Sunday, 22 November 2009

Veronica, July 1975: ABBA, do you mean the pop group or the Swedish herring?

An article from Dutch Veronica magazine, July 12, 1975. At the time the SOS single was at number 3 and the ABBA album at number 4 in the Dutch charts. Another example of a journalist who didn’t do much research on his subject. According to this article, Benny was Stig’s son and Frida and Benny were already married. Allegedly, Benny said in this interview that they liked to dress Frida in stylish clothes and Agnetha in sexy clothes. Did the girls have any say in the matter?
ABBA has conquered the world. With ‘SOS’, they softened the ears of millions yet again. Not bad for a Swedish group. We decided to go and see how these two married couples are doing. They are getting richer and richer, but happier as well?

They are pure Swedish. ABBA is so Swedish that the younger generation over there thinks that a certain kind of herring is named after this super quartet. That’s not true, because as a kind of herring, ABBA has existed for years already. ABBA as a popular singing group dates back to 1972. Since the release of ‘Ring Ring’, they have acquired a spot at the absolute top in Scandinavia, but in the rest of Europe they are keeping their end up as well. From their album ‘Waterloo’ (named after the winning Eurovision song), more than 300.000 copies were sold. That speaks volumes.

Their new album was Album Of The Week, their top ten hit ‘SOS’ was the week’s Chartbuster and with this achievement they’ve made their permanent mark. For the time being, they won’t be present in Holland in the flesh. Recently, ABBA was here to film a television special for the NCRV. This show will be broadcast at the end of August. Four young people, who look great and make nice music. A treat for the eye and the ear. Good heavens, what else could you long for.
Benny: “We still want to achieve a definitive breakthrough in England and America. Then, we will have achieved everything that’s within our possibilities. Our records always made the American top 100, but we still haven’t been really accepted.”
Pianist and composer Benny Andersson is more or less the mastermind behind the group. He is the son of the famous and powerful Swedish music publisher Stig Andersson. He knows the music business like no other.

Benny: “I already started as a pop musician back in 1963. Simply in a band called the Hep Stars. But the Beatles paved the way for us. Within a matter of time we were the Swedish Beatles, the top group in Scandinavia. I met Björn during a tour in 1966. He played in the skiffle group the Hootenanny Singers. We talked a lot and it turned out that we had a lot of things in common. Every now and then, we worked together but it wasn’t until 1970 that we really set our minds to it. At the time, I had achieved eight gold records with the Hep Stars and that seemed enough for the time being.”
In the meantime, Benny got married to singer Anni-frid Lyngstad, who was very well-known in Sweden. Björn had tied the knot with a beautiful girl as well. That was the blonde and sexy Agnetha Fältskog, who had scored a couple of number one hits in Stockholm and its surroundings. The quartet was already very famous as individuals. Therefore, it was a sensation when both couples decided to join forces. Initially, they were launched as Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Frida. An unutterable name for foreigners, therefore it was changed into ABBA rapidly, after the Swedish herring. With ‘Ring Ring’, they got European recognition, but ‘Waterloo’ conquered the world.

Benny: “Since the Eurovision Song Contest last year, we’ve been travelling all over the world. Sometimes it got so crazy, that we asked in the television studios in which country we were. To prevent ourselves from going completely insane, we gave our manager a clear assignment. Every now and then, we’d like to be at home for a while. All four of us love sailing, but we prefer to do that separately. We live close to each other in a beautiful area just outside Stockholm, but consciously we don’t see too much of each other in our spare time.”
ABBA is paying a lot of attention to their outward appearance. They wear the most outrageous clothes. We already saw that at Eurovision, but in later television performances they kept surprising us with their tasteful clothes.
Benny: “That’s really our image. We don’t care much for all that glitter, but nice and extraordinary things are always appealing to the audience. My wife Frida is rather sophisticated, therefore she looks more stylish than Agnetha. She is very sexy, therefore we prefer to dress her in mini skirts and things like that.”
Does husband Björn think it’s okay that men are drooling over his wife?
Björn: “I really don’t care one tiny bit. They can do what they like. Agnetha is around me most of the time, so why should I worry.”
Last question before they get in front of one or the other camera for the umpteenth time. For two couples, it can sometimes be hard to bear to spend even two weeks together when they go on a holiday. Isn’t it an enormous task to last this long under these circumstances?
Benny: “Obviously, tensions occur sometimes. That’s only natural. But first and foremost, we are friends and only then we are colleagues. That’s a big difference. All four of us know that we mustn’t give each other a hard time, or annoy each other and then nothing earth-shattering will happen. And if one of us is down or too tired or disheartened, then there are always three others to give some shelter. We have developed a nice collaboration. We can be completely honest to each other and we talk about everything. So you don’t have to worry about that aspect.”

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