Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Bravo, September 1982: Frida is having a bit on the side!

There is a red alert at the small airport in Hof in Oberfranken: Anni-Frid from the Swedish pop group is announced to arrive by private jet from Frankfurt.
The reason for this flying visit? Frida - like she is called solo - will introduce her solo single 'I Know There's Something Going On' and another track from her same-named, recently released album for the first time live on September 9 in the ZDF show Show Express. Immediately after the broadcast, Anni-Frid and her entourage will board the plane again that will take them back to Frankfurt.
Whoever is looking out for the other ABBAs during Anni-Frid's visit to Germany, will be disappointed. Björn, Agnetha and Benny stayed in Sweden.
Did Frida set the ball rolling with her solo project, that will deal the - by many long-awaited - mortal blow to ABBA?
"Nonsense," she claimed. "After the release of the latest ABBA album 'The Visitors', I simply had some spare time, and I made use of that time to record a solo album."
Fact is that she called Genesis drummer and singer Phil Collins in the beginning of this year to ask him for his help. She had listened to his solo album 'Face Value' and decided: 'this is the man I'm looking for'. Phil Collins thought it was a challenge to get the soft ABBA singer to sing somewhat beefier musical material and he accepted.
But it wasn't enough for the Genesis wizard to be just the producer. He also acted as a drummer, he wrote songs and he sang 'Here We'll Stay' together with Frida as a duet. Apart from that, he also engaged well-known songwriters like Rainbow hit maker Russ Ballard and he secured a track by Bryan Ferry as well.
Anni-Frid consciously passed on Benny and Björn's established songwriting. "My album shouldn't be an ABBA copy," she said and she even recorded parts of the album at the Air Studios in London, to avoid any ABBA involvement.
The team Frida/Phil actually succeeded in getting away from the ABBA sound. Listening to the single 'I Know There's Something Going On', only the singing voice vaguely reminds one of ABBA. One would rather associate the strong rocky sound with something between Genesis and Joan Jett.
And this isn't the end of Frida's side leap. She filmed videos for the single and a second track from her solo album 'I See Red' and there's even talk about a guest appearance at the next Genesis concert.
Meanwhile, the other ABBA members are not exactly inactive. Agnetha is being seduced by a marriage impostor - but only in front of the camera. In Stockholm, she is filming her first feature film about the Swedish women cheater Gustav Raskenstam.
Privately, things aren't that adventurous for her, although her boyfriend - policeman Torbjörn Brander - has moved out of her house again. He couldn't deal with all the fuss surrounding Agnetha and him. To make sure she wasn't left completely unprotected, Agnetha brought in a young Leonberger dog into her mansion in Lidingö.
Björn and Benny are working on a new ABBA album. Five tracks - among them 'Just Like That' and 'I Am The City' are completed. But still the record won't be released until early '83. Before that, a new single release is planned and a double album containing 23 ABBA singles and two new songs.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Bravo, 1983: A miracle! Agnetha managed to get out of this bus alive!

It happened on October 2 at 7:35 PM on a rainy street in Urkelljunga between Helsingborg and Stockholm. Agnetha was on her way home from her promotional tour through Europe. With her in the luxurious touringcar were her tour manager and advisor Hans Blomgren, her friend, the journalist Britta Akesson and two drivers who took turns driving the vehicle during the long journey through Europe.
Agnetha had just got up from her seat at the right side of the bus to stretch her legs in the sleeping department in the back of the touringcar.
All of a sudden a red light popped up in the dark on the roadside. The driver didn't know that the Urkelljunga road construction authorities had put up temporary traffic lights in this track section due to road works.
He hit te brakes for all he was worth. The back wheels came into a slide in an oil spill. The touringcar tossed around wildly and hit the crash barrier with its left wheels. This caused such an instant standstill that the heavy vehicle turned over on its right side.
The impact took place with such force that the touringcar was deformed completely. The windows were ruptured with a deafening rattle.
Agnetha, who was just on her way to the backside of the touringcar, and her companions were catapulted to the floor, the complete inventory was hurled through the interior and partly landed on the street.
The bus accident triggered a major alarm at the police office in Malmö. Six ambulances hurried to the crash scene with emergency lights and howling sirens. In the dark and on the wet asphalt an eerie scene unfolded; first aid people came rushing in from all directions. They feared the worst. They rescued the five passengers through the broken front window. They were rushed to the Ängelholm Hospital immediately where they were examined thoroughly and had to stay until the next morning.
Agnetha's friend Britta had broken her right leg. Although no bone fractures were established with Agnetha, she did find herself with a mild concussion and a ricked neck. To calm down the cervical vertebra she got a broad neck brace. Apart from that, all five of them had slash wounds and abrasive burns.
Even when Agnetha and the others were still in the hospital, the rumours started spreading. It was claimed that Agnetha was expecting a baby - which would have been the reason for the surprising engagement with her former bodyguard Torbjörn Brander - that she lost due to the accident. This was denied with emphasis by Agnetha: "The pregnancy rumour came about because I was seen shopping in a children's store in London. But there were no baby clothes in these packages, only things for my children Linda (10) and Christian (5)."
Actually it was planned that Agnetha would be transported from the hospital to her house in Lidingö near Stockholm by a private plane on the day after the accident. But she opposed to this plan vigorously: although she was shaken up by the bus accident she did not want to get on a plane.
In great haste, a Chevrolet was rented and Agnetha and her advisor Hans Blomgren were smuggled out of the hospital through the back door. At 8:00 PM she reached her house in Jupitervägen in Lidingö. Several guardsmen were posted outside so that Agnetha could recover from the shock in peace and quiet.
When it comes to travelling, the ABBA singer is really pursued by bad luck. She has a panic fear of flying ever since she found herself in a heavy tornado with a small private plane on the flight from New York to Boston during the ABBA tour in the US.
On the ground, the tornado had caused a number of deaths and casualties. Up in the clouds the ABBA plane was shaken up in such a way that Agnetha had a nervous breakdown on board and woke up the next day at the hotel with a 40 degree temperature.
Even on the day before the bus accident in Urkelljunga, Agnetha had a small accident: during a performance in London she fell down from the stage and bruised her elbow.
At the moment, Agnetha can only be comforted by her fiancee Torbjörn by telephone. Until November he is stationed as a policeman with the Swedish UN troops in Larnaca on Cyprus. That's why he calls his Agnetha every day on the telephone, the same telephone that he used two months ago for a three-hour conversation with her in New York, when they decided to get engaged...

