Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Das Freizeit-Magazin, March 1978: ABBA, a place of honour for Das Freizeit-Magazin / ABBA by ABBA

The 13-year-old Andrea John from Mannheim was extremely lucky: she got the opportunity to hand over the bronze Freizeit-Magazin to her favourite group ABBA personally. To do just that, Andrea flew to Bremen, where the four Swedes were paying a quick visit on the occasion of the premiere of the ABBA movie. In the afternoon, the FM reader was greeted by Anni-Frid, Agnetha, Björn and Benny at the hotel, with an accent free ‘Guten Morgen’. And in the meantime, Björn speaks German so well that he could really have a conversation with Andrea. “We are extremely happy about the bronze Freizeit-Magazin,” Björn confessed honestly, when he saw the heavy bronze placard with ABBA’s portrait, “we know from the many letters we get that our most loyal fans are among the Magazin readers.” And Agnetha was beaming: “This is by far the most original award that we have ever received. It will get a place of honour at our home!”
The festive ceremony was celebrated with champagne and Andrea John got along with Benny and Björn so well that both ABBA girls almost got a little jealous. For that matter, she got a ‘stereo kiss’ from the ABBA boys as a little thank you. Before they said goodbye, Agnetha revealed ABBA’s secret future plans: “We are already working on a new album and on a musical, that should have its premiere on Broadway. We probably won’t go on tour again until next year.”
Das Freizeit-Magazin has a special surprise for Andrea and the many, many fans of the Swedish supergroup. From this magazine on, we will publish the authentic life story of the foursome. Told by ABBA themselves. Just turn the page. It will kick off on the next page.

This is the fantastic story of ABBA. A sensation. For the first time, Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid have told the real story. An unbelievable story. A fairytale of the twentieth century: how a singer from Jönköping, a folk singer from Västervik, a pop idol from Stockholm and a jazz singer from Eskilstuna met each other and started one of the most successful groups that the world has ever seen.
A group that has sold more records than any other artist. A group that reached number one in England, Europe’s number one country where pop music is concerned, five times in one year – with three singles and two albums. A group that attracted more viewers in Australia with their television shows than the historic moon landing by the Americans. ABBA has told everything to the journalist Christer Borg. Their hopes and wishes, tears and disappointments. Their big successes. Their most beautiful and most difficult moments. And how it all started. With ABBA. On that warm summer evening in the year 1966 when Björn and Benny met each other at a party. And composed their first song. In a windmill in Västervik. ABBA by ABBA. From this day on. Only in Freizeit-Magazin!

Every story has a beginning. The ABBA story started in the summer of 1966. The venue: a party in Västervik, Sweden. The ones involved: a lot of young people, among them two upcoming musicians named Björn and Benny. Both of them weren’t around to experience the end of the party. They had already left the party long before that. In the middle of the night they drove to the paper mill in Västervik, where Björn’s father worked, they dragged an organ, a guitar and an amplifier into the office and started composing.
In the morning, one more song was born into the world: ‘Isn’t It Easy To Say’. Their first collaboration. The song didn’t become a worldwide hit. At the time, Björn was still a member of the Hootenanny Singers. But he was already fed up with their sentimental style. When Benny asked him if he would be willing to replace guitarist Janne Frisk with the Hep Stars, Björn didn’t need to think twice.
The tour brought Björn and Benny even closer together. Even the break up of the Hep Stars didn’t change that. And then the two close friends suddenly became four: Björn met Agnetha Fältskog and Benny fell madly in love with Anni-Frid Lyngstad. On November 1, 1970, the four of them performed in a show in Göteborg. ABBA’s first performance. However, a musical breakthrough wasn’t in the cards yet.
Instead, Benny and Björn started concentrating on composing. One of their first joint songs ‘Language Of Love’ made it to number six at a music contest in Malaga. Björn: “From that moment on, it became serious.” Björn, who was still studying at Stockholm university, quit his studies. “I finally knew exactly what I really wanted to become.”
The first real ABBA hit became ‘She’s My Kind Of Girl’ in 1972. In Europe however, the sales figures weren’t very impressive. Instead, more than half a million copies of the record were sold in Japan.
‘People Need Love’ became their next success. In America, it even entered the top 100. And for the first time, the record cover was labelled: Björn, Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid. However, at this time the Swedes were far more interested in a major breakthrough in Sweden and Europe than in sales successes in the Far East or the USA. The date had already been set: February 10, 1973. On this day, the Swedish heats for the Eurovision Song Contest were taking place. Among the contestants were Björn, Benny, Anni-Frid and Agnetha as well. They finally wanted to make it big with ‘Ring Ring’. Their performance only had one hindrance. Agnetha was expecting her first baby. The doctor had estimated the child to be born on February 2. It was a question for Agnetha: a maternity hospital or a pop contest?

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