ABBA, the Swedish Super Group, will take it’s place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 15, 2010. They will be inducted by Barry and Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees.
ABBA reached international fame in the 1970’s with songs like “Dancing Queen”, “Take a chance on me”, and “Fernando”. They had #1 records in over a dozen countries including England, Australia, Costa Rica, and South Africa.
The group formed in 1972 and takes it’s name from the first letter of each member’s name – Anni-Frid Lyngstad (Frida), Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Agnetha Faltskog. Each enjoyed individual success in Sweden before ABBA. Agnetha had a solo career as a teenager with chart topping singles and albums. Benny was a member of the Hep-Stars; Bjorn a member of the Hootenanny Singers. Frida begin performing jazz music at 13 and formed her own group, the Anni-Frid Four. The couples were also married: Benny to Agnetha and Bjorn to Frida.
ABBA’s first attempt at success failed. They entered the Eurovision song contest in 1973 with a song titled “Ring Ring” but only placed third in the preliminary contest in Sweden. With the help of their manager, Stig Anderson, they returned the following year with “Waterloo” and won the 1974 contest in Brighton, England. The song soon became an international hit.
By 1977 ABBA was a world-wide phenomenon and went on tour in Europe and Australia. Concerts were sold-out well in advance, including two sold-out concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Tickets for these shows were available only by mail application and over 3.5 million requests for tickets were received, enough to fill the venue 580 times! Adoring and screaming fans (chanting “We want ABBA!”) greeted their arrival in each city, rivaling Beatlemania from a decade earlier. A movie/documentary was filmed of the Australia leg of the tour called “Abba, the Movie“.
ABBA continued to record into the 1980’s but the breakup of both marriages within the group took it’s toll. This was reflected in their music with songs like “The winner takes it all” and “When all is said and done”. The group’s last single “Under Attack” was released in 1982.
After ABBA, both Agentha and Frida continued recording and had international hits – Frida with “I know there’s something going on” and Agnetha with “The Heat is on” and “Can’t shake loose”. Benny and Bjorn continued as a writing team and wrote the score for “Chess”, which included the hit “One night in Bangkok” by Murray Head.
The music of ABBA is still very much alive today, thanks to the success of the musical “Mamma Mia” . It features the songs of ABBA and has been entertaining fans young and old for over ten years. It was made into a feature film in 2008 and starred Pierce Brosnan, Meryl Streep, and Amanda Seyfried.
As ABBA goes into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the title of one of their songs says it best: Thank you for the music!.