Thursday, 8 December 2011

De Telegraaf, December 1977: ABBA, The Movie

A perfect stereo system is pouring out the music from the ABBA album - to be released in February '78 - over the champagne-nipping visitors that fill Stockholm's Look Theatre to half of its capacity. For that matter, it is safe to assume that this is the last time that 'ABBA-The Movie' is screened in front of so few people. The presidents of the record companies that release the group's records in several countries in the world can witness with their own eyes that they aren't the only ones that have followed the strict orders 'not to bring along any outsiders since this is an informal occasion'.
Although they are sitting in the same row, they are seated about fifteen metres apart. All of a sudden, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson look at each other in dismay and subsequently they quietly disappear through the nearest side door. A little while later they show up behind me to - after a whispered conversation with the guy behind the mixing console - change something about the sound equalisation that makes no audible difference to normal people. A minute later they carelessly walk back into the cinema, both on a different side of the room, a glass in their hand as if they just had to leave their seats for some other reason.
"What has changed?" I ask the sound technician. "There's a little less bass now," he explains stoically as soon as he has lost the attitude 'I don't know what you're talking about'. It turns out that Ulvaeus and Andersson have made a new mix that morning especially for the informal screening at the Look Theatre. For the launch of the new album, the creative half of ABBA is using a 32-track tape instead of the so called 'master'! It's typical for the perfection that ABBA is striving for.

"I'm very sorry," says Stig Anderson, the lovable looking but rumoured to be stone-hard manager of ABBA. "An interview just isn't possible." We are standing in the lobby of the Look Theatre after he has guided me past the Cerberus at the entrance with the most endearing smile on his wrinkled newspaper face, after having read the letter word for word that should give him the impression that my visit is far more important than that of the entire Dutch cinema audience. I point him to the word 'meeting' that refers to a promise that a staff member from Polar - in other words ABBA Inc. - has made me by telephone a couple of days earlier.
"Oh," Anderson says unconcerned. "A meeting, that's a different matter. I'd be glad to arrange for you to get a handshake from the three present group members, but I assume you didn't come to Stockholm for that." I can confirm that wholeheartedly. "The only problem is that I have a strict agreement with the group that they absolutely won't talk to the press," says Anderson. "The Swedish press isn't even here! The press will be able to see the movie in two weeks time and then you are welcome."
Still very friendly but sadly very determined as well, he turns around to disappear in the party noise. In the last minute, I manage to grab him by the elbow behind which he is keeping so many secrets according to the major part of the Swedish press. "I will make a deal with you," he says at last. "You won't have to wait until the press screening. I will let you watch the movie at an earlier date. Call me tomorrow after ten. At the office. Then we can work something out." And he is gone.

"Well, then you are not in luck," says the Polar staff member that promised me that 'meeting' a few days ago, the reason why I am here right now. "Whatever Stig wants, happens. I can't do anything about that. Maybe you could talk a little during dinner." What dinner? "Afterwards," says the Polar employee. "After the movie."
Stig is busy welcoming a late comer when I approach him again. I prepare myself for a verbal trench war but his attitude still lies somewhere between 'who are you again' and 'I can't be too bothered by all this'. I say that I talked to my Polar connection who told me something about a dinner.
"Oh, that!" says Anderson. "You are very welcome. We don't have any interviews to give today, but we can offer you an aquavit and a steak. Afterwards, two buses will be at the entrance. You get on the one that is parked most incorrectly. That's the one that leaves first."
I walk into the cinema with a glass of champagne. The movie starts. 'ABBA-The Movie'.

