned out, they went on tour again that same year.
Only on hearing the name ABBA the cash registers start jingling. You can’t listen to a single chart without hearing a song by the Swedish supergroup in there. The members are all multi-millionaires and Benny, Björn, Agnetha and Anni-Frid don’t have to perform any longer. Just making records will bring in so much money that they could lead a very comfortable life. And for the time being there seems to be no end to their success. “But,” brunette Anni-Frid says, “we keep our feet on the ground. Our family is the most important thing for us.”

It happened at the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton in 1974. With the winning song ‘Waterloo’, ABBA’s name was on everybody’s lips. Since then, things went uphill and today, ABBA is the most successful popgroup in the world.
It’s hard to keep count of the amount of gold records that the group has received in every possible country, even in Japan. The members are all multi-millionaires. Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid, together with their manager Stig Anderson, have ‘arrived’! They are on top. And on top it’s ‘Money, Money, Money’!
ABBA has become big business. The millions are pouring into the ABBA-home in Stockholm with increasing rapidity. About once a week, big companies are making inquiries whether ABBA is for sale. The manager of the group, Stig Anderson, has announced that only serious offers of about 60 million a head are interesting. Only then will he start thinking about starting negotiations. That says a lot about ABBA’s current market value. In 1977, the turnover was more than 50 million Swedish crowns. Stig Anderson says that ABBA will continue as long as the members feel like it. When it comes to performances, the entire year of 1978 was fully booked for ABBA in advance.
What is ABBA doing with all that money? They say they are investing it in solid projects. That’s what they’ve learned from their manager. Currently, ABBA-manager Stig Anderson is the owner of two apartment buildings in Stockholm, that he bought for one million Swedish crowns. He has also bought the luxurious apartment where he resides. Price unknown. His company Sweden Music owns a house that was bought for almost two and a half million Swedish crowns and that was reconstructed for about two million; the ABBA-home where ABBA’s headquarter in Stockholm resides.
Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, the two men who write the music, are actually the basis of ABBA.
Björn says: “There are moments when we can hardly believe that all this has happened to us.” The most surprising thing about ABBA is that they have remained nice and friendly people, despite their success. Frida – the brunette – says: “Whatever happens, we keep our feet firmly on the ground. We are not completely new to this business and a bit of success doesn’t startle us.”
“We’re very normal people,” Benny says, and Björn adds: “Every now and then we think about how we eventually could escape all this attention, how we could return to normal life, whenever ABBA will stop existing one day.”

Is it true that ABBA doesn’t want to tour again and that they want to concentrate completely on making records?
After the Beatles, once the most popular and successful popgroup in the world, the four from Stockholm now want to realize the same thing as their famous predecessors did years ago?
Björn says that in the world of show business actually nothing is definitely over. But it’s true that they will stop touring. “We’ve neglected our family long enough now.”
For Anni-Frid and Benny, the aspect of the children probably wasn’t that crucial. They both have a daughter and a son, from a previous relationship. Those four children are between 11 and 15 years old, an age at which they become a bit more independent and acquire some understanding. But for Björn and Agnetha it’s a different matter. Apart from their five-year-old daughter Linda, they now have to care for their little son Christian, who is now eleven months old. “It’s irresponsible to leave the boy alone so often,” Björn says. “But no worries, we will keep on producing records.” So the tours are definitely over? Björn doesn’t want to confirm this: “Children grow up. We shall see...”

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Veronica, November 1976: ABBA is here to stay

An article from Veronica magazine, November 1976. ABBA’s popularity was reaching boiling point in Holland at this time. In 1976, every single and album they released rocketed to the number one spot in the charts, the compilation The Best Of ABBA was the biggest selling musicassette of all time, Arrival had just been released and on November 19 they appeared on the highly rated TV-show Eén Van De Acht, dressed in their iconic kimonos.
The popularity of the Swedish group ABBA has reached unprecedented heights. If we only take a look at our own country: numerous Top 40 hits, of which ‘Dancing Queen’ has been the biggest, one compilation album of which more than a quarter of a million copies were sold and the new album ‘Arrival’ of which more than one hundred thousand copies were sold already in advance sales. It was high time for the group to show their faces in our country. And that’s just what they’ll do: ABBA will be in our country this week to appear in Mies Bouwman’s television show and at the beginning of next year they will be back for a one-off concert. A unique event that will take place on the fourth of February at the Jaap Eden hall in Amsterdam.
This concert is part of a big European tour that has been a long time coming. ABBA doesn’t tour very often. They’d rather stay at home in Stockholm. Even for a television performance it’s practically impossible to entice Benny, Björn, Anna and Frida to travel abroad. But now a European tour has been put together with great care: ABBA will go to France, Germany, Scandinavia, England and Holland. They will be accompanied by a sixteen-piece band, while a gigantic light show and specially designed costumes will bring about extra effects.
After Europe, ABBA will travel to America, Japan and Australia. Especially in that last country ABBA is insanely popular. “This year, we’ve performed for forty thousand people over there and we were welcomed as if we were the Beatles!” The Australian audience is completely mesmerized by the Swedes: in hardly two months time no less than eight hundred thousand albums of the group have been sold. But actually the same story goes for the rest of the world. One record after the other is storming up the local charts. And with that these Swedes are the first artists, not coming from an English-speaking country, that have conquered a constant position in the international pop scene.

