ABBA

ABBA

Músico / cantante

ABBA are a Swedish pop group formed in Stockholm in 1972 by Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. The group's name is an acronym of the first letters of their first names. They became one of the most commercially successful acts in the history of popular music, topping the charts worldwide from 1974 to 1982. ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest 1974 at The Dome in Brighton, UK, giving Sweden its first triumph in the contest. They are the most successful group to have taken part in the competition.

Interesting facts:
ABBA is the first group from Sweden to sell five million tickets to the Wembley arena in less than a week. They are the first super pop group to receive a $ 1 billion contract before the breakup to stage another concert tour and record another album. They are the first group to open to many musicians from Sweden, the gates of the Western music industry. Many musicians said that ABBA was their inspiration, encouragement, and the most influential group that encouraged them to start their music career. With its discography, ABBA has shown and made Sweden the most powerful music industry of the 20th century with only the United Kingdom has been able to achieve the same feat. They are the first group and the richest members to buy 85% of the Swedish industry from the gross profits from the sale of their albums.

During the band's active years, it was composed of two married couples: Faltskog and Ulvaeus, and Lyngstad and Andersson. With the increase of their popularity, their personal lives suffered which eventually resulted in the collapse of both marriages. The relationship changes were reflected in the group's music, with later compositions featuring darker and more introspective lyrics. After ABBA disbanded in January 1983, Andersson and Ulvaeus achieved success in writing music for the stage, while Lyngstad and Faltskog pursued solo careers with mixed success. ABBA's music declined in popularity until the purchase of ABBA's catalog and record company Polar by Polygram in 1989 enabled the groundwork to be laid for an international re-issue of all their original material and a new Greatest Hits (ABBA Gold) collection in September 1992, which became a worldwide bestseller. Several films, notably Muriel's Wedding (1994) and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), further revived interest in the group and spawned several tribute bands. In 1999, ABBA's music was adapted into the successful musical Mamma Mia! that toured worldwide. A film of the same name, released in 2008, became the highest-grossing film in the United Kingdom that year. A sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, was released in 2018. On 27 April 2018, it was announced that the band had recorded two new songs after 35 years of being inactive, named "I Still Have Faith in You" and "Don’t Shut Me Down". On 18 September 2018, in an interview, Andersson said that they are still working on the songs, with possibly a third one written.

Estimates of ABBA's total record sales are over 380 - 550 million, making them one of the best-selling music artists of all time. ABBA is the first group from a non-English-speaking country to achieve consistent success in the charts of English-speaking countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States. Their success has opened the door for many other European groups. Their enduring legacy marks the Swedish music industry as a mainstream player. They have a joint record of eight consecutive number-one albums in the UK. The group also enjoyed significant success in Latin America and recorded a collection of their hit songs in Spanish. ABBA was honored at the 50th-anniversary celebration of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2005 when their hit "Waterloo" was chosen as the best song in the competition's history. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. In 2015, their song "Dancing Queen" was inducted into the Recording Academy's Grammy Hall of Fame.

History – 1958–1970: Before ABBA. Member origins and collaboration:
Benny Andersson (born 16 December 1946 in Stockholm, Sweden) became (at age 18) a member of a popular Swedish pop-rock group, the Hep Stars, which performed covers, amongst other things, of international hits. The Hep Stars were known as "the Swedish Beatles". They also set up Hep House, their equivalent of Apple Corps. Andersson played the keyboard and eventually started writing original songs for his band, many of which became major hits, including "No Response" that hit number-three in 1965, "Sunny Girl", "Wedding", and "Consolation", all of which hit number-one in 1966. Andersson also had a fruitful songwriting collaboration with Lasse Berghagen, with whom he wrote his first Svensktoppen entry, "Sagan om Lilla Sofie" ("The Story of Little Sophie"), in 1968.

Bjorn Ulvaeus (born 25 April 1945 in Gothenburg, Sweden) also began his musical career at the age of 18 (as a singer and guitarist), when he fronted the Hootenanny Singers, a popular Swedish folk–skiffle group. Ulvaeus started writing English-language songs for his group and even had a brief solo career alongside. The Hootenanny Singers and The Hep Stars sometimes crossed paths while touring. In June 1966, Ulvaeus and Andersson decided to write a song together. Their first attempt was "Isn't It Easy to Say", a song later recorded by The Hep Stars. Stig Anderson was the manager of The Hootenanny Singers and founder of the Polar Music label. He saw potential in the collaboration and encouraged them to write more. The two also began playing occasionally with the other's bands on stage and record, although it was not until 1969 that the pair wrote and produced some of their first real hits together: "Ljuva sextital" ("Sweet Sixties"), recorded by Brita Borg, and the Hep Stars' 1969 hit "Speleman" ("Fiddler").

