Sunday 27 November 2011

Hitkrant, 1979: Agnetha escapes in her work - The tour is causing tensions

Putting together a two-hour-long show, not only with old hits but with new songs as well: ABBA is facing this enormous task with the upcoming world tour just around the corner. This means months of intense rehearsals, working extremely hard and not a moment of peace. All this work comes to Agnetha as some kind of solution: work wherein she can escape from the big silence that is slowly starting to take shape around her.

'The Big Silence': it's the title of a movie by the famous Swedish director Igmar Bergman. A title that became applicable to Agnetha, also because the movie deals with a relationship problem, something that the ABBA star has had to deal with herself.

Isn't it possible for her anymore to build a steady relationship? Ice hockey international Lars-Eric Eriksson, with whom Agnetha seemed to be so happy, left her because he couldn't cope with all the publicity surrounding him, Agnetha and ABBA. The old story about fame that destroys a relationship. The rumours that ABBA is going to split up after the world tour may or may not be true, it would at least be understandable. For five years now, ABBA has been on top, since the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974. Five years of being the centre of attention: that surely isn't easy!

Agnetha seems to suffer the most from it all. She isn't as smiley anymore like she used to be and the tensions that the upcoming world tour is causing are very hard on her. During the rehearsals, one is able to notice such things. Only a couple of nights of sleep to go, to put it like that. Only a couple of days to go of intense rehearsals, with hardly any time for relaxation in between (although Björn still goes out jogging for a couple of miles whenever possible), and then the moment of truth will arrive: the tour!

And after that? Time will tell. In any case, it would be good for Agnetha if she could finally start living as a 'normal' human being, not hampered by intrusive publicity.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Joepie, 1979: A musical on Broadway!

"ABBA won't last forever," Stikkan Anderson returns to the subject of the rumours about a possible end of the group. "We are very well aware of that. But you can rest assured that there's life after ABBA."

However, Stikkan thinks it's very hard to predict what's going to happen to all the separate members. "There is the possibility that the boys will keep on composing together. Perhaps they will guide new talents a couple of months per year in California or New York. That talent could come from anywhere: America, England and who knows, even Belgium or The Netherlands."
"And the girls? Yes, Agnetha writes her own songs. She would be capable of recording a solo album of her own songs. The same goes for Anni-Frid. You shouldn't forget that they were both solo singers before they joined ABBA."

No matter what happens, Stikkan Anderson will keep playing the boss of the big ABBA empire. All those plans are only vague ideas, according to the big boss. "We will start thinking about that seriously when we quit," Stikkan claims. He prefers to occupy himself with other plans at the moment. For instance, making an ABBA musical. That should be staged in America on Broadway.
"No other European artist has managed that yet," he says. Anderson is fully confident that it will all succeed, because he says: "We have the creative ability to do it." The problem with such a musical venture is that ABBA won't be able to be on stage on Broadway every night for three years in a row. They can't leave Sweden for such a long period of time, there are also records to be made. But there's a solution to that problem. The musical has to be a flop, a gigantic failure. Then ABBA would have to perform for one night only in America. "Yes," Anderson cries out in Swedish, "that's a good idea. Then that problem would be solved. But I still think it will be a success."

Anderson wants to execute the musical plan in the eighties. But there are more plans. "We want to do things that other artists have never managed to do."
He adds modestly: "Wouldn't that be fun." With 'fun', Anderson always means 'fantastic', but because of all the previous successes, he is not as sensitive anymore for all these wonderful plans. For him it's business, and business means money.
In the early days, Stikkan used to write songs himself. Now he leaves that job to Björn and Benny. They will have to supply the material for a new ABBA album next year. This year, a double album with old hits is scheduled to be released. The album is called 'Greatest Hits 2'. A new song will be included that is expected to become a hit in the coming months. From the world tour, a one hour long television special will be made, primarily consisting of footage from the London concert. On Saturday November 3, the performance in Brussels will be filmed that will be edited into the footage from London. Stikkan hopes this special will be finished before Christmas. But it's unlikely that it will be broadcast in Belgium around that time too, because ABBA wants to sell the special themselves and that doesn't only involve money but time as well.

Stikkan is keeping very busy. The ABBA business has to go on, even during the tour. That's why he won't come along when ABBA tours through Europe. He sends his personal secretary Görel Johnsen along. Stikkan stays in his enormous mansion on the beautiful island of Djurgarden in the middle of Stockholm, easily accessible for him in his expensive Rolls Royce.
When he is back from America, he will put his attention to the performance on the Red Square. "Because in Russia we have our obligations to the fans too."

On the black market, ABBA's albums are sold for about 200 Dutch guilders. ABBA is extremely popular over there. Only recently, the Swedish embassy was stormed by fans. The door was trampled down and the phones kept ringing. Everyone was asking for tickets for the concert that was rumoured to take place next Saturday, but at the embassy there was no info about this event. The ambassador didn't know what to do and decided to send a telex to ABBA. The content: "Is it true that you will be playing here next week? And if so, then we want tickets as well here at the embassy."
But it wasn't true. Yet another rumour. Stikkan Anderson sighs: "It's incredible how all these outrageous stories see the light of day. Really, I couldn't make them up."