Saturday 20 June 2009

Pop Foto, February 1981: Win a great Pop Foto T-shirt plus a personal congratulatory message from ABBA!

I remember that I entered this competition in 1981. The (multiple choice) questions are really funny. For example: what’s Agnetha’s last name? Fältskog, Knäckepäck or Löteflöt (lol!).
There was a chance to win a T-shirt with a personal message and autographed by ABBA or the Super Trouper album. Sadly, I won the Super Trouper album. Of course, I already had that one...

David with ABBA! Recently, you have been able to read all about it in Pop Foto. But did you know that David brought something with him from Sweden, just for you...?

For years, Pop Foto has been very close with ABBA. It all started a long time ago, when ABBA was in Holland for the first time. David, assistant of pop-photographer Pieter Mazèl, immediately was very taken with the successful group. And the funny thing was: ABBA was very fond of Pop Foto’s David as well.
This made it possible for Pop Foto to continually publish the greatest reports about ABBA through the years. Because even when ABBA wasn’t in the mood or didn’t have any time to pose due to their full schedule, an exception was always made for Pop Foto. Thus, ABBA wholeheartedly agreed to surprise the ten winners of this Pop Foto T-shirt competition with a personal message.
Just think that you would win one of these. Wouldn’t that be great! And it’s not that difficult at all to have a chance at something this special. Because the questions really aren’t that difficult. And there are even 15 ABBA-albums to be won as well! Try your best.

Monday 15 June 2009

Oor, October 1979: ABBA-Chöre

A review of ABBA’s concert in Holland at the Ahoy venue in Rotterdam, October 24, 1979. The headline is a reference to the German choir group Fischer Chöre.
On the mere mentioning of the name ABBA, many serious lovers of pop music will turn up their nose and rebelliously exclaim ‘ABBAH!’. For the time being however, ABBA is the most successful group of the seventies and up till this day they deliver quality-singles on a regular basis, in which the sound of disco is shining through ever more prominent. Despite ABBA’s musical mood swing, from pop to doll-like rock-disco, the group is still extremely popular, in Holland as well, something that was once again underlined by the fact that the 8.500 tickets for the concert at the Ahoy sports hall in Rotterdam were sold out within one hour.

In contrast with the concert at the Jaap Eden hall in Amsterdam two years ago, where a complete mini-musical was performed on stage, simplicity was the keyword of this concert. From a plain and simple pyramid stage design, primarily hits were fired at the mixed audience. Practically all of them were present. From ‘Chiquitita’ to ‘Dancing Queen’. From the brand-new ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)’ to the oldie ‘Waterloo’. ABBA’s jukebox was playing at full force and, along with a competent band of subjects, made for as much hit potential as quality with every selection, at which the not always clear sound didn’t differ much from the records.

There were four pieces that were not ready to eat in the, for the rest, exquisite hit puree. Just like two years ago, Benny Andersson thought it was necessary to freak out on the Yamaha in an exceptionally bombastic symphonic-rocker. Pretentious and unnecessary self interest that he’d better save for his solo career. The same went for the song ‘I’m Still Alive’, which was performed solo by composer Agnetha from behind the same Yamaha. A pompous ballad of the kind that Barry Manilow writes ten of in one evening, performed by an overly ambitious lady. The boys from the band got to perform the obligatory solo number as well. That was the hard rocker ‘Not Bad At All’, in which Tomas Ledin, a celebrated disco star (from Sweden...), played a too worked up leading part. The most remarkable grape in the ABBA-porridge was the performance of the instant sing-along ‘I Have A Dream’. A kind of alternative ‘Internationale’, in which ABBA was assisted by twenty-five singing little children from the Rotterdam music school. So that’s ABBA-Chöre. Or ABBA with the Rotterdam harbour singers. It almost seemed as if Queen Juliana had turned seventy again. No Jos Brink around, so that had to be a misunderstanding.

No, practically all, mostly pretentious sidesteps of the hit group ABBA were irrelevant and only emphasized that the group is in a dissolving state, whereupon only the complete dismantling can follow. ABBA used to be a cosy group. Now it’s the relentless sum of solo contributions. Indeed, the ladies and gentlemen of ABBA, dressed in silver-grey and metallic-blue play-suits, did give each other a hug every now and then during the performance, but everything suggested that it didn’t happen wholeheartedly, due to the risen tensions on a personal level. ‘Money Money Money’ and Stig Anderson are keeping the group together in the year 1979. With great anticipation I’m waiting for the things that are going to happen to ABBA in 1980. There will probably not be one tiny bit of a ‘united to the eighties’ feeling, or all members would have to remain as ironical as Björn Ulvaeus was, who, on announcing the song ‘As Good As New’, pointed out that this very appropriate track would be sung by his on sale ex-wife...