You could hardly expect anything else from a top group that holds perfection high in its family banner. But still, afterwards even the biggest sceptic is astounded by the quality of the ABBA movie. 'ABBA-The Movie' exudes class from start to finish, pared with a solid self-knowledge and an even bigger knowledge of the audience for which the movie is made. It is top drawer family amusement and 'ABBA-The Movie' won't be kept in that drawer very long.
The movie has everything that a good music movie should have: humour, a glance behind the scenes of the rock business, insight into the motives of the separate members and most of all outstanding music. And I don't mean that only in the artistic sense - because ABBA's music won't appeal to everyone, like it does to me - but in a technical sense as well.
The sound of 'ABBA-The Movie' is the best that has ever been heard in such a music movie and the recording of the sound and visuals from the concert tops everything that has been done in this area, including Elvis' 'That's The Way It Is' and 'Mad Dogs & Englishmen'.
'ABBA-The Movie' mainly revolves around a concert that the band gave last year in Sydney during a tour that encompassed all major Australian cities. 25.000 people had been waiting in the pouring rain all day long for ABBA and their need for entertainment was so big (and the group's form so glorious) that the concert could turn into a truly unique event.
All the big hits - including a future hit like 'Eagle' that most probably will be the next single - are in there and all of them performed wonderfully. The musical 'The Girl With The Golden Hair' and the encore of all the live shows 'Sing The Song Together' that is usually sung together with their twelve-piece band, are performed too.
The footage of the ABBA concert and all things surrounding it (a press conference, the travelling, hanging around in hotel rooms, the stage fright, the past of the separate members, the taking shape of their songs in the cottage on the group's island at the Stockholm coast) are linked together by a tiny storyline about an Australian DJ who gets the assignment from his bosses to make a radio special during ABBA's tour, wherein not only their hits are being played but that should also focus on the people behind the stars.
The DJ - who never seems to have heard of ABBA as a matter of speaking because he is only into country music - is chasing the group all over Australia, but he never gets any further than the bodyguard who is hired especially for this tour - a professional sent by the trade union - or Stig Anderson who plays an extraordinary convincing part in 'ABBA-The Movie' as ABBA's manager, something that I can confirm from my own experience.
Seated in the back row of the Look Theatre, I pray that the same fate awaits me as the DJ in the movie, because just when he wants to inform his boss about the failed mission he simply runs into the group in the hotel's elevator and he is able to do his interview in all peace and quiet. Even better than he dreamed shortly before on the silver screen wherein he is having a drink with the ABBA boys in a saloon while he is supported at the poker table by Agnetha and Frida on both his arms.

Dreams don't come true, that goes for the Australian DJ but for me as well. The intimate dinner turns out to be a party for 150 people and I'm lucky to find a seat near the former Polydor child prodigy - and these days International boss - Freddy Haayen, but I'm annoyingly far from the place where it all happens.
The aquavit comes with the steak and the wine comes with the coffee, but in any case there is enough to toast to with Stig Anderson who - to everybody's amusement and later on even emotion - sings a Swedish drinking song, by which all the people present have to reply to him vocally and a Norwegian gentleman who informs us that ABBA doesn't leave the people in his country unaffected either and hands them an ugly as hell award, designed especially for this occasion. The silver schooner. Or trawler, I'm not sure about that.

"Thanks for coming," says Stig Anderson in a friendly manner, as a way of saying goodbye. "Better luck next time. Call me tomorrow after ten." "Then we can work something out," I reply before he is able to continue. He laughs cordially and says: "No hard feelings." On my way to the bus I see a couple of people withdraw quietly in a small room and while Anderson escorts his guests into the bus as some kind of travel agent, I decide to wait a little longer.
I talk to the waiter and the cloakroom attendant ("Oh yes, they are taking care of us really well, that's how things work at Polar") and then I decide to take a look in the small bar. Anderson is standing right at the bar with a clear view on the entrance. For the fourth time I shake his hand. "Have a drink," he says. Is it my imagination or do I detect an amused admiration.

The company appears to have been reduced to about fifteen people. Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and his Frida are mingling in the crowd as if this party is strictly business. They are buttered up by guests of all kinds of nationalities who claim with their heavy accents that 'ABBA-The Movie' is the best thing they have ever seen in their life, while it turns out after a little investigation that 'ABBA-The Movie' is the first movie they have seen since 'Gone With The Wind'.
The party ends at exactly two o'clock. I decide to do a tactic master stroke and ask director Lasse Hallström for an interview. His first reaction is perplexed and then honoured because he has only managed to join into the party with his ten second speech ("ABBA has been a good producer because they didn't interfere with anything. Thank you!") and from all those present no one even had a spoon of syrup left.
"We have to go," Hallström says with a helpless look on his face. "But if you want to come along for a nightcap..." In the bus there are only ten people left. And Stig Anderson is not one of them!

Lasse Hallström's circle of friend has been diminished considerably the past few years due to his collaboration with ABBA. Despite his 34 years, he has been known for years as a brilliant director with a progressive mentality and a couple of gems credited to his name that have been screened abroad on a regular basis, like recently on Dutch TV 'The Marzipan Pig'. When he was asked three years ago to make promotional films for ABBA, he first thought they were pulling his leg. But at the first meeting, it turned out that Björn and Benny had studied Hallström's body of work and were very familiar with his work.
"In all modesty, I can claim that these promotional films have played a part in the group's success. They were broadcast all over the world and apparently they all have the right mixture of romance, naivety and that indefinable amount of clean sensuality that turns the group into family entertainment. I've coincidentally managed to capture that on screen and in 'ABBA-The Movie' it turns out that way too. Older people think they are two decent couples that look so respectable compared to the other stars that are hanging on the wall of their children's bedroom. And the younger people only see these two gorgeous women."
"I think this is the reason why they have lasted so long: the girls are the focus of attention and the boys are in charge from a creative point of view. That's how all egos are sufficiently satisfied and everything remains balanced."
"Filming a movie like 'ABBA-The Movie' can be compared to preparing the Swedish soccer team for the World Championships. In other words: almost impossible. But just like it's the case with the Swedish soccer team, the end result is completely separated from the operating conditions. The harder the working conditions, the better the end result. We had prepared ourselves until the smallest detail in Sydney but on the day of the concert it rained for hours and it was so dangerous on the working platforms that were built especially for the occasion that we couldn't even film what we wanted. In reality it turned out that I directed seventeen camera guys all over the place by radiotelephone, so that the movie was actually put together in the cutting room. And in the studio of course, because the sound tapes consisted mostly of the sound of rain."

