Sunday, 3 January 2010

Hitkrant, March 1981: Björn and Benny: ABBA’s B-side – Benny and Björn sacrifice themselves

There’s a vacuum cleaner that’s being made in Sweden. According to the Norseman that shoves the device in the face of a startled housewife in a commercial, its motor can’t be broken. Another export article from the same country takes it one step further. ABBA is being actuated by Björn and Benny and these pacemakers come with an eternal guarantee. Because although something gets broken, like a marriage, the hits keep on coming.

Seldom has there been a group that knows how to separate professional and private matters as well as ABBA. Rumour has it that even manager Stig Anderson has been unaware of the happy occasion of the marriage between Björn Ulvaeus and Lena Källersjö, a dead ringer of sorts for Björn’s ex Agnetha, until the wedding date itself. Now that Benny, after the divorce between him and Frida, is having a girlfriend as well, a tasty desert in the shape of television presenter Mona Nörklit, the speculations are all over the place: allegedly, ABBA would only exist due to their success. There wouldn’t be any mutual contact any longer.
However, as long as the motor keeps running, it’s all serene. Benny and Björn keep on writing the songs and producing the records. While Agnetha and Frida are the group’s eye-catchers on stage and get all the acclaim, the gentlemen of ABBA sacrifice themselves.
Because, when the moment comes that performances or television shows have to be done, like later on, at the group’s tenth anniversary, all eyes are set on the ladies; Benny and Björn consciously take the backseat. Obviously, things have changed. A change that already set in when Björn and Agnetha decided to separate in 1979: there isn’t much small talk after a performance any longer. After the job is done, they go their separate ways.
It’s striking that on a personal level Benny and Björn are more in the limelight than Agnetha and Frida. Björn immediately hooked a new girlfriend after he divorced Agnetha, a matter that was extensively discussed in the newspapers. Meanwhile, Agnetha ignored the gossip pages. The same went for Benny. Rumour has it that he met his Waterloo in Stockholm when he met the attractive presenter Mona. The couple fell so deeply in love with each other that Frida was put on a side track. This happened in a totally different way than Benny and Frida had predicted a couple of years ago. Then they contemplated a divorce on tax-related grounds. The ‘happiest couple in show business’ would stay together as a divorced couple. Apparently, Benny’s love for Mona has been a spoil-sport. Once again, the mind has had to surrender to love. All in all, it’s a ‘Scenes From A Marriage’ of sorts. An excellent subject for a tear-jerking television series, because really: ‘Peyton Place’ pales into insignificance. The fans should actually be raving mad about rumours like this, if it wasn’t for the fact that the group keeps on releasing such beautiful hits. But once again it shows that it’s lonely at the top, although Agnetha sang in ‘The Winner Takes It All’: ‘Though it’s hurting me, now it’s history’.

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