Sunday 14 June 2009

Hitrant, May 1978: ABBA is slaving away behind the scenes

An article about ABBA’s activities in mid-1978. Preparations for the new album Voulez-Vous were made, which eventually would take up far more time than expected.
The year 1978 seems to have started off quietly for ABBA. After ‘ABBA – The Album’, the movie and the birth of Björn and Agnetha’s son (who was baptized under the name Peter Christian on the first day of Easter), we have heard very little from Anni-Frid, Benny, Agnetha and Björn. But that’s just a front: behind the scenes ABBA is slaving away. Or, like Benny puts it: “A quiet period of time; it’s just a lot of hard work.”

The two latest albums ‘Arrival’ and ‘The Album’ are still selling millions of copies. But as it happens, a pop group just can’t sit still. That’s not any different for ABBA: a lot of hard work is being put into the successor.
That’s why Björn and Benny are in each other’s company day in and day out, exchanging musical ideas and trying to write new songs.

They’ve developed a tight working schedule: five days a week from 10 o’clock in the morning till 5 o’clock in the afternoon, with a lunch break of one hour. That means 30 hours a week. Thirty hours on the piano and on the guitar, mostly at Agnetha and Björn’s home (after all, they do have to get up early, with two small children at home!).
“The first two weeks we didn’t get anywhere,” Björn says. “It’s always difficult to get that stream of creativity flowing. But luckily I can now say that we’ve finally developed a couple of terrific ideas; we’re very satisfied with it ourselves.”

Anni-Frid and Agnetha don’t sit still either. Anni-Frid is taking singing and dancing lessons. Her singing coach is Inga Sundström, a very well-known lady in Sweden. She’s getting dancing lessons from ballet teacher Graham Tainton, an American that emigrated to Sweden, he also guided Agnetha before her son was born.
In the evenings, Björn and Agnetha mostly stay in, for the sake of the children, and they are rarely seen in the city. But Anni-Frid’s shiny Maserati can regularly be found parked in front of the better restaurants in Stockholm: Benny and Anni-Frid are more outgoing than their friends. “Still, we really don’t party day and night,” Benny says. “Some people think that ABBA leads a life of movie stars, but that’s not true. We’re enjoying our lives, that’s true. But you don’t accomplish anything without work.”

Still, in Sweden the spring has started as well and that means that Benny has taken out his boat (an extremely luxurious cruiser), Anni-Frid has dug up her tennis shoes and Björn and Agnetha have taken out their garden furniture. Because it’s not all work and no play for ABBA...

Saturday 13 June 2009

Tros Kompas, June 1985: The story of ABBA

TV-guide announcement of the repeated broadcast of The story of ABBA. It featured one of the last joint interviews with the four group members and it was first broadcast on December 12, 1982. I remember this well since this was my birthday and I couldn't be part of the celebrations because obviously I had to watch this...
1974. ABBA wins the Eurovision Song Contest. The breakthrough of a Swedish group. After that, the foursome conquers the world by storm. At a high pace, ABBA makes extremely successful records, promotional videos, movies, concert tours and is even successful in the business world.
Agnetha Fältskog: “How happy we all were in the beginning. We were just married and had an unbelievable success. Of course, this couldn’t last. For years, we were together 24 hours a day and worked like madmen. Even during our holidays, Björn and Benny kept on composing songs. In the end, it all got too much.”
The result is widely known: the ABBA-couples separated and the group was dissolved some time later. Because of its overwhelming success, the fantastic ABBA-story is brought to the screen again tonight by Veronica.

Hitkrant, November 1982: Frida moves

A small news item about Frida moving to London in 1982.
Last week, it has been revealed that ABBA’s Frida Lyngstad will not only leave Stockholm, but Sweden as well: she’s going to reside in London. Frida stated that the reason for this decision is that she is in need of anonymity; allegedly she has become too well-known in Sweden which could be an obstacle for the continuation of her career. Frida emphasized that there are no disagreements within ABBA and that she will keep on working with the group.
In Sweden, it is suggested that the new government, that has announced drastic changes in tax legislation, might be the cause of the departure of the 37-year-old millionaire. Frida’s 15-year-old daughter Lotta, who’s in high school in America, and son Hans, who works as a studio technician in Sweden, stay where they are.