"How that works, doctoring the tapes in the studio?" says Björn somewhat tediously. "There are different ways of doing that. You can arrange the spatial effect in the studio by adding resonance or by taking a distance from a sensitive microphone and mix the sound of the audience in there. But this was only necessary occasionally, it was mostly a matter of patching up the vocals. If it was any different I would tell you! Otherwise we wouldn't have shown in the movie that the sound of Benny's accordion is actually made by a synthesizer and how our vocals are supported in difficult parts by the backing singers?"
"I think these comparisons with the Beatles are very flattering but they usually don't make sense. In certain ways they are an example for us. The Beatles also had an ingenious management and the timing for all their activities was perfect. With them, everything seemed to come at the right time: singles, albums, movies, books. And slowy but surely we want to make our music a little more complex too, so that our hits don't become too obvious and remain somewhat unpredictable. Take a song like 'Name Of The Game' for instance. In this refined arrangement, it would never become a hit if the radio stations didn't play it incessantly. A trained DJ already needs to play the record five times to hear its structure and for the car stereo or the radio at work you'll have to add five times to that before it will get you hooked. So you might say that ABBA takes advantage of the audience's appreciation by developing as composers as well."
"The fact that ABBA delivers a product that's controlled from start to finish by Björn, Stig and me is because no one seemed to be interested when we started this combination," says Benny when he mingles in the conversation. "If that had been different, we might have been forced to look for a publisher or accept an outsider as our producer. Or even sing songs written by others. Now we were able to complete what we set out to do quietly without anyone being interested. It wasn't until after 'Waterloo' that the vultures started showing up but at that time we were such a close unit that we knew that we didn't need anyone else. For me this was proof for an old basic rule that I always expected to be true but that I could never prove: do everything yourself if you are convinced that you are right, because no one can do it better. That's because in essence no one knows anything about the rock business. Commercialism can't be forced. One day - after having tried separately for ten years - we were suddenly in tune with the audience. I think it's a miracle that it has lasted for five years already. I think it's out of the question that it will last for another five years."

At 7:30 in the morning we call it a day. When I tell them that I barely have time to pack my suitcase at the hotel near the airport, they decide to drive me there in the limo. On the (indeed perfect) stereo system Benny plays a compellingly beautiful version of 'Name Of The Game' like he and Björn put it together with just piano, guitar and two delicate Swedish voices in the cottage on their little island and the hit version that's included on their next record 'ABBA-The Album'.
The book was called 'ABBA-The Phenomenon', the movie 'ABBA-The Movie' and the record 'ABBA-The Album'. This really suggests stardom, I remark. "Stardom?" says Benny. "That doesn't mean anything to me. I'm more successful than ever but the criticism has never been as heavy either. For that matter, you have been able to see for yourself that we are able to sit in a night club until the morning here in Stockholm without one Swede looking our way. When I went out for a drink after a performance with the Hep Stars we were stormed by fans on a regular basis. So what is stardom? Stardom is an expensive seat in the cinema at your own movie, that's stardom!"

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Bravo, 1977: A dream has come true for Anni-Frid: "I've always wanted a father like this"

"When I heard from Bravo that my father was alive and when I subsequently had talked to him, all I did was cry for hours. I couldn't get a single night of sleep anymore. I wanted to meet my father as soon as possible," Anni-Frid tells Bravo. "It's strange and at the same time fascinating to have an origin all of a sudden after 32 years, to get to know your own father and keep thinking: 'is it really him or does he only want to give himself an air of importance?' Everything that has happened in the past few days has had a huge impact on me. It was a tremendous stream of emotions that threatened to wipe me away. I was happier than I had ever been in my whole life and at the same time sad."
Even now, Anni-Frid still isn't able to believe it all. Slowly, she can get used to the idea that she has a father after 32 years, not to be an orphan anymore - something she had believed all those years.
"I kept hoping that I would be albe to meet my father only once at some point in the future. After my mother died so young, when I was only two years old. At one point, I was in Narvik, Norway and talked to neighbours and former acquaintances of my mother, to find out more about my father. I tried to find him through the Red Cross foundation. But all traces ended on a German ship that went down in 1945 near Denmark. And my mother´s acquaintances told me that my father wasn't like most other German soldiers. They thought he was very nice and tender. Still, they warned my mother for this relationship and when I was born I was a 'tyskbarn' which means something like 'German child' and at the time - 1945, after World War II - it was a severe abusive word."
That's why Anni-Frid's grandmother left Narvik two years later, after Anni-Frid's mother had died. "I would be able to grow up in Sweden unencumbered and without being reminded of anything. Initially, I even thought I was born in Sweden. It wasn't until I was old enough that my grandmother told me everything. But only now I learned the whole truth about my origin. When I finally faced my German father on September 9, my last doubts disappeared. Without saying a word, we fell into each other's arms. It was an indescribable feeling that I can't put into words. I just kept looking at him and thought that I was dreaming. I was also relieved that he is so sympathetic and that he has an open and reliable character. I always wanted a father like that. My desire for such a father was so strong that I saw my father in every elderly gentleman that seemed sympathetic to me. Now I finally had the real deal with me. I noticed that we had so much in common and I also saw a resemblance in our outwardly features. We both have the same nose, we have the same somewhat bended forefinger and when I walked around barefooted one day, my father took off his shoes and socks and smiled. We even have the same feet."
Benny liked Alfred Haase right away too. He was impressed by his open and honest nature. For the near future, Anni-Frid and Alfred Haase have planned to see each other more often.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Hitkrant, 1977: ABBA wants to leave Sweden

Apart from England, the tax laws in Sweden don't seem to be very favourable to pop groups either. At least, there are persistent rumours circulating that ABBA would consider to live elsewhere. We unravelled how much truth there is in all these rumours.

ABBA's manager Stig Anderson stated recently in Stockholm that the group indeed is exploring the possibilities to move to Monaco, Switzerland or Liechtenstein.

The high taxes wouldn't be the only reason why ABBA allegedly wants to move. In the end, Sweden is situated rather isolated up there in the north. Stig: "Eventually, we would be able to work just as well in one of those three countries as in Sweden. Why wouldn't we take that step?"

Another reason to turn their backs on Sweden could be the attitude of the Swedish media. In general, they appear to be rather negative about anything concerning ABBA. Although Stig's own statements could have caused this situation as well. At one point he even remarked: "The Swedes are not just dumb, they are much dumber!"

The ABBA company now consists of twenty people who all have steady jobs. Last year, there has been a profit of almost 35 million Dutch guilders. Anderson made about ƒ 285.000,00, Agnetha ƒ 107.000,00, Björn ƒ 104.000,00, Benny ƒ 100.000,00 and Anni-Frid no less than ƒ 229.000,00! When we take a look at that last amount and consider that 85 percent of that amount goes to taxes, then it would mean that Anni-Frid has to hand over ƒ 200.000,00 to the tax collection office. Ka-ching!

We are watching ABBA's movements closely. As soon as it is known that ABBA takes one step across the Swedish borders, we will be there - as a matter of speaking of course...

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Hitkrant, 1979: Agnetha escapes in her work - The tour is causing tensions

Putting together a two-hour-long show, not only with old hits but with new songs as well: ABBA is facing this enormous task with the upcoming world tour just around the corner. This means months of intense rehearsals, working extremely hard and not a moment of peace. All this work comes to Agnetha as some kind of solution: work wherein she can escape from the big silence that is slowly starting to take shape around her.

'The Big Silence': it's the title of a movie by the famous Swedish director Igmar Bergman. A title that became applicable to Agnetha, also because the movie deals with a relationship problem, something that the ABBA star has had to deal with herself.

Isn't it possible for her anymore to build a steady relationship? Ice hockey international Lars-Eric Eriksson, with whom Agnetha seemed to be so happy, left her because he couldn't cope with all the publicity surrounding him, Agnetha and ABBA. The old story about fame that destroys a relationship. The rumours that ABBA is going to split up after the world tour may or may not be true, it would at least be understandable. For five years now, ABBA has been on top, since the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974. Five years of being the centre of attention: that surely isn't easy!

Agnetha seems to suffer the most from it all. She isn't as smiley anymore like she used to be and the tensions that the upcoming world tour is causing are very hard on her. During the rehearsals, one is able to notice such things. Only a couple of nights of sleep to go, to put it like that. Only a couple of days to go of intense rehearsals, with hardly any time for relaxation in between (although Björn still goes out jogging for a couple of miles whenever possible), and then the moment of truth will arrive: the tour!

And after that? Time will tell. In any case, it would be good for Agnetha if she could finally start living as a 'normal' human being, not hampered by intrusive publicity.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Joepie, 1979: A musical on Broadway!

"ABBA won't last forever," Stikkan Anderson returns to the subject of the rumours about a possible end of the group. "We are very well aware of that. But you can rest assured that there's life after ABBA."

However, Stikkan thinks it's very hard to predict what's going to happen to all the separate members. "There is the possibility that the boys will keep on composing together. Perhaps they will guide new talents a couple of months per year in California or New York. That talent could come from anywhere: America, England and who knows, even Belgium or The Netherlands."
"And the girls? Yes, Agnetha writes her own songs. She would be capable of recording a solo album of her own songs. The same goes for Anni-Frid. You shouldn't forget that they were both solo singers before they joined ABBA."

No matter what happens, Stikkan Anderson will keep playing the boss of the big ABBA empire. All those plans are only vague ideas, according to the big boss. "We will start thinking about that seriously when we quit," Stikkan claims. He prefers to occupy himself with other plans at the moment. For instance, making an ABBA musical. That should be staged in America on Broadway.
"No other European artist has managed that yet," he says. Anderson is fully confident that it will all succeed, because he says: "We have the creative ability to do it." The problem with such a musical venture is that ABBA won't be able to be on stage on Broadway every night for three years in a row. They can't leave Sweden for such a long period of time, there are also records to be made. But there's a solution to that problem. The musical has to be a flop, a gigantic failure. Then ABBA would have to perform for one night only in America. "Yes," Anderson cries out in Swedish, "that's a good idea. Then that problem would be solved. But I still think it will be a success."

Anderson wants to execute the musical plan in the eighties. But there are more plans. "We want to do things that other artists have never managed to do."
He adds modestly: "Wouldn't that be fun." With 'fun', Anderson always means 'fantastic', but because of all the previous successes, he is not as sensitive anymore for all these wonderful plans. For him it's business, and business means money.
In the early days, Stikkan used to write songs himself. Now he leaves that job to Björn and Benny. They will have to supply the material for a new ABBA album next year. This year, a double album with old hits is scheduled to be released. The album is called 'Greatest Hits 2'. A new song will be included that is expected to become a hit in the coming months. From the world tour, a one hour long television special will be made, primarily consisting of footage from the London concert. On Saturday November 3, the performance in Brussels will be filmed that will be edited into the footage from London. Stikkan hopes this special will be finished before Christmas. But it's unlikely that it will be broadcast in Belgium around that time too, because ABBA wants to sell the special themselves and that doesn't only involve money but time as well.

Stikkan is keeping very busy. The ABBA business has to go on, even during the tour. That's why he won't come along when ABBA tours through Europe. He sends his personal secretary Görel Johnsen along. Stikkan stays in his enormous mansion on the beautiful island of Djurgarden in the middle of Stockholm, easily accessible for him in his expensive Rolls Royce.
When he is back from America, he will put his attention to the performance on the Red Square. "Because in Russia we have our obligations to the fans too."

On the black market, ABBA's albums are sold for about 200 Dutch guilders. ABBA is extremely popular over there. Only recently, the Swedish embassy was stormed by fans. The door was trampled down and the phones kept ringing. Everyone was asking for tickets for the concert that was rumoured to take place next Saturday, but at the embassy there was no info about this event. The ambassador didn't know what to do and decided to send a telex to ABBA. The content: "Is it true that you will be playing here next week? And if so, then we want tickets as well here at the embassy."
But it wasn't true. Yet another rumour. Stikkan Anderson sighs: "It's incredible how all these outrageous stories see the light of day. Really, I couldn't make them up."

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Muziek Parade, September 1979: Welcome to Holland!

Although ABBA is one of the major record sellers in America, Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny and Björn were indeed a little worried when they travelled to the land of Carter, to perform 20 concerts over there. The group has always claimed that they wouldn't go on tour in America until their popularity would have reached the same heights as for instance in Australia.
Well, the American audience has accepted ABBA. Or rather, they embraced them. But... that gigantic popularity that was ABBA's condition for starting a tour was not reached. But still ABBA is now busy performing a series of 20 concerts? Björn - on the eve of their departure - says about this: "It's no use waiting any longer with a concert. It's clear that our fans want to see ABBA. It would be an insult if we didn't go." Benny is a little more realistic: "That big breakthrough that we imagined has failed to happen. So it's no use waiting any longer. It's a good strategic move to perform concerts, as a tool to reach the absolute top over there. It's a tremendous challenge for me."

Stig Anderson has decided that it's better for ABBA not to perform in stadiums. "I have more faith in a series of shows in smaller venues, that are all sold out." So is ABBA scared of this tour? Stig Anderson: "Scared isn't the right word. We are careful. Just imagine that we would have to perform in half empty stadiums. That would be detrimental to ABBA's image."
Björn adds: "It was our own preference to work in venues that can hold 4.000 to a maximum of 18.000 people. We know from experience that having contact with the audience is so important. This way we will keep it cosy and intimate. That is good for ABBA because we are able to perform at our best, and it's good for the audience that will get the best that ABBA has to offer musically."

Contrary to groups like Queen, Genesis or Wings, ABBA will not go on the road with trucks packed with equipment. They will bring along a modest technical facility, a pile of backing tracks, a group of six musicians (not from Holland, as was suggested) and three backing singers.
Last year, Stig Anderson mentioned that he would like to take along the people from Rainbow Train on their tour of America. Everything seemed to be settled. Hans Vermeulen has even played with the group in the ABBA studios. As it turned out, Stig has still chosen to bring along his own session musicians.
Technicians will come along to make sure that the best possible sound is achieved. Björn about that: "Another reason that I'm a little worried about these shows is the fact that we are going to work with a modest technical facility and only 6 musicians. We are known for our perfection. Our records are the summit of care into the smallest detail. I hope the fans won't be disappointed about the lesser quality, compared to our records."

How is the situation in the group now that Agnetha and Björn got divorced? An obvious question and ABBA has prepared themselves to give the right answer: "Things are much better now than they were a year ago. There are no little spats anymore. The atmosphere isn't tensed anymore. We have a very fresh relationship towards each other and it comes through in our music," according to Benny who was adamant to answer this question.
All personal problems seem to be solved. The understanding between Agnetha and Björn is better than ever. The former married couple has never been fond of touring, because of the children. They still have that same attitude. Although they are no longer a couple, Agnetha and Björn don't want to be away from home for long periods of time, because they miss their little son and daughter.
There have been rumours that this tour has to be considered as a farewell. Allegedly, ABBA would split up permanently after this series of concerts.

