Saturday 16 February 2013

Hitkrant, 1979: Yvonne meets ABBA! Hitrkant fulfills dream wish

It was the last Hitkrant dream wish in a series of eight: attend the European opening concert of the ABBA tour. This meant: going to Sweden with Hitkrant, attending the concert in Göteborg and meeting ABBA afterwards. Can you imagine how many entries we received? Unfortunately there could only be one winner: Yvonne van der Meulen from Apeldoorn and judging from the enthusiastic thank you note that she wrote us later on, it was clear how much she appreciated her dream wish coming true!

Under the safe accompaniment from cousin Adri, a nervous Yvonne stepped on board of the magnificent Tor Brittania (complete with discotheque and casino!) to make a little trip to Sweden, together with Hitkrant photographer Aad Spanjaard.

After having arrived on Thursday morning, there was a whole day left to have a look around Göteborg and do some shopping. Obviously, this opportunity was made use of eagerly but the major event would be taking place the next day.
That Friday morning, we got permission to attend the soundcheck of the ABBA concert at the Scandinavium in Göteborg and that was already an unexpected surprise for Yvonne!
The surprise got even bigger when she was invited afterwards for a meet and greet with Agnetha, Björn, Frida and Benny. Yvonne wrote in her letter: "Oh my, I was so nervous! I was just shaking with nerves, but they quickly faded away."

Agnetha put her at ease right away and the two lovely dolls that Yvonne had made for Agnetha's children Linda and Christian and the knitwork for Frida had promptly broken the ice!

And then, that same evening: the concert. Yvonne just sat there listening without taking a breath and loved it. The highlight of the evening came when she was invited after the concert to tag along to a cosy fish restaurant for an intimate party. It was very crowded, the fresh shrimps were delicious and Yvonne made use of the opportunity to have the scrapbooks she had brought along signed by the ABBA members!

And although the ABBA happening was done with at this point, there were still three whole days left that were filled with excursions in the surroundings and lots of shopping. In short: for ABBA fan Yvonne (special interest: Agnetha and Björn) this was a trip to never forget!

Sunday 10 February 2013

Das Freizeit-Magazin, 1978: Stig Anderson - the grey eminence

"He is one of the best people that I know. He is incredibly intelligent. I get angry when people are unfair to him," says ABBA's Anni-Frid about Stig Anderson, the dynamic manager of Polar Records and the man behind ABBA's worldwide success.
Anni-Frid has enough reasons to be angry. There probably isn't anyone in the Swedish music business who is exposed more to offenses than Stig Anderson. Roger Wallis from the left-wing record company MVV phrased it like this: "To him, music is a consumer product, like bread or butter. Sometimes like old bread."
Stig's biggest flaw is: he says what he thinks. While others carefully contemplate their words, Stig is so honest that it hurts sometimes. It's not surprising that he has made some enemies with that kind of attitude. But even his biggest opponents must admit: Stig knows the record business like no one else. He has a gut feeling for hits. He is the typical example of a self-made man. From scratch, Stig has worked his way up to one of the most powerful men in the Swedish and international music business.
Stig Erik Leopold Anderson was born on 25 January 1931. He grew up in the Swedish town Hova. His mother worked as a hairdresser, laundrywoman and a kiosk vendor. He never knew his father.
Stig was 13 years old when he left school. But there wasn't any time to enjoy his childhood. The Anderson household was on short commons. That's why Stig worked as a help in a grocery store and apart from that he took a second job with the Hova soccer team. "I patched up the players' shoes and kept the playing field in order. My mother washed their shirts. And I ran the kiosk at the stadium. When the main team played an important match, I made 30 to 35 Swedish kronor. I had to work seven weeks at the grocery store for that kind of money."
From his savings, young Anderson bought himself a guitar and took some lessons. In the following years Stig hired himself out to different bands as an amateur musician. "I was sixteen when I wrote my first song. It was called 'Tiveds Hambo' and it became a classic in dance music." During the next years, Stig started to concentrate more and more on composing and writing lyrics. In 1951, Stig went to education school in Karlstad, he completed his military service and went back to Karlstad. His studies didn't prevent him from composing more songs and writing lyrics.