Thursday 11 June 2009

Veronica, August 1981: ABBA - Thank You For The Music

This 1981 article speculates about the impending end of ABBA, meanwhile also mixing up Stig Anderson with another manager, Robert Stigwood.
All good things come to an end. Although nothing has been made public officially, we will have to get used to the idea that the popular Swedish group ABBA is about to fall apart any day now. It’s sad, but that’s how things are. Private problems and saturation on a creative level are the cause of it all. A mere ten years after the Beatles disbanded, the end of ABBA only seems a question of time.

It seems to be very difficult to combine a successful career with a harmonious relationship. What started out ten years ago as a midsummer night’s dream, seems to end in tragedy. The two married couples, that developed ABBA into the biggest family company since Rothschild, have paid their price. Both marriages collapsed. Only the group’s name and investments are still keeping Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid tied together. And it all started out so good ten years ago. Two Swedish idols, Björn and Benny, were offered a contract by one Stig Anderson, a former teacher with a flair for good business. He gave the two ambitious young men the assignment to write hit songs, that they themselves or other Swedish nightingales could record. Elsewhere in the Swedish world of show business, the angelic Agnetha and the more mature Anni-Frid, who had become a national star thanks to a couple of television shows, were operating.
Benny had his eye on Anni-Frid and Björn fell for Agnetha, at the time the most successful singer with the northern people. Björn asked her to marry him and Benny and Anni-Frid were going to live together. Their work continued. The two boys started writing melodic pieces of music, inspired by their idols John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who kept themselves busy with resentful remarks towards each other through their solo albums around this time. Even Stigwood could not imagine that his protégés would surpass the sales of Beatles-records.
From the start, Stigwood didn’t leave things to chance. He wanted to introduce the foursome, that had stayed together after the hit ‘Ring Ring’, to about 600 million television viewers by means of the Eurovision Song Contest. He managed this in 1974. ABBA seized the opportunity with ‘Waterloo’, a title that’s applicable to the way the group is now falling apart. After this first success, Björn and Benny were facing the difficult task to expand their popularity with strong songs. As it turned out, this wasn’t a problem. The twosome created a sound that will go down in history as Europop. Within two years, all continents were conquered, with the exception of America.
America was a different matter. Apart from the Brits, practically not a single European group had been able to crack that country. Stig decided to take things easy. From ‘Dancing Queen’ onwards, the most beautiful pop song of the seventies, ABBA-records were getting into the American top 20 on a regular basis; several albums reached gold and platinum status. But Stig kept postponing a tour. Promotion was limited to visits to radio stations and one or two television specials. Perhaps Stig sensed the group’s fear for the mighty America; perhaps that country wasn’t as interesting anymore financially. Fact is that ABBA waited until 1979 before they paid a visit to a couple of American cities on their world tour.
At the beginning of that tour, the first cracks in the group were starting to appear. The fairytale marriage between Björn and Agnetha had ended. Psychiatric help couldn’t help matters. “We talked for almost two years, but finally we faced the fact that our marriage was over. Then we cut the knot,” Björn stated later on. The personal problems formed a striking contrast to the creative success. ABBA had broken all sales records. To date, only the late King Presley has sold more records.
Soon it turned out that the at first glance unapproachable Agnetha suffered most from the separation. She was spotted with a few men, but she mainly focussed on her duties as a mother. Björn soon found a new partner, that outwardly had a striking resemblance to Agnetha: Lena. In the meantime they got married and Lena is pregnant. During their world tour, Agnetha and Björn tried to disguise their divorce with a couple of jokes. But behind the scenes, the tensions must have reached a boiling point. Agnetha stayed behind somewhat devastated in her loneliness. ‘The Winner Takes It All’ seemed to be tailor-made for her attractive body.
After their journey around the globe, it turned out that the love between Anni-Frid and Benny, in the meantime they had gotten married in all secrecy, had cooled as well. Rather unexpectedly, they announced their divorce. Another woman had entered the scene: Mona Norklit, a Swedish television personality. At first, the creativity didn’t seem to suffer from the tensions. At the end of last year, the exquisite piece of studio work ‘Super Trouper’ was introduced during a big party. Side by side, the members attended the event smilingly. It was just a disguise. Because the show just has to go on.
But now there really seems to be no turning back. Agnetha and Anni-Frid are having solo plans, Björn and Benny are not as motivated anymore. Perhaps this crisis will pass. Whenever this is not the case, there’s nothing else left for us to say, with a lump in our throat, than: Thank You For The Music.

Sunday 7 June 2009

Pop Foto, January 1977: ABBA’s Anni-Frid had to hide her homesickness

A hilarious article from Dutch magazine Pop Foto. No other Dutch magazine could make up such funny stories with the available pictures.
What on earth could make you unhappy, when everything is going your way? When the Californian palm trees are swaying gently behind you and all doors are opening for you? What could you miss when you are smiling in front of a bunch of photographers, the television cameras are following every step you take and the hotel manager takes a bow like a pocket knife? What else is left to crave for? Your children perhaps, far away in the cold Sweden.

