Saturday, 2 January 2010

Pop Foto, July 1977: ABBA’s most beautiful

An ABBA-special that was included in Dutch pop magazine Pop Foto in 1977.
There you go! For you: a fantastic ABBA-special. Full of spectacular photographs of the number one pop group. A gift from Pop Foto. Because there’s a reason for the fact that Pop Foto is the biggest pop magazine in the Benelux.

Feasting with ABBA

Yes, it had been a long time coming. A delicious collection of the most beautiful, most honest and most exclusive ABBA photographs, that Pop Foto has put together, especially for this occasion, in an ABBA photo book. And a photo present like this obviously calls for a festive chat with the superstars who are the subject of all this. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, how about a little diner with ABBA?

During this diner, Benny, Björn, Anni-Frid and Agnetha told ‘Peupfeuteu’, like your favourite magazine is persistently called by the four Swedes, a little bit more about their life in the music business that’s getting busier every day.
“Unhappy? Stressed?” Benny reacts a little surprised, when we inquire about the health of the band members, who have just completed a huge and very exhausting European and Australian tour. “Us? Man, we are still over the moon. And who wouldn’t be when you suddenly become world famous after winning the Eurovision Song Contest (already 3 years ago).”
“But that’s not the most important thing,” Björn objects, while quickly swallowing a delicacy. “The most important thing is that the audience likes the same songs as we do. Actually we are only writing to please ourselves, and what we come up with turns out to be successful as well. Apart from that, Benny and I have no limitations when we are composing, because the girls can sing anything. High, low, in between, you name it; with Agnetha and Anni-Frid, it always comes out crystal clear!”
“Except when I have a cold,” his blonde wife smiles. Anni-Frid chuckles. “Yes, then the tears come out of your nose!”
“No, let’s be serious,” Björn continues, while his delicious meal is getting cold. “There’s a big difference in composing when you have to take into account the taste of the audience, the possibilities of the singers, and so on, or when everything flows naturally.” Finally, Björn starts eating again, but after only a few bites, the conversation turns to Stig Anderson, ABBA’s manager and lyric writer. “Stig is wonderful,” Benny says, “and we were very fortunate yet again. For starters, Stig writes very good lyrics. It’s rather difficult to explain, but he knows exactly how to keep up with the ‘tone colour’ of the music. Take ‘Dancing Queen’, for example, doesn’t that sound way better than ‘Dancing Girl’ or something like that? Apart from that, Stig is the ideal manager. He has a great sense of what is going to be a hit and that’s exactly what you need when you want to stay on top.”

Every year, ABBA withdraws for a couple of months on one of the countless islands on the coast of Stockholm. “We have a little studio over there, where we can work on our music without being interrupted. You can only get there by boat, so we are completely shut off from the rest of the world. This way, we kill two birds with one stone. We are having a holiday and we are composing,” Björn explains. That island is also the scene of the most important part of ABBA’s private life; a private life that the members don’t want to talk about and we can understand that. “At least, you guys from Peupfeuteu don’t keep nagging about that,” Agnetha says seriously. “But it seems that everyone always wants to know exactly what we are doing in our spare time. I think that’s ridiculous. As a pop star, you are already the property of the audience for the most part of the year, and that obviously comes with the territory. But it’s impossible to endure when you literally aren’t allowed to keep anything to yourself.”
She sticks her turned-up nose up in the air and then declares: “All four of us know that we are taking a chance by not telling anything, because very often reporters start to make things up. To my own astonishment, I read in an English magazine that Björn and I have six children...” We all burst into laughter when we look at the face that Agnetha pulls, while she continues: “I will make one exception and tell you something about our private life. Björn and I do not have six children!”
“We are now almost literally a world group,” Anni-Frid muses while having desert. “We only haven’t had a breakthrough in Japan. But in America, everything is going really well: ‘Dancing Queen’ has been in the top twenty over there for ages!”
“Yes,” Benny continues, “but we are still not in the charts in Greenland either, but I’m not losing any sleep over that. It would be wonderful if it would happen for us in Japan and Greenland as well, but if it doesn’t, it’s okay with me too. We have already achieved much more than we ever dared to dream about and I’m as happy as a child about that.”
“Certainly, you don’t mean one of our six children, now do you?” Björn asks semi-offended.
“Peupfeuteu,” Benny says, “just ignore that silly man and finish your drink. Then we can have another one of those delicious Dutch beers!”
Right page, from top to bottom:
ABBA’s live show is an event. Nothing is left to chance. Just take a look at the costumes, for instance: at the start of the show, the girls enter the stage in wonderful shiny capes...

