Thursday, 18 November 2010

Joepie, 1979: ABBA on the Red Square in Moskow

“Nonsense, complete nonsense.” That’s ABBA manager Stikkan Anderson’s clear answer to the ongoing rumours that the popular group is on the verge of breaking up. “Shitsnack,” he curses in Swedish, “we will continue until it isn’t any fun anymore and we don’t make any profit anymore. No sooner than that.” And according to Stikkan Anderson that won’t happen in the near future.

He is still having outrageous plans himself. Plans are brewing in his brain. Sitting behind his far too big desk at the Polar Music International headquarter in Stockholm, he tells about these future plans, his blue eyes constantly fixed to the ceiling.
“Shall I tell you about this dream of mine,” he muses while bending over and slowy mumbling: “ABBA on the Red Square in Moskow!”
Still, Stig’s dream isn’t that crazy, because the group has received several offers from Russia. “I think there is room for more than one million people on the Red Square. That’s wonderful, and the concert could be broadcast live via satellite.”
Stikkan is smiling contentedly. He is picturing the whole idea in his mind. And he isn’t the only one, because an American broadcasting company has already shown interest to broadcast the programme and is willing to cover for the undoubtedly high costs. It all should take place during the Olympics next year.
“So it absolutely isn’t as crazy as it seems,” Stikkan claims. He only sees one problem. Will there be enough electricity in the Russian capital? “We will have to find that out, I doubt if they will be able to deliver enough electricity for all the amplifiers and other equipment,” according to Stig.

Up till now, he hasn’t had great experiences with the Eastern bloc countries. ABBA had plans to release millions of albums on the market over there. ABBA didn’t want to get money for them, but oil. The Russians didn’t fall for that. They offered art and old coins as a compensation. But ABBA wouldn’t have any of that. It wasn’t commercial enough for them. Whether or not the concert on the Red Square will happen, will be decided in the beginning of next year. Then the group should be recovered from the extensive world tour. “We must wait and see if that tour has been too heavy on them,” Stikkan says.

After the Moskow concert, the group could perform in other Eastern bloc countries too. ABBA is getting enough offers, lately especially from South America, where the super Swedes have become very well known only recently. ‘Chiquitita’ was recorded in Spanish by Agnetha and Anni-Frid. And it paid off. Number one in the charts of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela.
“Only today,” Stig says carelessly, “I received a request from Montevideo – I didn’t even know where it was – to have ABBA perform there in a big football stadium.”
The offers are piling up. “Yes, it would be great fun to be able to perform in these countries.” Stikkan is also playing with the thought of doing a summer tour in Europe on which they will perform in the biggest stadiums in several countries: Wembley in London, the Olympic Stadium in Munich and who knows in Belgium and The Netherlands too.

These plans are very nice, but will ABBA make it until the spring? If you have to believe the rumours, they certainly won’t.
“Rubbish,” is Stikkan’s reaction to all the stories that are circulating. “ABBA can go on for years to come. All these stories, they are nonsense. I don’t know where all these rumours are coming from, but let me tell you this: they are false, completely false.”
But still, the rumours are persistent and they actually are getting stronger.
“I will give you an example of how this nonsense comes about,” he says. “This year, I was at the Eurovision Song Contest in Jerusalem. It was late and I was exhausted. Some reporter asked me a question, I think it was a Dutchman. Then I told him: ‘I’m going to quit, I’ve had it.’ And the next day, all the papers said: ‘ABBA is going to break up, Stikkan quits’. When I only meant to say that I was tired and wanted to go to bed.”

He was getting calls from all over the world, asking if it was true or not. Stikkan raises his hands to heaven in desperation. “Oh well, all these reporters, let them write what they want. You don’t understand at all when you read all this nonsense that they come up with. The annoying thing is that the people are actually believing this.” But two rumours are more persistent than the others. Rumour number one: Björn and Benny are going to leave the group and from then on they will only concentrate on writing new hits and producing new records. Rumour number two: the atmosphere within ABBA has reached rock bottom since the divorce between Björn and Agnetha.
“Complete nonsense,” Stikkan says decisively. “And I should know, because I know the atmosphere within the ABBA family like no other. After the divorce, the atmosphere is even better than it has been in the last couple of months. Really, for six months we have kept the news about the divorce a secret to give Agnetha and Björn the opportunity to deal with their emotions. But when it was finally announced, a burden was lifted from our shoulders.”
Stikkan Anderson doesn’t rule out the possibility that Björn and Benny will keep on writing together outside the group. “But it won’t happen until ABBA quits,” he says.

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