ABBA’s Anni-Frid made a full disclosure in the warm south of the United States. Something that placed Pop Foto’s detectives in Holland and Sweden in a dilemma for more than a year, was solved by our American photographer in one day. With the help of no other than Anni-Frid herself! What exactly are we talking about? About the mystery that has been on our industrious editorial staff’s mind for quite some time: Anni-Frid’s children! Ever since ABBA became known to the world, Anni-Frid strongly denied that she had any offspring, Benny joined her wholeheartedly, and the record companies in Holland and Sweden didn’t know how loud they had to say ‘NO’, whenever Anni-Frid’s (and Benny’s) children even were the subject of conversation. But once Anni-Frid arrived in America, she forgot about all her restraints. Her homesickness gave her away. The first few days in the country that ABBA wants to conquer went pretty well. There was so much to do; running from one television studio to the other, dress rehearsals, photo sessions and all those other things that you are expected to do during a promotional tour, that Anni-Frid fell asleep in the evening as soon as she hit the pillow...

But as the days went by, and Anni-Frid got used to the maddening American pace, the craving for her two children, from Anni-Frid’s previous marriage, started to get to her. Usually, she went to see the two children, that are placed in a foster home in Sweden, as much as she could. It had become a regular habit of Anni-Frid and Benny in the winter holidays to take their children (Benny has two children from a previous marriage as well) to a typical Swedish cottage, to spend a wonderful skiing holiday there. But they couldn’t go ahead with it now and as the month of December drew closer towards Christmas, and Anni-Frid had to stay in America, she felt unhappier. She became snappy, first towards press and television people and then towards her fellow ABBA-colleagues as well. Björn got told off when he tried to cheer her up and Agnetha stayed away from Anni-Frid as much as possible. And then Pop Foto’s photographer entered the scene...

The aforementioned detective noticed, just like all other people surrounding Anni-Frid, that something was wrong. But instead of being frightened off by this, he stuck around her and waited for his opportunity. That opportunity came when Anni-Frid, in between two television recordings, went for a walk in the park near the television studios all by herself. Like a true detective, the man with the camera followed Anni-Frid without being noticed and he hid himself behind a giant palm tree, when the Swedish singer sighed and sat down on a park bench. While holding his breath, the industrious Pop Foto man waited for the following things to happen, but nothing happened. Anni-Frid kept staring at the ducks in the pond melancholically. After fifteen minutes, our photographer took up all his courage and sat down on the bench next to Anni-Frid. “Erm,” he started courageously, “what’s the matter with you! I’ve been watching you for days now and erm... I think you behave like a raging spider. Are all Swedish girls like that?” Despite her homesickness, Anni-Frid had to smile. “Of course not,” she said. “I’m just craving for my children!” Our honourable photographer almost fell off the bench. This was a downright confession! “Your children?” he asked seemingly stupefied. “Yes,” Anni-Frid nodded. “I have always kept from the press that I have children. I don’t want them to be bothered by journalists who want to know all sorts of things about them. They are living with foster parents, but I see them very often. Until now, we’ve always been together at Christmas time, cosily joining together around the tree and things like that. In Sweden, Christmas is the biggest celebration of the whole year. And now they’re alone...” The photographer just sat there quiet as a mouse, until Anni-Frid suddenly got up, straightened her shoulders and composed herself. “You know what I’m gonna do,” she smiled. “I’m gonna take them on a vacation, when things have settled down and we’re back in Sweden. And until then I will have to hide my homesickness.” And after these words she walked, a little relieved, back to the studios, to Benny, and Agnetha and Björn... and all her other ABBA-commitments.

Saturday 6 June 2009

Bravo, October 1992: Björn, will you perform together once again?

An interview with Björn from German Bravo magazine published in 1992, the year that ABBA returned to the top of the charts with their best-selling compilation album ABBA Gold.
In the seventies, ABBA was the ultimate supergroup. With accessible, perfect pop songs the Swedish foursome scored one hit after another. Singer Agnetha Fältskog was married to founder and guitarist Björn Ulvaeus, singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad got married to composer and pianist Benny Andersson in October 1978. Son Peter is now starting his own band One More Time. In 1982, the band dissolved after eight extremely successful years.
Ten years later ABBA fever is in full swing. Erasure are dressing up like Agnetha and Anni-Frid, U2 played ‘Dancing Queen’ at their Stockholm concert, ABBA themselves found themselves in the charts again with their 1976 hits.
Bravo talked to ABBA-founder Björn Ulvaeus about the background of their incredible success.
Bravo: How do you explain the fact that ABBA is completely trendy again after ten years?
Björn: “I can only explain this renewed success with the possibility that people are getting tired of the fifties and the sixties. Lately, they have been milked dry to the last drop. Now it’s time for the seventies. And since we were rather authoritative during that time, it’s only natural that we’re now present again as well.”
Bravo: So what do you think about Erasure’s version and their dressing up as drag-queens?
Björn: “I don’t really look upon that as a parody of us at all. On the contrary, I’m flattered. They are paying tribute to us by doing what they do. I know that they grew up with our music, therefore it’s only natural that they want to play it as well. And I don’t mind them experimenting a little.”
Bravo: Do you miss the old times?
Björn: “No, not at all. Not one tiny bit!”
Bravo: Then there are no plans to take this opportunity and perform together again?
Björn: “I could imagine that their might be something that probably could bring us back together again, but at the moment I have no idea what that something might be. At the time, when we quit, we actually only wanted to take a break. We didn’t rule out the possibility of singing together again at some point in the future. But then the years went by, we all had our own projects, and then one day it just wasn’t to be anymore.”
Bravo: Did you fall out with each other?
Björn: “No, definitely not. We are still good friends and also see each other every now and then. Other rumours are simply not true. Although I write completely different songs today, I am still mighty proud of the things that I did in the past. But I see no reason to get back together again. Many groups have tried their hands at a comeback and mostly unsuccessful. It can even happen that the few good memories that are still left of the old times get tarnished as well. You should also be some kind of an exhibitionist, like Rod Stewart, to carry on. I’ve sufficiently paid my dues when it comes to tours and stress and everything else that comes along with the life of being a pop star.”
Bravo: You always had a clean-cut image and on top of that you got married to each other as well. That almost sounds too good to be true.
Björn: “That’s just the way we were. Things turned out as they did. First Benny met Frida and shortly after that I met Agnetha. We got along great. So it was only natural that we got married later on. Do you really think that Benny and I got it into our heads that we wanted to make music and become famous, and therefore needed two pretty singers that we would get married to. That would have been rather farfetched. And when you go on tour as two married couples, you behave in a different manner than five 18-year-old boys would do.”
Bravo: Together with Benny, you wrote the musical ‘Chess’ in 1985, that ran for years in London. Do you still make music today?
Björn: “I’m trying to get re-acquainted with pop music. At the moment, we’re writing songs for an album by Josefin Nilsson, a promising Swedish singer. And we’re also working on a new musical, that should be on stage in the autumn of 1994. It’s about Swedish emigrants in the nineteenth century and their fate while travelling to America. The book was written by the Swedish writer Vilhelm Moberg.”
Bravo: What are your fondest memories when you think about your time with ABBA?
Björn: “There are two clear things that have strongly remained in my memory. The first one is, when I sat down, thought and tried things and then hit on a good melody. Then I imagined how it would sound, went into the studio and played and played. When it was finished and I heard it through the loud-speakers and it really came out the way that I dreamed it would – that was a wonderful feeling.
The other was always at the beginning of a tour. We didn’t tour very often. During the eight years that ABBA existed, altogether we were less than nine months on the road. But always during the week of the shows, when you go on stage, say hello to the audience and notice how they react, how they go wild... those are impressions that remain.”

Friday 5 June 2009

Hitkrant, 1984: Frida suddenly fell into the arms of her ex-husband

A report about Björn, Benny and Frida having a reunion of sorts when they met each other in Holland in October 1984 while performing on the same television show.
After the rehearsals for the Platengala at the Ahoy’ in Rotterdam, a very affectionate reunion between three of the four ABBA-members took place. Frida as well as Björn and Benny had to perform in the television programme. Benny and Björn were there with lyricist Tim Rice and the principal character from ‘Chess’, Elaine Paige, and Frida was there by herself. She sang a couple of songs from her new solo album. It became very clear that there definitely isn’t any rancour between Frida and Björn and Benny when Frida fell into the arms of her (ex?)-colleagues.
Björn wanted Frida to tell him exactly how it is to live in London. Björn and his new wife Lena are planning to move to the British capital in the very near future. Ultimately, Björn still thought he had to give away a very large percentage of his hard-earned money to the Swedish taxes, therefore he will move to England from his much-loved Sweden before too long.

Thursday 4 June 2009

Hitkrant, December 1980: Agnetha and Frida singing with chop sticks

According to this report, ABBA wanted to record a song in Chinese for their tour of that country. In reality, ABBA sang parts of I Have A Dream in Japanese with a children’s choir when they toured that country in 1980.
Believe it or not, but before too long ABBA is going to record a song in Chinese! It is generally known that the group is making preparations to travel to China in the near future to perform a couple of charity concerts over there.
Since Benny and Björn are two perfectionists, they want to be able to perform a song in Chinese.
Writing the song itself won’t be much of a problem and neither will the lyrics, because you can get a Chinese to translate them, but the pronunciation will be!
Agnetha and Frida can brace themselves.

