Thursday, 29 July 2010

Pop Biz, 1979: Will ABBA be able to take the crown from the Bee Gees? – The Vikings set their sights on America

Hustle and bustle in the pop business. On the highest possible level, the competition is on between the two most successful groups in the world: ABBA and the Bee Gees. A competition that – for the largest part – is going on between their respective managers: Stig and Stigwood, two shrewd managers that – apart from their names – have more similarities. The outcome of this competition largely depends on their inventiveness...

Since the days of the Beatles and the Stones, it hasn’t happened that two non-American groups are fighting for world domination. This time, the competition is between ABBA from Sweden and the Bee Gees from Australia, although the brothers Gibb were actually born in Great Britain.

To be accepted as the number one group in the world, you’ll have to get America at your feet, no matter what. Because – although you may sell millions and millions of records in Europe, Africa, Japan and Australia – if you are unable to conquer America, you just can’t rule as the masters of pop. ABBA realizes this all too well. And that’s why their manager Stig Anderson sat down in his headquarter in Stockholm like a chess grandmaster to brood on an ingenious move that would leave the Bee Gees checkmate. Because the immensely rich Swede is terribly bothered by the fact that the Bee Gees actually did conquer America, while his protégées are still coming a day after the fair.
Meanwhile, the Bee Gees’ manager Stigwood is laughing in his sleeve. Two years ago, when ABBA’s emergence seemed unstoppable, his group took the wind out of the Swedes’ sails with the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, up till now the best selling album ever. And it was the Bee Gees, and not ABBA, who spearheaded the upcoming disco craze with new musical inventions. And this at a time when Stig Anderson had made elaborate plans to finally unleash his quartet on the American market.

But Stig is brooding on revenge. And after the flop of the Sgt. Pepper movie – another idea of Robert Stigwood – the clever Swede understood that things were going his way. He advised Björn and Benny to adapt their musical style to the disco trend. However, without losing the specific ABBA sound.
In the meantime, he made sure that ABBA performed on the Unicef Gala – watched by millions of Americans – so that there wasn’t any increase in arrears. For a while, it seemed that there would be a crisis in the ABBA team when Agnetha announced that she and Björn had divorced. But this crisis didn’t have any severe consequences. To make sure that they wouldn’t lose any ground in the continents that they had conquered already, Stig saw to it that ABBA filmed a couple of television specials before they – after a short holiday break – will truly start conquering the Yankees with their singing skills.
And while ABBA presented their new album ‘Voulez-Vous’ to the world and appeared in front of television cameras in several countries, Stig was working on his master plan. It’s going to be a matter of all or nothing, because if the plan fails, the four sympathetic Swedes will not get a second chance very easily over there. And then the Bee Gees will remain the number one group in the world...

1 comment:

M Lucia said...

ABBA wouldn't be able to take off the crown that the Bee Gees sported in the late 70's!