How hard Stig worked as a lyricist is proven by these statistics: in the sixties he was Sweden's most productive lyricist. He wrote almost 2.000 songs within eleven years.
Stig's big breakthrough came in 1963 when he founded the record company Polar, together with his old friend Bengt Bernhag. Right in the beginning, Stig and Bengt had their big break. A song by The Hootenanny Singers became a big hit and the same thing happened with 'Letkiss'. Stig was in business.
But it would still take a couple of years before ABBA - with the help of Stig Anderson - arrived like a comet on the international pop scene. There will probably never be a prospect of how big Stig's share was and is in this success story. Either way, he is a man who has more than one string to his bow. He is a president, manager, publisher, composer and lyricist, all in one person. He says: "I am the fortunate combination of a bon vivant and an organiser. I listen to the music with the ears of an artist. I am a lyricist, a composer and an amateur musician. Viewed in this light, I have the complete creative background."
That Stig Anderson became a force to be reckoned with not only in Sweden but internationally as well, was proven in 1974. Billboard - America's biggest trade magazine - pronounced him as 'trendsetter of the year'. He received this extraordinary honour for his creativity as a music publisher and producer, that led ABBA to a long string of hits.
On the other hand, to some people Stig became a detested symbol of the commercial music industry. Why exactly Stig was the one to take the blame was understandable. He is successful and he makes a lot of money. And above all, he doesn't mind to lead a flamboyant lifestyle with this money. With his wife Gudrun and his children Marie, Lasse and Anders he has moved to a fantastic nine-room mansion that's within a stone's throw of his office.
Stig: "It often happens that I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep. Then I want to get to the office. Now it's just a short walk to get there." Stig also owns a summer house on the ABBA island. He doesn't have a bad conscience because of that. Why would he. He knows that he had to work hard for every penny.
Stig, who often comes across as being aggressive and irrational in televised discussions, has another completely different side. Björn, Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid, who all know him better than most other people, know that very well. They have been working together with Stig for years and up till now their close and harmonious partnership hasn't been tarnished by dark clouds.

Saturday 9 February 2013

Hitkrant, 1977: ABBA's film début

Good news for the ABBA fans! Anni-Frid, Agnetha, Benny and Björn are going to play the leading parts in a feature film!

This news reached us this week through a telephone conversation with Stig Anderson, their manager. He told us that it's going to be an acted documentary with - among other things - scenes from the recent world tour, the tour that paid a visit to Amsterdam as well. The music in this film will be composed and performed by ABBA and the soundtrack will be available in the shops in the middle of October. By doing this, ABBA is completely following the Beatles' example who also made a movie like this in 1964, called 'A Hard Day's Night'.

There are also plans in the direction of a musical. The spectators at the Jaap Eden concert have already been able to get a preview of this modern day fairytale. If this music is going to be put on record too, there will be plenty of new stuff to enjoy in the near future. Long live ABBA!

Sunday 3 February 2013

Das Freizeit-Magazin, May 1978: That's how ABBA and The Rubettes became friends!

ABBA and The Rubettes have a lot of things in common: many hits, a lot of gold records and millions of fans. Especially in Germany. Still, they had never met each other personally. In France, both European top groups met each other for the first time.

It's funny: here we have two groups, who are with the same record company, who have both sold millions of hits already, who have the biggest fanbase here in Germany and who still hadn't met each other yet. Until now! We are talking about The Rubettes and ABBA. The superstars from England and Sweden met each other for the first time a couple of weeks ago. At the French Riviera in Cannes. Where The Rubettes were distinguished for their successes by the French station Europe 1 and where ABBA was promoting their feature film 'ABBA - The Movie' at the same time. And since they were all staying at the same hotel, it didn't take long for them to run into each other. Rubettes singer Alan Williams was flabbergasted: "When I found myself facing Anni-Frid for the first time, I was getting heart palpitations." But since Benny was there as well, the otherwise so outspoken Englishman had to make do with some polite conversation. Joker John Richardson was very sad that Agnetha hadn't come along. She had to stay at home to take care of baby Christian. "Too bad, I think she is so sweet," he sighed with a whimsical look. But then they quickly started to talk shop. And Mick even fetched the audio tapes from the brand new Rubettes album 'Some Time In Old Church' from his hotel room to play them to the Swedes. And he beamed like a honey cake when Björn made a copy of the soft Rubettes ballads to listen to them again back in Sweden in all peace and quiet. "Perhaps you could write something for us at some point," John said full of hope, "after all the name ABBA means a guaranteed hit. And that's exactly what we need at the moment!"