Andersson wrote and submitted the song "Hej, Clown" for Melodifestivalen 1969, the national festival to select the Swedish entry to the Eurovision Song Contest. The song tied for first place, but re-voting relegated Andersson's song to second place. On that occasion, Andersson briefly met his future spouse, singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad, who also participated in the contest. A month later, the two had become a couple. As their respective bands began to break up during 1969, Andersson and Ulvaeus teamed up and recorded their first album together in 1970, called Lycka ("Happiness"), which included original songs sung by both men. Their partners were often present in the recording studio, and sometimes added backing vocals; Faltskog even co-wrote a song with the two. Ulvaeus still occasionally recorded and performed with The Hootenanny Singers until the middle of 1974, and Andersson took part in producing their records. Agnetha Faltskog (born 5 April 1950 in Jonkoping, Sweden) sang with a local dance band headed by Bernt Enghardt who sent a demo recording of the band to Karl Gerhard Lundkvist.

The demo tape featured a song written and sung by Agnetha: "Jag var sa kar" ("I Was So in Love"). Lundkvist was so impressed with her voice that he was convinced she would be a star. After going through considerable effort to locate the singer, he arranged for Agnetha to come to Stockholm and to record two of her songs. This led to Agnetha at the age of 18 having a number-one record in Sweden with a self-composed song, which later went on to sell over 80,000 copies. The critics and songwriters soon noticed her as a talented singer/songwriter of schlager style songs. Faltskog's main inspirations in her early years were singers such as Connie Francis. Along with her compositions, she recorded covers of foreign hits and performed them on tours in Swedish folk parks. Most of her biggest hits were self-composed, which was quite unusual for a female singer in the 1960s. Agnetha released four solo LPs between 1968 and 1971. She had many successful singles in the Swedish charts.

During the filming of a Swedish TV special in May 1969, Faltskog met Ulvaeus, and they married on 6 July 1971. Faltskog and Ulvaeus eventually were involved in each other's recording sessions, and soon even Andersson and Lyngstad added backing vocals to Faltskog's third studio album, Som jag ar ("As I Am") (1970). In 1972, Faltskog starred as Mary Magdalene in the original Swedish production of Jesus Christ Superstar and attracted favorable reviews. Between 1967 and 1975, Faltskog released five studio albums.

Anni-Frid "Frida" Lyngstad (born 15 November 1945 in Bjorkasen in Ballangen, Norway) sang from the age of 13 with various dance bands and worked mainly in a jazz-oriented cabaret style. She also formed her band, the Anni-Frid Four. In the middle of 1967, she won a national talent competition with "En ledig dag" ("A Day Off") a Swedish version of the bossa nova song "A Day in Portofino", which is included in the EMI compilation Frida 1967–1972. The first prize was a recording contract with EMI Sweden and to perform live on the most popular TV shows in the country. This TV performance, amongst many others, is included in the 31/2-hour documentary Frida – The DVD. Lyngstad released several schlager style singles on EMI without much success. When Benny Andersson started to produce her recordings in 1971, she had her first number-one single, "Min egen stad" ("My Town"), written by Benny and featuring all the future ABBA members on backing vocals. Lyngstad toured and performed regularly in the folk park circuit and made appearances on radio and TV. She met Ulvaeus briefly in 1963 during a talent contest and Faltskog during a TV show in early 1968.

Lyngstad linked up with her future bandmates in 1969. On 1 March 1969, she participated in the Melodifestival, where she met Andersson for the first time. A few weeks later, they met again during a concert tour in southern Sweden and they soon became a couple. Andersson produced her single "Peter Pan" in September 1969—her first collaboration with Benny & Bjorn, as they had written the song. Andersson would then produce Lyngstad's debut studio album, Frida, which was released in March 1971. Lyngstad also played in several revues and cabaret shows in Stockholm between 1969 and 1973. After ABBA formed, she recorded another successful album in 1975, Frida ensam, which included a Swedish rendition of "Fernando", a hit on the Swedish radio charts before the English version was released.

An attempt at combining their talents occurred in April 1970 when the two couples went on holiday together to the island of Cyprus. What started as singing for fun on the beach ended up as an improvised live performance in front of the United Nations soldiers stationed on the island. Andersson and Ulvaeus were at this time recording their first album together, Lycka, which was to be released in September 1970. Faltskog and Lyngstad added backing vocals on several tracks during June, and the idea of their working together saw them launch a stage act, "Festfolket" (which translates from Swedish to mean both "Party People" and "Engaged Couples"), on 1 November 1970 in Gothenburg.