...but they keep on changing into different outfits. This is a scene from the ‘musical’ that the two singers perform during the show. Together, they are playing the part of the girl with the golden hair who desperately wants to become a star...

Benny and Björn are a little less prominent during a performance. They restrict themselves to the musical part, and they do it perfectly! Here, Benny demonstrates that he can play the accordion as well.

Björn in action. Björn’s voice is better than Benny’s. That’s why he is responsible for most of the solo parts.
Left page, from top to bottom:
Cheers! ABBA toasts to the success of ‘Dancing Queen’, their biggest hit so far. And if it’s up to the four of them, they are going to have a lot more of these champagne parties in the future.

A walk in the park on a Sunday afternoon? Forget about it. In their early days, the girls had to seek out clothes for photo sessions in all hastiness. Watch the hair...

Eye-catcher Agnetha!

This picture was taken last winter, when the group was preparing themselves in all peace and quiet for their monster tour of Europe and Australia.
Left page, from top to bottom:
They have been in all the big cities in the world: Paris, London, New York, you name it. “Still, Stockholm remains the cosiest city of them all. But perhaps we would have said the same thing about Amsterdam, had we been Dutch...”

Björn’s personal hobby: filming. At the Ulvaeus household, the closets are bulging out with filmed material. And obviously, in most of these films, little Linda is the centre of attention.

“There are often little spats,” Björn and Agnetha admit. “It is caused by all the tensions during tours. But we just couldn’t live without each other.”

Benny couldn’t do without his Anni-Frid either. Even though he runs into thousands of beautiful women all over the world.

Right page, from top to bottom:
Cycling used to be one of ABBA’s favourite hobbies. But as much as they would love to, they just don’t have the time for that any longer. “And apart from that,” according to Benny, “we wouldn’t be able to move an inch without being bothered.”

Agnetha and Björn very rarely let themselves be photographed in private. “Being pop stars, we are already public property for the most part. Aren’t we allowed to have just a little privacy?” is what they are saying.

“All this travelling is extremely boring and tiresome,” Benny and Anni-Frid sigh. “But the fact that we are received by friendly people with a big bunch of flowers everywhere makes up for it all.”

The house in which Björn, Agnetha and their little daughter Linda have lived for a long time.
It was a haven of peace and quiet in their hectic life.
Left page, from top to bottom:
And this is ABBA history! Agnetha and Björn’s wedding day, taking place in 1971 in Malmö. Agnetha, who was already a well-known singer in Sweden by then, and her brand-new husband were already overwhelmed by photographers.

The happy family. Agnetha, Björn and Linda would love to be together all the time. But it just isn’t possible. Who do you think Linda resembles the most? At least she has her father’s nose!

As proud as Lucifer, Agnetha and Björn are posing with their newly born little daughter Linda. As you can see, Agnetha is still a little confused by all the fuss surrounding her. And Björn just keeps bragging to his friends!

The proud father two years later. Especially for Linda, he bought himself a film camera in ABBA’s early days, and that was a huge expense. This way, Linda gets used to a life in front of the cameras at an early age...

Right page, from top to bottom:
Benny and Anni-Frid are getting engaged! When it’s up to the two love birds, this doesn’t have to be followed by a marriage. They are perfectly happy with how things are.

Fritz, Anni-Frid’s little, shaggy Schnautzer, misses his boss so bad that he often refuses to eat when Anni-Frid and Benny are on tour. But when she’s at home, he doesn’t leave her side for one second.

1970. This picture was taken on a legendary evening. On this evening, at this table, Anni-Frid and Benny fell so deeply in love with each other that they decided to start a relationship together. In the background Lars Berghagen, a Swedish singer.
Left page, from left to right:
Most of ABBA’s clothes are exlusively designed for the group. It does cost a fair amount of money, but the four Swedes are willing to spend it. “After all, you are an artist, or you are not,” is what Anni-Frid says.

This is how ABBA was dressed during their live performance on Dutch television, and this is how the entire country has been able to admire them.

But this is ABBA as well. Cool and, like the English people say, ‘sophisticated’. When ABBA started their victorious tour of England like this, the Brits surrendered to the Swedish hit assault at one blow.

Right page, from top to bottom:
Another different side of ABBA. With all those various costumes that the group is having at the moment, they could easily organise an hours-long fashion show!