Hitkrant, December 1981: ABBA sets record

A small report about the success of the then newly released ABBA-album ‘The Visitors’ in Holland.
ABBA has set a Dutch record. Last Friday, November 27, the long-awaited ABBA-album ‘The Visitors’ was released and that same day 100.000 copies of that album were sold!
That means platinum in one day: an astonishing accomplishment that also indicates that the record industry thrives thanks to the true stars.

Monday 1 June 2009

Pop Foto, December 1977: Anni-Frid collapsed when she found out that her father was still alive – “I cried like a child”

An article from Dutch magazine Pop Foto about Frida finding her long-lost father in 1977, thanks to an article about ABBA that was published in German magazine Bravo.
She stood in the lit doorway, marked out like a dark image, and for a while he thought he was back in a different time, that sad time filled with fear, despair and violence. For one breathtaking moment he thought he saw someone else in the fading evening light, that one, long lost love... Then the woman on the threshold reached out her arms and the light of the glimmering lamp hit the red-brown hair, the high forehead and the almost familiar eyes. He hesitated and then purposely stepped forward. With their arms tightly wrapped around each other, they just stood there motionless for a while... Anni-Frid Lyngstad had found her father after thirty-two years!

This is how the first meeting between Anni-Frid Lyngstad, thirty-one years old, mother of two children and world famous as a singer with the Swedish group ABBA, and her presumed dead father, the fifty-eight-year-old Alfred Haase, adviser with a factory specialized in bakery equipment, went. Father of a thirty-five-year-old daughter, a thirty-year-old son and no less than two times grandfather! For minutes on end, they stand with their arms around each other in the evening breeze and don’t know anything to say to each other because he doesn’t speak Swedish and she doesn’t speak German! It’s Friday September 9 and Alfred Haase from Karlsruhe has made a long trip, from Germany to Anni-Frid’s mansion just outside Stockholm, and from 1977 to 1945! At five minutes past five, his plane took off from Frankfurt and, after a stopover in Hamburg, landed at Stockholm airport at ten minutes past eight. For three hours, Alfred sat rocking in his chair, hardly daring to close his eyes, because then he might see that face, with tears in the dark eyes, that has haunted him since February 1945... the face of the then nineteen-year-old Synni Lyngstad. When he finally stands in the arrival hall, apparently a calm man with waving grey hair, a beard and a belly, he gets approached by two neat young men who escort him to a black Mercedes, in which Benny Andersson and an approximately fifty-year-old lady are waiting for him. Within an hour, he stands in the semi-darkness in front of the door of the luxurious mansion and watches the door open, a woman nervously brushing her hair out of her face... Anni-Frid, the woman who has to be his daughter. Synni’s daughter! In the background, Benny and Anni-Frid’s aunt, a sister of Synni Lyngstad, have to swallow hard. Then Anni-Frid says ‘Wilkommen...’ and the ice is broken! Since recently, Alfred Haase knows that he’s the father of Anni-Frid Lyngstad, the woman who knows to sing ‘Fernando’, his favourite ABBA-song, in a way that gives him a melancholic feeling. Then his sister coincidentally saw a German pop magazine from her daughter, the fifteen-year-old Andrea Buchinger, casually read an article about ABBA and almost choked when she saw that Anni-Frid stated that she was the daughter of a drowned German soldier, Alfred Haase, her very own brother! The whole family was called together and Alfred’s son Peter surprised his father with the question: ‘Who was Synni Lyngstad, dad?’ and the article about Anni-Frid’s descent! When he had recovered from the astonishment and the emotion, he had to assume that Anni-Frid was his child. But only now, when he hears her speak, sees her face and her eyes, follows her movements and all of a sudden grabs her hand when she serves him coffee, he knows for sure. Anni-Frid is his child, his daughter, who was born from love in the cold north of Norway. That night, Alfred Haase finds it difficult to get to sleep in the special room in Anni-Frid and Benny’s house that will always be ready for him from now on...

Benny: “She didn’t believe it. She didn’t believe that her father was still alive in Germany. She didn’t want to see or hear him, not even talk about him! I called Alfred Haase and asked him questions that he only could answer if he really was her father. About Anni-Frid’s mother, the small cottage where he lived for a couple of months and about the village Balangen... He knew about everything, much more than I asked. Then we knew for sure and Anni-Frid was completely at variance with herself for days. We talked for nights on end and little by little she calmed down...”

Alfred Haase: “A thirty-two-year-old daughter! Imagine that. I never knew that that special girl in Norway, my Synni, who never answered my letters when I was back in Germany, gave birth to my daughter! The first thing I thought when I realized it was really true was: ‘How cruel life can be.’ Because Anni-Frid’s mother, Synni, must have been extremely unhappy. And lonely, when she died...”

Anni-Frid: “When you have always thought that you are an orphan, you start dreaming about your parents. You try to imagine how they would have been like. I had a couple of photographs of my mother, but I didn’t really relate to them. And about my father I only knew that he was a German soldier, who drowned when his ship was torpedoed, close to Denmark. Now that I know Alfred Haase, and know that only he can be my father, I couldn’t be happier. Because I couldn’t have wished for a better father!”

The tragic story of Synni Lyngstad

Actually, the love story of Alfred Haase, officer in the German occupying army, and Synni Lyngstad, an innocent village girl, is the classic story about two people who don’t end up together. Because there was a war going on, and he was a German occupier and she was still almost a schoolgirl.
She was 19, dark-haired and slender, when they met for the first time, and he was 26, a blonde guy with a moustache and a sense of humour. When he signed up for the military service in the German occupying army, Alfred Haase was a servant with a pastry baker, married to Anna Farbe and father of a two-year-old daughter, Karin. Synni didn’t know more about the world than her place of birth Balangen, and the town Narvik, fifty kilometres further on. It was June 1944. The Germans had occupied Norway with gruesome violence and a young German officer was stationed in a cottage near the village of Balangen. Every morning, sergeant Haase walked to the village and every morning, always coincidentally when he passed by, he saw a girl, taking care of her parents’ vegetable garden. After the first timid smiles, the moustached soldier mustered his courage and started a conversation. It wouldn’t take long for the righteous citizens of Balangen to see them together much too often. The people shook their heads and warned Synni Lyngstad: “Nothing good can come of this, he’s a German occupier!” But Synni smiled, shook her long, dark hair and walked to the cottage outside the village with a bunch of flowers the next day. In the course of that summer, her German improved, and her visits to the lonely cottage became more frequent... They walked through the vast forests together, took a swim in secluded lakes and were madly in love with each other. They forgot about the war with all its cruelty, but it wouldn't be long before that war would change their lives... In October 1944, Alfred Haase was relocated to Narvik, fifty kilometres from Synni! It turned dark in cold Norway, the war toughened up and Synni and Alfred didn’t see much of each other anymore. All of a sudden, in January 1945, a disturbing rumour spread among the German occupiers: they would leave, the next morning already, with the seven o’clock boat! That night, Alfred borrowed a bicycle, he just had to see Synni one more time. Ten kilometres from Narvik, the tyre broke down! Alfred stumbled back to the city, took another bike, that broke down as well, and then he stumbled to Balangen. Synni was there waiting for him. The two lovers didn’t speak much that night and the next morning Synni watched Alfred walking back to Narvik, with tears in her eyes. They would never see each other again...
Alfred reached Narvik on time and wrote a letter from Denmark, in which he enclosed his last Norwegian money. Around that same time, Synni received a message that he had drowned, somewhere near the Norwegian coast. According to Alfred Haase, he never could have imagined that Synni gave birth to a daughter in November 1945, that would be called Anni-Frid. He also never knew that Synni died of a kidney failure, two years after Anni-Frid was born, lonely and scorned by her neighbourhood, while the father of her little daughter started a new life in Germany...

‘Tyksbarn’ is how the people in the village of Balangen called Synni Lyngstad’s dark-eyed child, which means something like ‘German love child’. After her daughter’s death, grandmother Lyngstad had enough of being an outcast in the neighbourhood. She took the two-year-old Anni-Frid to Sweden, where no one knew about her descent.

“A reporter from Hamburg called me and said: ‘Do you still work? But what about all those millions you get from your world famous daughter?!’ Another one said, when I answered the phone: ‘Is this the famous mister Haase himself?’ Sometimes you can suddenly be disgusted by some people...”, according to Alfred Haase.

Muziek Expres, 1982: Agnetha took a holiday job

A small news item about Agnetha’s 1982 duet single with Tomas Ledin. Tomas entered the Eurovision Song Contest in 1980, not in 1976 (like this article will have you believe).
Agnetha Fältskog, to outsiders ABBA’s blonde, spent her ABBA-holiday musically, just like her friend Frida. Although there hasn’t been a long-player released yet. No, it concerns a duet together with Tomas Ledin. And who might that Tomas Ledin be? In Sweden, Tomas Ledin is a world famous guy, because in his home country he is known as an extremely popular pop singer. Still, Tomas is not completely unknown in Holland either. We have been able to admire him here performing live already back in 1976 when he was representing his country at the Eurovision Song Contest in The Hague. But observing ABBA-fans will recognize him as well, because Tomas Ledin is active as a backup singer with ABBA on a regular basis. So it’s obvious that he knows the lead singers pretty well! Now he has recorded a solo album that’s called ‘Human Touch’. This album contains one song that he sings together with Agnetha. Obviously, it’s not a coincidence that exactly this song, ‘Never Again’, has been released as a single.
But this is not Agnetha’s only musical activity. Since Frida has released a solo album, that has been received very well everywhere, she can’t fall behind. Agnetha is now working on her first solo album too and she has secured the services of top producer Mike Chapman. This album is due to be released in the beginning of next year.