The cabaret show attracted generally negative reviews, except for the performance of the Andersson and Ulvaeus hit "Hej, gamle man" ("Hello, Old Man")–the first Bjorn and Benny recording to feature all four. They also performed solo numbers from respective albums, but the lukewarm reception convinced the foursome to shelve plans for working together for the time being, and each soon concentrated on individual projects again.
First record together "Hej, gamle man." "Hej, gamle man", a song about an old Salvation Army soldier, became the quartet's first hit. The record was credited to Bjorn & Benny and reached number five on the sales charts and number one on Svensktoppen, staying there for 15 weeks. It was during 1971 that the four artists began working together more, adding vocals to the others' recordings. Faltskog, Andersson and Ulvaeus toured together in May, while Lyngstad toured on her own. Frequent recording sessions brought the foursome closer together during the summer.

1970–1973: Forming the group:
After the 1970 release of Lycka, two more singles credited to "Bjorn & Benny" were released in Sweden, "Det kan ingen doktor hjalpa" ("No Doctor Can Help with That") and "Tank om jorden vore ung" ("Imagine If Earth Was Young"), with more prominent vocals by Faltskog and Lyngstad–and moderate chart success.
Faltskog and Ulvaeus, now married, started performing together with Andersson regularly at the Swedish folkparks in the middle of 1971. Stig Anderson, founder and owner of Polar Music, was determined to break into the mainstream international market with music by Andersson and Ulvaeus. "One day the pair of you will write a song that becomes a worldwide hit," he predicted.

Stig Anderson encouraged Ulvaeus and Andersson to write a song for Melodifestivalen, and after two rejected entries in 1971, Andersson and Ulvaeus submitted their new song "Sag det med en sang" ("Say It with a Song") for the 1972 contest, choosing newcomer Lena Anderson to perform. The song came in third place, encouraging Stig Anderson, and became a hit in Sweden. The first signs of foreign success came as a surprise, as the Andersson and Ulvaeus single "She's My Kind of Girl" was released through Epic Records in Japan in March 1972, giving the duo a Top 10 hit. Two more singles were released in Japan, "En Carousel" ("En Karusell" in Scandinavia, an earlier version of "Merry-Go-Round") and "Love Has Its Ways" (a song they wrote with Kōichi Morita).

First hit as Bjorn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid/Frida:
Ulvaeus and Andersson persevered with their songwriting and experimented with new sounds and vocal arrangements. "People Need Love" was released in June 1972, featuring guest vocals by the women, who were now given much greater prominence. Stig Anderson released it as a single, credited to Bjorn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid. The song peaked at number 17 in the Swedish combined single and album charts, enough to convince them they were on to something. The single also became the first record to chart for the quartet in the United States, where it peaked at number 114 on the Cashbox singles chart and number 117 on the Record World singles chart. Labeled as Bjorn & Benny (with Svenska Flicka), it was released there through Playboy Records. However, according to Stig Anderson, "People Need Love" could have been a much bigger American hit, but a small label like Playboy Records did not have the distribution resources to meet the demand for the single from retailers and radio programmers.

"Ring Ring."
In 1973, the band and their manager Stig Anderson decided to have another try at Melodifestivalen, this time with the song "Ring Ring". Michael B. Tretow, who experimented with a “wall of sound” production technique that became the wholly new sound, handled the studio sessions. Stig Anderson arranged an English translation of the lyrics by Neil Sedaka and Phil Cody and they thought this would be a surefire winner. However, on 10 February 1973, the song came third in Melodifestivalen; thus, it never reached the Eurovision Song Contest itself. Nevertheless, the group released their debut studio album, also called Ring Ring. The album did well and the "Ring Ring" single was a hit in many parts of Europe and also in South Africa. However, Stig Anderson felt that the true breakthrough could only come with a UK or US hit. When Agnetha Faltskog gave birth to her daughter Linda in 1973, Inger Brundin replaced her for a short period on a trip to West Germany.

Official naming:
In 1973, Stig Anderson, tired of unwieldy names, started to refer to the group privately and publicly as ABBA (a palindrome). At first, this was a play on words, as Abba is also the name of a well-known fish-canning company in Sweden, and itself an abbreviation. However, since the fish-canners were unknown outside Sweden, Anderson came to believe the name would work in international markets. A competition to find a suitable name for the group was held in a Gothenburg newspaper and it was officially announced in the summer that the group were to be known as "ABBA". The group negotiated with the canners for the rights to the name. Fred Bronson reported for Billboard that Faltskog told him in a 1988 interview "[ABBA] had to ask permission and the factory said, 'O Read more

Next events of ABBA

Next international events of ABBA

Previously celebrated events of ABBA

Suscribe

  • Axedra