Sunday, 6 September 2009

Bravo, December 1981: ABBA, highlights from their super career

A recap of ABBA’s career from German magazine Bravo, published shortly before the Dick Cavett Meets ABBA TV special was broadcast on German television.
When on the evening of December 4 the most famous ABBA-songs from ‘Waterloo’ to ‘Super Trouper’ are glimmering on the German television screens for 45 minutes, Björn, Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid will be looking back on ten successful years with 100 million records sold.
In the television special, featuring music and conversation, that was taped earlier this year in April in a studio in Stockholm and presented by US talk-show host Dick Cavett, the shady side of their fairytale-like career will be discussed as well.
When they established the group ABBA in 1971, Anni-Frid and Benny and Agnetha and Björn were two happy couples, that got along privately as well.
Today, after their spectacular divorces and with new partners, they are four individuals, who are all going their own way. Although Björn and Benny are still writing ABBA’s songs together and both girls are giving the group its voice, apart from their profession they’re not connected to each other in any way.
No one could predict this state of affairs, when they met each other 15 years ago.

In 1966, Björn Ulvaeus, leader and guitarist of the Hootenanny Singers and Benny Andersson, keyboard player and songwriter of the Hep Stars, become friends after performing together in Västervik.
In 1968, the 18-year-old Agnetha Fältskog from the small town Jönköping in Stockholm scores a hit with a self-written tear-jerker. She meets Björn at a performance.
In 1969, Benny falls in love with Anni-Frid Lyngstad, a singer with a jazz band. People are accusing her of leaving her husband and two small children because of him. However, still that same year she moves in with Benny, who has experienced a failed marriage himself as well.
In 1970, the foursome appears on stage together for the first time at a restaurant in Göteborg, under the name Engaged Couples. Albeit with little success.
In 1971, Björn and Agnetha get married in an idyllic village church in Verum in the south of Sweden. 3000 fans are crowding the streets, while Benny is playing the wedding march on the church organ. A couple of months later, the four Swedes sign a contract as ABBA with Stig Anderson’s record company Polar. They experiment with their style, until they finally find it with ‘People Need Love’.
In 1973, although Agnetha is heavily pregnant, ABBA is taking part in the Swedish heats for the Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Ring Ring’. They only finish in third place.
In 1974, they have a second attempt. For months on end, Björn and Benny are tinkering at their song in a concealed house on a peninsula. Stig and Björn are going through history books to get an idea for the lyrics. The result is called ‘Waterloo’. With this song, ABBA wins the Eurovision Song Contest in the English port town Brighton. Within a matter of time, the song is in all the charts, the first album with the same title and the first tour through Europe are gathering enormous acclaim. ABBA has made it.
In 1975, 25.000 fans are coming to each one of their concerts in Australia and New Zealand. In the meantime, ABBA is delivering several hit singles and at least one top album every year.
In 1976, their technically most accomplished album ‘Arrival’ is released. Nevertheless, the critics are complaining that the feeling and the content of the songs have suffered from this.
In 1977, after six months of rehearsals, ABBA starts their first world tour with a forty-piece crew. At the end of the year, their documentary movie ‘ABBA’ has its premiere in Melbourne.
In 1978, after having lived together for nine years, Benny and Anni-Frid get married in the small church of Lidingö.
In 1979, ABBA makes a profit of 65 million German Marks. They’ve developed into Sweden’s most famous export article and own the most lucrative company of the country. They own shares in banks and factories, department stores, a music publishing company and a record company. Nevertheless, privately it’s starting to go downhill. With the divorce between Agnetha and Björn, the first dark clouds start to appear at the ABBA-sky...


Anonymous said...

Some brilliant pics in these articles thankyou Michel


Michel said...

Thanks, JS. Unfortunately, some of the dates mentioned here are inaccurate.
The first pic shows ABBA posing for German photographer Bubi Heilemann in 1974, not in 1978.
The second pic does not show ABBA performing Fernando in 1976. It was taken during their appearance on the Olivia Newton-John television show in 1978.

Iris said...

The Bravo articles were always terrific . Thanks Michel , for posting . The pictures alone makes it worthwile .

ivana said...

It is interesting to see that Frida's early victory in 1967 with En Ledig Dag is either skipped or the reporters don't know the facts. She wasn't just a jazz band singer.
I also watched a documentary in which all three pre ABBA careers are mentioned quite a lot while Frida's 67 breakthrough (well sort of) is simply omitted and Frida was described like a bar singer who met Benny somewhere... very disappointing.

Michel said...

Thanks for your comment, Ivana. It´s indeed disappointing that Frida´s early career is often overlooked. From what I understand, Frida received a lot of critical acclaim for her vocal skills, although her early singles were not successful in the charts.
The jazz-oriented music she recorded was not really chart material. When she met Benny, she started to move towards pop music and finally achieved commercial success as well.