Sunday 22 January 2012

Bravo, 1982: Frida's tricks at flirting

Is a girl able to get a tired man excited by wearing fancy clothes? That's the theme of the new ABBA single 'Head Over Heels'. Anni-Frid gives it a try with crazy straw hats, floor-length feather boas, lacey clothes from ancient times, but with knee-length baggy trousers and frilled blouses too.
But her husband - in ABBA's new video for the single 'Head Over Heels' played by Björn - isn't impressed at all. Bored and tired, he keeps fixed to his couch when Anni-Frid once again tries to put one of her flirt ideas into practice...
This story about the unlikely couple and her best friend is what Agnetha is singing about on the new ABBA single 'Head Over Heels', the video to which has been released recently.
In reality, things aren't as hectic for the four Swedes at the moment. Anni-Frid - who borrowed the crazy outfits for the promotional video from a friend - is still in the studio working on her solo album with her producer Phil Collins.

The album - on which Björn and Benny obviously have collaborated too as composers - is expected to be released in the late summer. For that matter, Agnetha is planning to record a solo album too this year. Meanwhile Björn and Benny are completely occupied by writing new songs for the next ABBA album.
But there's even more news on the ABBA front. On the side - between the microphone and the video camera - the 'One Of Us' singers got into the Swedish construction business worth many millions. Their record company Polar Music International - that is headed by ABBA manager Stig Anderson - recently made an offer to the Swedish construction material wholesalers Ahlsell (that has a staff of 2.600 employees) to buy at least 51 percent of its block of shares. ABBA wanted to put more than 80 million German Marks on the table for these shares, that would give them ownership of half of the company. But after the ABBA offer, the Stockholm stock exchange ceased the trading of the construction material shares.
As yet, ABBA already controls three companies that are listed at the stock exchange: the recreational company Monark, the real estate company Stockholm's Badhus and the investment corporation Kuben.

Monday 16 January 2012

Popshop, 1977: ABBA is dreaming about a movie about their own turbulent love story

Despite the pile of letters that has heaped up on his desk, Stig Anderson is feeling as fit as a fiddle in his cosy arm chair. For weeks he has been on the road with ABBA, from one European city to the other, and now that he is back home he doesn't know where to start. "For the first few weeks I'm going to have to work twice as hard instead of taking it easy," he smiles, "but oh well, work pays off". Björn and Benny are present as well because there's a lot of work in store for them too...

"I never thought a tour could be so exhausting," according to Benny. "When we came home, we slept continuously for almost two days. The tour itself? All in all it was a success, certainly when it comes to public interest. The show itself wasn't one hundred percent perfect yet, but we've learned a lot during these couple of weeks and that's the most important thing. We've enjoyed it too, I don't think we will wait that long before we will go on tour again..."
At the moment, ABBA has started working on a new album. But there are other activities on their schedule as well. "We have all kinds of film plans," Björn proudly says. "We've been on the road for a couple of weeks now but still we only managed to reach a small part of our fan base. To give you an example: the demand for tickets in London was so overwhelming that we could have played in front of a sold out venue 147 nights in a row. We think it's a shame because the fans that haven't been able to get tickets are just as dear to us as the ones that have. The first movie that we are going to release is a sort of documentary about ABBA. With footage from our live show but from our private life as well. That way, everyone will have a chance to see us, albeit not live..."

"The footage has been filmed by a Swedish director who makes all our promotional films too. A real genius, believe me...," according to Benny. "When that movie is finished, we will probably start working on a musical. Björn and I will start writing the music soon and we already have someone who is working on the plot. At the moment we actually don't know which way we are heading. Maybe we will use the theme of the mini musical that we performed during our concerts: the story about a girl that is striving after fame and success but ultimately gets squeezed like a lemon. A project like that will probably take six months, but I think that we have reached the point that we can afford to release less singles. I think we have become a household name. On the silver screen we want to prove that we are more than just a commercial little pop group. And our film plans don't stop there; we would like to make a movie about the romanticized story of ABBA. A sort of autobiographical movie..."