It is true that ABBA is going to perform (even) less after this long and exhausting world tour. The intention is that Anni-Frid is going to do more solo work. Benny is planning to produce other artists. Recently, he already made a record with Finn Kalvik, a new Norwegian discovery. Björn is completely over the moon about the state of the art recording studio (48 tracks!) that ABBA had built for 3 million Dutch guilders. Björn wants to encourage world famous acts to come to Stockholm to record their albums there. Led Zeppelin has worked there recently and several members of Genesis have said that the ABBA studio was one of the best studios they had ever used. Then there is Agnetha. She is and remains ABBA's big question mark. She doesn't have any definite plans yet. She wants to stay with the group, and she wants to start recording solo records too, but she hasn't really decided yet.
At the press conference that will be held before ABBA's concert in Rotterdam, everything should become clear. Certainty about (a) ABBA; will the group stay together? and (b) Agnetha; what will be her position in the ABBA organization?
Muziek Parade has supported ABBA tremendously through the years. It seems that ABBA has been the only important musical occurance in the seventies. ABBA has brought us exceptional recordings (that we can enjoy for years to come). ABBA just can't split up. ABBA has to stay together. And even if the four individual members of this unique group are going to do some other side projects, there's nothing wrong with that, as long as ABBA keeps releasing their musical masterpieces on a regular basis.
Indeed, ABBA is getting ever more critical about their own records. 'Arrival' was recorded in nine months. It took them 12 months to get 'The Album' released and 'Voulez-Vous' is a piece of work that they worked on for 18 months. And you can hear it in its quality. If we take this into consideration, the next completely new album can't be expected until the end of 1980. But the fans are prepared to wait, because the result will be worth waiting for.
Welcome ABBA to Holland. Next month, Muziek Parade brings you the complete life story of ABBA as a cartoon. More than 20 pages. A typical stunt of Muziek Parade! And it's all in honour of the ABBA concert in Holland.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Popcorn, 1978

Everytime when ABBA needs new photographs, the telephone rings at the home of Munich star photographer Bubi Heilemann (32). His pictures of ABBA are going all around the world. From the latest session, Popcorn brings you the most beautiful pictures and on top of that we reveal some great news...

What happens when ABBA takes a holiday.
For ten straight weeks ABBA has taken a holiday during the past summer, before they went back into the studio in the middle of September to record the new album. What the four Swedes have done together: they went horseback riding (Björn: "We got this idea while we were shooting our movie"), they played tennis (Anni-Frid is the best player at that) and they paid a visit to their island near Stockholm. Agnetha and Björn spent their entire vacation there and together with their two children they lived in the block house, where most ABBA hits were composed up till now. Anni-Frid and Benny spent four weeks on their new boat, a large sailing ship from the model called 'Chris Craft Daycruiser'. Before that, Benny had taken a sailing course, so that he could play the captain himself. Benny: "That was really demanding. I had to study astronomy and maths, just like in school!"

Why ABBA changes clothes so often.
Sometimes sexy, sometimes gimmicky - ABBA constantly comes up with new ideas for costumes. Agnetha reveals the reason for that: "Privately, we are completely normal; that's why we like to dress up in outrageous clothes on stage. Without some glitter, we would simply look too plain." The picture on the left with ABBA dressed up in twenties style has remained a secret up till now - it's related to the upcoming ABBA musical. Anni-Frid: "But I definitely feel much better in tight mini costumes..."

How much Björn is fond of his children.
On every visit to a foreign city, Agnetha and Björn disappear for a couple of hours. Whoever is looking for them, can be sure to find them at the largest toy shop in the area. Because from every trip, they bring back toys for their children Linda and Peter Christian. Agnetha: "Björn is even worse than me. He is so fond of his children, that he spoils them way too much."

How they like to travel.
A boat or a private jet - those are ABBA's favourite means of transportation. In Stockholm - that's interveined by canals - the car is often replaced with a boat. For their rare television performances, ABBA fly themselves in with a rented plane, so that they can get back home the same night. Agnetha: "I prefer to sleep in my own bed!"

What this picture reveals...
A secret meeting between Anni-Frid and her father Alfred Haase, who was long presumed to be dead. Since they met each other for the first time last year, they saw each other regularly - always on Anni-Frid's invitation. The ABBA singer claims: "Everytime when I see my father I'm excited like a little girl. It was all such a big surprise for me. I have less problems on the telephone - that's why I call my father as often as possible."

Why Anni-Frid often likes to play the comedian.
It happened during the photo shoot for our poster: Anni-Frid suddenly put her hand under her shirt and played the sex bomb. It also happens during live performances that Anni-Frid always manages to get all eyes on her with her wild gimmicks. The reason why ABBA's brunette likes to play the comedian? Very simple: she's a little envious of blonde Agnetha who is usually ABBA's 'hot girl' with fans and journalists. Added to that, privately Anni-Frid is by far the wildest of the two girls. Looking like she does, Anni-Frid really doesn't need to steal the show from her blonde colleague. At least, the competitive battle between both ABBA girls has improved; after there had been lots of arguments during the last tour, now they've called a truce...

