Sunday, 15 November 2009

Story, May 1977: Plane crashes are spoiling the happiness of ABBA’s Anna

Terrifying images of crashing airplanes are going through the mind of ABBA’s blonde singer Anna. That’s why the group has decided to travel separately as much as possible.

“Sometimes I wake up screaming in the middle of the night. Then I’ve had yet another dream about a crashing airplane. I watch it go up in flames and in those flames I see the face of my little daughter Linda. It’s horrendous! I’ve talked about it to a doctor once, but it seems that it can’t be cured. Subconsciously, I think far too much about all the things that can go wrong in an airplane and that’s why I dream about it so often at night. I’m having nightmares.”
The always radiant face of the blonde ABBA-singer Agnetha, in everyday life simply named Anna, now looks serious. Of course, she enjoys being celebrated all over the world, but success can have its disadvantages as well! Anna talks very openly about these disadvantages, as if it’s a warning to all of those young people who are trying to find a future in show business. Anna is afraid! Afraid that she doesn’t pay enough attention to her five-year-old daughter Linda, afraid that the success might be all over at some point in the future, but especially afraid of flying.
She says: “We’ve decided to spend half of each month at home. If it was up to our manager, our record company and our fans, we would never see our house again. But now we are travelling ‘only’ fifteen days each month. Especially for television recordings in several countries. Although I would prefer it, it’s obviously impossible to do all of this by car and boat. Therefore, we just have to travel by plane all the time. I know that less plane crashes occur than car accidents, but still I’m afraid. I always think: you might be in that wrong plane...”

“That’s why Björn and I decided to fly separately as much as possible. Björn usually catches an earlier flight and waits for me at the airport. He is happy to do this for me because he knows that’s it’s a comfort for me. I don’t even dare to think about the both of us dying in a plane crash. Then our daughter would suddenly become an orphan. I once read somewhere that people from the royal family are travelling this way and then I said to Björn: ‘that’s exactly what we should do as well’.”
For the dark-haired singer Frida this isn’t really a problem. She always travels along with Agnetha just for fun, while her ‘eternal’ fiancée Benny (with beard) likes to keep Björn company. Frida has children as well, two with her first husband and two with Benny, but she’s more down to earth.
“Oh well, I think exactly the opposite. Like: why would I be on that particular airplane that has engine trouble? So many airplanes go up in the air every day, so that would really be a coincidence. When your time has come, then so be it, is what I always say. Still, I will never laugh at Anna because of this. I have other problems.”
For Frida, the biggest downside of the immense success is always having to look spick and span. “We always have to look our very best. I get so tired of that. Every day we have to wash our hair, put in hair curlers, wear beautiful dresses and there we go again... We are not a pop group, but a group that appeals to people from 2 to 80 years old, therefore we have to behave like that. But every now and then I get fed up with spending hours in front of the mirror every day. Therefore, I’m often not much to look at on the days that we spend at home.”
Anna and Björn and Frida and Benny and their children live very close to each other, in a suburb of Stockholm. Frida’s children from her failed marriage – she got married when she was still a teenager – live with their father and only spend the weekends with Frida, when their mother is at home, that is. The four ABBA-members spend their holidays in their beautiful country house at the Swedish coast. To the two ladies’ dissatisfaction, there isn’t much time to really enjoy their holidays, because Björn and Benny are simply hooked on their music and spend every free minute to come up with new songs together. Even on the days that they are at home and don’t have to travel, they can be found in their office in Stockholm at nine o’clock sharp.
Benny explains: “We write the songs together with our manager Stig Anderson. Sometimes we write ten songs in one day, and often all of them end up in the waste-paper basket. All three of us consider what we will and what we won’t use. Especially Stig has a good ear for what’s going to be a hit and what isn’t. Only when these choices have been made, Frida and Anna come into the picture. With their dance instructor, they rehearse the performance and with us, the music. We often have great fun.”

Up till now, more than thirty million ABBA-records have crossed shop counters, and that number is considerably higher than the Beatles’. Of course, we don’t have to tell you that this obviously brings in a lot of money.
Björn: “Of course we are millionaires. We get a steady salary, which is 150.000 per year for each of us. The rest is invested in the company that we have founded. With that money, projects like supermarkets and houses are being financed. So we don’t get our hands on that money. We didn’t want that either because we don’t have the time to spend it all and this way we are making good use of it. Apart from that, money isn’t the most important thing for us. Otherwise we would have left Sweden a long time ago, because we have to pay piles of money to taxes.”
Anna smiles tenderly for a while on hearing these words and says: “The success is the most important thing for Björn and Benny. They don’t have much interest in the money. I wouldn’t know what to do when everything would be all over, because it would be devastating to Björn. That’s why I will keep on going for the time being!”

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