Saturday, 1 May 2010

Mix, February 1979: ABBA’s Agnetha: “Why wouldn’t I be able to work with my ex-husband?”

The marriage of Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus, together half of the world famous pop quartet ABBA, seemed like a fairytale. But after eight years, their romance still came to an end. Will this mean the end of ABBA as well?

“I don’t believe that we will ever be able to let go of each other completely,” blonde Agnetha says pensively. “Björn and I have gone through too much together... and apart from that: we have children together... even though we can’t live together as parents any longer, we have to consider the interests of Christian and Linda...” A little more cheerful, she adds: “But our fans can rest assured: ABBA will go on. Our divorce won’t have any consequences for the group...”
Despite this reassuring statement, the divorce between twenty-nine-year-old Agnetha and thirty-three-year-old Björn, who make up half of ABBA, the pop quartet that conquered the world, came like a bolt from the blue for the fans of the Swedish group. Even though insiders already knew that there were tensions within ABBA.
Last year, when ABBA launched the single ‘Summer Night City’ in Paris, Mix already noticed that there were conflicts in the group. Since then, the business interests that drove the quartet apart have only become bigger. And how big those interests are, is clear for those who know that the profits of ABBA’s company are bigger than the profits of Sweden’s largest automobile factory Volvo...
ABBA’s manager Stikkan Anderson remains optimistic about the group’s future. “Of course there are internal tensions every now and then,” he admits. “Which group doesn’t have them? Don’t forget that the ABBA members have been together for years day in and day out. Because of that, futilities can be blown out of proportion. That’s quite understandable. Only those insane stories about the jealousy between Agnetha and Anni-Frid... I can really get furious about that.”
For years, those ‘arguments’ between the girls have been the façade after which ABBA hid away their true differences. And practically everybody believed in it... because the fairytale was that good... Björn and Agnetha had been an example of happiness ever since they got married in 1971. And only last year, Benny and Anni-Frid got married. Whatever could be wrong with this picture, except the jealousy between the women? Agnetha gives the answer: “It just didn’t work anymore... Björn and I can’t live together any longer. We have known that for some time but we have tried to keep it out of the publicity. Simply because it doesn’t have anything to do with ABBA. The fact that Björn and I have decided to separate has nothing to do with our job. The team will really remain intact. Why not? We still get along wonderfully in that respect. Our new album, that will be released around Easter, will be the proof of that. It’s really just a private matter, things like this happen all the time. Just look at Fleetwood Mac... the singer of that group has divorced as well, but she is still perfectly able to work with her ex-husband in the group. That’s what we want to accomplish as well... although it will be difficult at times. And all in all, it’s really our own business. The public doesn’t have anything to do with it...”

On the occasion of his divorce, Björn remembers vividly how he got to know Agnetha: “I heard a song on the radio,” he says. “It was called ‘So In Love’ and I thought the voice of the girl who sang it was wonderful... it was one Agnetha Fältskog, but that didn’t ring a bell.”
Björn fell madly in love with the voice of this unknown singer. He bought the record and played it incessantly. “It was strange actually,” he remembers. “I was in love with that voice, while I had no idea how Agnetha looked like. And what’s even more strange: the image that I had of Agnetha turned out to be exactly right. When I met her eventually, it was like I had known her for years. How was I to know that she was a fan of the Hootenanny Singers, the group that I was a member of at the time...”
Coincidentally, Björn and Agnetha met each other in 1969 on a television show. It was love at first sight. Björn remembers: “When I saw her, I could hardly breathe.” If only because Agnetha said: “I’m happy to see you in reality, because I think the Hootenanny Singers are Sweden’s best group.” The Swedish papers immediately labelled it as the pop romance of the year. And Björn still remembers their wedding day in 1971: “Agnetha was such a sweet summer bride...” That romance has ended now. Everyone wonders if this will mean the end of ABBA as well. But the four Swedes are determined to continue.

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