But they won’t do this ever again. Right after the Eurovision Song Contest, when their big success was yet to come, the ABBAs were enticed to let themselves be photographed like this. But that’s over and done with.Agnetha
Agnetha Fältskog (Ulvaeus), the typical ‘Swedish beauty’ of ABBA, was practically born to become an artist, because her cradle was standing in the house of a well-known Swedish theatre manager and dance instructor in Jönköping. Daddy Fältskog could hardly wait until his, on 5 April 1950 born, little daughter was old enough to learn how to play music. Agnetha was already sitting at the piano at a very young age. Agnetha was barely eight years old when she started composing children’s songs about trolls and other Scandinavian fairy-tale figures.
Regularly, she came along with her dad to the television studios in Stockholm and it was only a matter of time until Agnetha was discovered. Agnetha’s first hit ‘Jag Var Så Kär’ came about very quickly. And ever since that time, Agnetha was very popular in her home country. Even today, she still releases solo albums in Sweden with self-written songs, that can be found in the album top ten for weeks. The rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar came to Sweden in 1971 and who was better suited for the part of Maria Magdalene than Agnetha? At the same time, the Swedish Hootenanny Singers, in which group a certain Björn Ulvaeus was heavily trying his best, came to the attention. A huge Swedish television show was being organised in which both Agnetha and Björn (who had briefly met each other already back in 1969) were performing. At one blow, Agnetha forgot all about her German boyfriend in Berlin and had her mind completely set on that one guy from the Hootenanny Singers. Agnetha and Björn got married that same year. And in 1973, Linda was born.

To Björn, Agnetha was the woman of his dreams. Before he met her, he was, according to manager Stig Anderson, who had known Björn for years already, a “shy, quiet but very patient guy with only one passion: music!”
Björn Kristian Ulvaeus was born on 25 April 1945 in a tiny town on the Baltic coast and he already started a band when he was still in school, where he was discovered by Stig, who subsequently brought him to Stockholm. That was the foundation of the Hootenanny Singers.
Since both Benny and Björn performed regularly in their own country, they already knew each other more or less from their meetings in television and recording studios. But they only started making music together when Björn was thinking about leaving the Hootenanny Singers and Benny had already left the Hep Stars.
They performed a lot together in bars. That’s where the idea took shape to start their own group, together with two singers. Björn already knew his Agnetha, and Benny immediately thought about his Frida... That’s how ABBA came to be. And ‘thinker’ Björn, together with Stig, was able to give all his attention to his third (let’s not overlook his family) big love: ABBA!

Anni-Frid Lyngstad was born on 15 November 1945 in the Norwegian town Narvik. When Frida was only two years old, the Lyngstad family moved to Eskilstuna, a town in the southwest of the Swedish capital Stockholm. She was ten years old when she learned how to play the guitar. Little Anni-Frid sang and danced at numerous talent competitions. At the age of fourteen, she started her own group. After she had left school, she already made a good living with that sing and dance company. Anni-Frid was only sixteen years old when she got married. A year later, her son Hans was born, and one year after that her little daughter Liselotte. But the marriage didn’t last and Anni-Frid was a divorced woman at the age of twenty. Frida didn’t sit down in despair. She moved to Stockholm to establish a career as a singer and dancer. She made her first record together with the Swedish singer Lars Berghagen. Thanks to a television performance, Anni-Frid finally had her breakthrough in 1970. All of sudden, she was extremely popular in Sweden and could regularly be seen on television as a singer, dancer and presenter.
Then she met Benny, who was still a member of the famous Hep Stars at the time. At one night, they went out to have a drink together and the sparks really started flying: Benny and Anni-Frid found themselves deeply in love. In the beginning, they saw very little of each other because Benny was always on tour. Luckily, ABBA changed all that.

Göran Bror Benny Andersson, born on 16 December 1946, comes from a very musical family as well. His father and grandfather were very well-known accordionists. When he was only six years old, Benny’s little fingers were already sliding across the keyboard of his first accordion. And the little lad was barely seven years old when his dad and granddad already dragged him along on their countless tours through Sweden.
In those days, Benny Andersson was a big promise for the future of Sweden’s folk music, until he listened to the Beatles and he changed to, what was then called, beat music. The results were overwhelming... for Sweden and for Benny. At the end of the sixties, his group Hep Stars scored one hit after the other. Especially ‘Sunny Girl’ was an enormous hit in Holland and other European countries.
The song was written by Benny. But he never tried his hands on lyric writing ever since. He’d rather leave that to Björn and Stig. After a failed marriage, the break up of the Hep Stars and the clearance of an enormous tax debt, he decided to start something new, together with his friend Björn. With the well-known result: ABBA.
“ABBA is the result of a huge amount of joint effort,” Benny says when he’s asked about his part in the success of ABBA. “And of course we owe a lot to our fans. Without them, we would have been long gone.”

1 comment:

RNT said...

Things on Abba & its members & moch more: