Sunday 16 December 2012

Bravo, June 1980: ABBA-fuss concerning Agnetha: new love, eight month break

In the ABBA studio in Stockholm, the lights are still on late in the night. In front of the door, there's a BMW 623 - proof that Benny is still in the studio, working on new songs. Since the early afternoon, he has been sitting behind the mixing console, together with Michael Tretow, the group's sound engineer. Over and over again, he is rewinding the audio tape, to listen to the melody again.
"We are actually long overdue with the new single," Benny explains. "We've already recorded five songs. But we simply can't decide which one of them should be released. But no worries, in the beginning of July our new record will be out in the shops."
That's why Benny has worked during the nights too the past few days. He is simply a perfectionist. Only when he is completely satisfied, the track will be shared for general approval. "We decide together which song will be released. Our manager Stig Anderson will give his opinion as well," Benny explains.

As soon as the new single is out in the shops, ABBA's holiday starts. Björn will definitely stay in the proximity of Stockholm. Together with his girlfriend Lena, he will go to the deserted small island in the Baltic Sea that ABBA has bought a couple of years ago. Anni-Frid and Benny will go on their holiday together. "But I don't know yet where we will go. I always leave that to Anni-Frid," Benny says. "She always finds the most beautiful travel destinations. Perhaps we will stay in Sweden too or we will fly to the Bahamas again, just like the past few years. Agnetha hasn't made any big travelling plans. In the autumn, her daughter Linda is going to start school. That's why she has insisted on spending time with her the last weeks leading up to the start of this new stage of life."

Because of Agnetha, ABBA will not go on tour the coming eight months. "Agnetha absolutely wants to take care of Linda during the first few months of her schooldays and not leave everything to the nanny," Benny says. However, this compulsory break isn't completely inconvenient to him either. In the middle of August, he wants to get together with Björn again to finally start working on a musical.
"That's an old dream of ours. But we need time and quietness for that. We can't complete a task like that in between two tours," he says. But one thing is for sure: it should have its premiere in the spring of 1981, probably in London. But ABBA themselves will not perform in the musical. "But either way, we will be present at the premiere. After all, a musical is something like your own child, much more substantial than an album."
Benny and Björn will start working on a new album in August. "This time we actually want to be finished around October, so we won't have to let the fans wait as long as with the last album. We already have a couple of songs ready. If we still like them after our summer holiday, they will be on the album. It's crucial too which new ideas we are going to have in the next two months."
Then Benny becomes very serious. He is thinking about the rumours surrounding ABBA, especially the gossip about the divorce. During the Japan tour in March they popped up again. This was due to Agnetha, who mostly isolated herself from the others, went her own way and often looked sad and lonely. Time and time again, there are speculations that Agnetha wants to leave the group and that ABBA will probably never tour again because of her. She still doesn't seem to have overcome her divorce from Björn.

"But that's not true," says Björn. "Agnetha never liked to go on tour and - more like the other three - she suffers from all the travelling. In the old days, there have already been nights that she doubted herself and believed that she wasn't good enough on stage anymore. Often she even burst into tears and at times she even wanted to throw in the towel. At moments like that it's extremely important that we all pull together. Then we should all help each other and it's evident how great it can be to be part of a group. I also know that Agnetha sometimes longs to wake up one morning and be a normal housewife. With everything that comes with it - making dinner, doing the laundry and playing with the kids. All of us will help her get through this small crisis. That's why we have cancelled all official commitments and we hardly show ourselves in public. This way, Agnetha will be able to recover from the stressful period and find herself again. Then she will be eager one day to be on stage with us again."

The cause of Agnetha's crisis is not just the divorce from Björn. The break-up of her relationship with Swedish  ice hockey star Lars Eriksson was a factor as well. "He simply didn't want to be in the limelight all the time because of Agnetha, and be hunted by reporters and photographers," Benny thinks. "This can be very nerving for a human being who isn't used to that. Now Agnetha has found a new boyfriend, and she is happy with him. But Agnetha keeps him away from publicity as much as possible. Agnetha simply wants to avoid that her new love gets cracked again."
Agnetha's new boyfriend is 34 years old and he is a fashion designer. His name: Dick Håkansson. "He has been advising us for a long time already on choosing our wardrobe for performances and photo sessions," says Benny. "That's how Agnetha and Dick got acquainted. But the sparks didn't fly between them until the spring this year. Agnetha wants to spend her next holiday with Dick as well."

Saturday 15 December 2012

Das Freizeit-Magazin, 1977: ABBA is taking a baby break

Since four months, ABBA has retained a mysterious radio silence: after 'Knowing Me, Knowing You', there has been no new hit single by the four Swedes, they didn't do any television shows and no performances. Now, ABBA has made their secret public. "I'm going to have a baby," revealed blonde Agnetha (27) in an exclusive interview with the Freizeit-Magazin. "That's why we are taking a break, that is going to last until November. With my little daughter Linda, the pregnancy was already very difficult. That's why I have to take it easy the coming months."
The baby break is coming exactly at the peak of ABBA's career. Was it a planned child? "We really didn't plan it," Agnetha admits. "Though Björn and I have always wanted a second child, but not so soon. For health reasons, I'm not taking the pill, and that's why it can always happen. I was a little afraid to tell Björn about it. After all we didn't reckon with a baby in our extremely busy schedule. But Björn was overwhelmed with joy from the first moment on and he is really looking forward to our second child. The way that Anni-Frid and Benny are looking after me is touching as well. I believe all four of us are glad to have some peace and quiet for a while."
In the coming four months Agnetha - who has become a little fuller in her face already - still has to be in front of a camera. "In Stockholm, we are shooting the last few scenes for our movie that should be released in the cinemas in December, simultaneously with our new album and single," says Agnetha. "It's going to be a crazy, hilarious movie in which we will be seen during concerts as well as in our private lives."
When will Agnetha's baby be born? "I must have become pregnant somewhere in March and the doctors have calculated that the baby will be born between 10 and 20 November," Agnetha reveals. "Anyhow, Björn and I really hope it's going to be a boy. Then Linda will finally get her long-awaited little brother."