Sunday, 15 May 2011

Bravo, 1978: ABBA and Andy

Björn, with his guitar under his arm, is walking back and forth nervously. Anni-Frid, dressed in white, is checking herself in the mirror while her make-up is being touched up. Benny is grinning amused while the stressed costume designer Fleur Thiemeyer is sowing the belt of his jacket. Olivia Newton-John is running around with curlers in her hair while Agnetha is handing over a large bouquet of roses on ABBA’s behalf.
The preparations of the Olivia Newton-John special for American television are in their final stages. The spectators have been waiting in line for five hours in front of the Columbia studio in Hollywood, to be admitted for the live broadcast. The past nine days, Olivia has been rehearsing nonstop with her guest stars ABBA and Andy Gibb. All of them have been standing in front of the TV cameras from early in the morning until late in the evening. The extra hours were necessary, because Steve Binder – the producer and director – is a perfectionist. And that was fine with ABBA because they hope to achieve a final breakthrough in America with their guest appearance on Olivia’s show (about 50 million Americans saw the show). America is the only country where the four Swedes aren’t that well-known yet.
Then they finally get started! The invited audience is applauding. ABBA and Olivia are in the spotlights. Andy Gibb, dressed in red with a white waistcoat, is running behind them and sighs: “Oh, I’m so nervous...” And then they all sing Cat Stevens’ song ‘Old Schoolyard’ together. They all do their best and Andy’s stagefright is fading rapidly. Then ABBA performs ‘Mamma Mia’, ‘Fernando’ and ‘Dancing Queen’. Andy and Olivia are singing along. Andy performs his hit single ‘I Just Wanne Be Your Everything’ and ABBA and Olivia are joining him as backing singers. Obviously the guests also join in on Olivia’s hits.
In the next scene of the show, they all sit cosily in a circle and chat about the start of their careers. Benny performs the old Beach Boys track ‘Barbara Ann’, Anni-Frid manifests herself as an opera singer. Andy is being teased by the others: “Don’t you have very famous brothers? Aren’t they promoting a record right now?” They are aiming at the ‘Saturday Night Fever’ album, the sales figures of which are unbeatable. Then it continues with the ABBA hits ‘Money, Money’ and ‘Take A Chance’. As a farewell they all sing ‘Thank You For The Music’ together.
The spotlights had barely died down when ABBA hurried into the recording studio. The four of them were slaving away there until six o’clock in the morning. On the same day, they are flying back to Europe, to perform in Germany in the TV programme Star Parade. Due to these commitments, they had to cancel a party at the Swedish embassy with president Carter.
With their three songs ‘Take A Chance’, ‘Eagle’ and ‘Thank You For The Music’, ABBA wowed all the viewers of Star Parade.


Monica said...

Thanks Michel for the translation it was a very informative article. I enjoyed seeing the special when it aired. I only wish ABBA had more support here in the States during their heydays.

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