Sunday 8 January 2012

Bravo, 1981: Björn: he almost became a teacher

After the divorce from his wife Agnetha, with whom he lived together for thirteen years, Björn Christian Ulvaeus (36) didn't remain a bachelor very long. Only one week later, he met his new life partner Lena Källersjö at a party. In the meantime the couple got married and Lena is even expecting a child. There's no doubt about it: Björn has had an easier time dealing with the divorce than Agnetha.
The ABBA guitarist was born on April 25, 1945 in Göteborg. When he was six years old, he moved with his parents to Västervik. His father had been able to get a job there at a paper factory. On his twelfth birthday, Björn got a guitar as a present; he learned his first chords from his older nephew Jon Ulfsäter.
The foundation for Björn's musical career had been laid at a very early age. Because soon after that, he started his first skiffle group together with Jon, with whom he joined another band from the city later on, the Westbay Singers. Their speciality was Swedish folk music, that they sang in English with great success.
The first big breakthrough for the Westbay Singers came in 1963, when they performed on a TV show. Someone named Stig Anderson - who had started a record company in Stockholm shortly before that - saw the broadcast and he signed the young lads right away.
First he persuaded them to take on a Swedish band name. With immediate effect, they called themselves the Hootenanny Singers.
They didn't have to wait for success very long under their new management. Already a couple of years later, Björn and his Hootenanny Singers were the most successful group in Sweden. In 1967, Björn moved to Stockholm. He wanted to study business economics and law at the university. Next to his studies, he had a job with Stig Anderson, whose record company was starting to become more and more successful.
In 1966, Björn met the second ABBA member, Benny Andersson. They became close friends very quickly and started to write their first songs together. Björn met the third member, Agnetha Fältskog, by coincidence in a television studio. Two years later, the couple was married already. When one adds on Anni-Frid Lyngstad, who performed as a solo singer prior to that, the foursome was complete. The super quartet ABBA had been born.
Björn is an ever decent and thoughtful human being. His merits are undoubtedly his efficiency, his thrift and a certain talent as an organizer.
In short: Björn is one of those young men who succeeds at everything that he sets his mind to. In the very early days he wanted to become a teacher. He often repeated this pious wish later on, especially at times when he came out of the recording studio after 14 hours of work.
The alleged ideal marriage between Agnetha and Björn came to an end in 1978. The divorce was handled without much fuss. However, there were tears. But that's hardly surprising when you have been living together for thirteen years, says Björn. Right after the divorce, Björn left their mansion and moved into a house not far way from Agnetha's. He didn't want to be too far away from the children Linda and Christian.
But Björn didn't remain alone there very long. Only a week later, he met Lena Källersjö at a party at Benny and Frida's place. Apparently it was love at first sight, because two years later the couple got married. Lena is even expecting their first child. "It doesn't matter whether it's a boy or a girl," he says. "The most important thing is that both of them remain healthy..."

Sunday 1 January 2012

Das Freizeit-Magazin, November 1977: Everyone is waiting for the ABBA baby

"This can only be a boy," Agnetha smiles amusedly while rubbing her big belly. "The way he is kicking already!" Husband Björn rather seems quite nervous next to the beaming ABBA girl. "Gradually the time is coming to pack some suitcases," he reminds his wife. The bed in the Stockholm hospital, wherein little daughter Linda already was born, has been booked for the beginning of November.

But there's still no reason to panic for Agnetha. The doctors expect the date of delivery to be in the middle of November. So there are still almost two weeks to go. Agnetha smiles happily: "I feel wonderful and I always feel very happy when the baby starts kicking in my tummy. I'm pretty sure it's going to be a sturdy boy. Then Linda will have her desperately desired little brother."
Although the mother to be is feeling great, Agnetha is still packing her suitcases because she registered herself at the Stockholm hospital this week already.
"The doctor that assisted with Linda's birth as well advised me to," Agnetha explains. "Linda's birth wasn't exactly easy. But that doesn't mean necessarily that the next delivery will be complicated too, but it's still better to not take any risks. We are looking forward to the baby with anticipation, whether it's a boy or a girl."
After Linda's birth, Agnetha was depressed for several months. "I really had a guilt complex because I left my daughter alone so often. When I came home and she didn't recognize me immediately, I had several crying fits." The blonde ABBA girl has learned her lesson: "After the delivery, I will have plenty of time for both our children."
Does that mean the end of the group? Björn denies: "The baby break hasn't harmed us either. Our fans haven't given up on us yet. And financially? We have made millions the past few years. Most of that has been collected by the government as taxes, up to 85 percent. If we would make less money, the government would be the greatest victim. But we don't worry about that. The group will go on singing. Agnetha will withdraw from a couple of other professional assignments. But the most important thing now is that both Agnetha and the baby will get through the delivery safe and sound. The Freizeit-Magazin is keeping its fingers crossed!