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Bravo, August 1983: Agnetha gets caught up with a marriage impostor

Her blonde hair cut in layers and slightly wind-blown, sparkling blue eyes and her glossy lips opened into a cheerful smile: Agnetha actually never looked as wonderful as she does on the photographs that were taken for her first solo album 'Wrap Your Arms Around Me'.
Apart from that, at the moment the Swedish ABBA fans will be able to see a second, totally different Agnetha. In that variety she is wearing her hair decently cut, with an ugly hat pulled over it. She is hiding her pregnant belly under a maternity dress, wildly patterned with flowers.
By all means, Agnetha only slipped into the part of the 'ugly duckling' for her first movie 'Raskenstam' that will have its premiere on August 19 in Stockholm.
'Raskenstam' is the true story about a marriage impostor that took the savings of 120 Swedish women between 1941 and 1943.
Agnetha plays the part of Lisa, the daughter of a fisherman. She is the only woman that Gustav Raskenstam falls madly in love with. He gets married to her and has two children with her.
Agnetha explains: "The most difficult part for me was remembering my lines, although I didn't have very long consecutive lines to speak. During mornings, when my children were at school, or late in the evenings, I was slaving away. Sometimes my girlfriends helped me out with my lines, then they would read out the lines of my adversary."
Another problem for Agnetha was her stage fright, something that she still hasn't got used to even after those many years with ABBA. During the last minutes before a performance, she constantly walks from mirror to mirror, she keeps powdering her face and puts on mascara for the umpteenth time.
Agnetha: "While shooting 'Raskenstam' this was no different. The first few days I was litterally sick due to stage fright. But the more often we had to keep reshooting our scenes, the more confident I felt. At concerts, I also started to feel a little more relaxed after about fifteen minutes."
Agnetha didn't mind that she had to walk around as Lisa in such a conservative and stuffy manner. "I don't think that clothes are all that important," she says. "Especially when one compares me with Frida, who is totally into fashion. When I'm at home I prefer to wear jeans and a pullover. For formal occasions I buy something from a Swedish designer, he calls himself X-it. At the moment I really like the colour green, clothes with broad shoulders, Italian shoes and boots."
It's not certain yet whether 'Raskenstam' will appear in German cinemas as well. But one thing is certain: on September 3 we will see Agnetha again in the television broadcast 'Wetten Daβ...?' from Berlin.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Club, October 1979: Hits and tractors

ABBA is in Holland. Their world tour is running smoothly and it's successful, as expected with everything related to ABBA. Their album 'Voulez-Vous' is breaking all sales records. ABBA is doing well. As long as it lasts...

With stars on their cheeks and platform boots on their feet, they were standing there: Anni-Frid, Agnetha, Björn and Benny: ABBA. At the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest they represented Sweden prominently with 'Waterloo'. Millions of people watched that Eurovision happening. And millions of people knew - just like the judges - after only minute, that this would be it. The Swedish group ABBA would make it with 'Waterloo'.
That phenomenon (knowing after one minute that this song is going to make it) has become familiar in the meantime. From April 1974 onwards, ABBA has taken the hit charts by storm. After 'Waterloo' came 'I Do, I Do, I Do', 'SOS', 'Dancing Queen', 'Name Of The Game' and many more.
Big and small record companies have been watching these proceedings with greedy eyes. Which record executive wouldn't want to have ABBA under contract? To have success, to establish a name and to make lots of money!
There's little chance for all these interested people. Now - in 1979 - ABBA is not planning to hand over their business to anyone. And they never planned that, for that matter. The 'battle' of 'Waterloo' was carefully prepared. In all peace and quiet they worked on their sound and - together with Stig Anderson - they founded Polar International Music. When the big hits came, everything was safely in their own hands. No obligations due to contracts with others, no outsiders that could tell them what to do. The records were written, recorded and released at Polar Music. The authors rights were guarded by people at Polar Music. The promotional videos were made there, as well as the big ABBA movie. And the tours and performances were scheduled there too.

Polar Music is doing very well. In 1978, they were able to make a profit of 35 million Dutch guilders! And these are just the royalties coming from ABBA music (records, lyrics and performances). Meanwhile, Polar has other things to take care of. The tax office in Sweden is demanding a lot of money. The ABBA team is paying enormous amounts of money to the public treasury, but wants to spend the Swedish kroner in different ways too.
That's why a couple of smart boys - who have A's in maths - were hired, that are busy investing the ABBA capital in all kinds of strange things. Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid own fishing boats, computers, tractors and other agricultural machines, office buildings, an art gallery and the most modern recording studio in the world...
The ABBA capital is safe. So there would be no problem if they get tired of quartet singing one of these days...

Is it possible that ABBA will quit in the near future? "It's starting to look like it," according to newspapers and pop magazines since Agnetha and Björn's divorce in December 1978. A couple of months ago, Anni-Frid travelled to Spain to shoot her first part in a movie called 'Try To Walk On The Water, If You Can'. "Anni-Frid goes solo, the end of ABBA," is what the papers are saying. "Nonsense," according to the people of the ABBA concern in Sweden. They want to extend the group's enormous success for some time to come. So for the time being, there are only rumours. 'Chiquitita' (one of the latest singles) sold 137.000 copies in Holland. It was the biggest selling ABBA single up till now. For the time being, the group is busy with their world tour and on October 24 they will perform live at the Ahoy hall in Rotterdam...

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Hitkrant, February 1977: Ovations for ABBA - First concert in Holland

The Jaap Eden hall in Amsterdam has room for an awful lot of people. And indeed, there were an awful lot of people: all of them enthusiastic concert attendants who came to see and hear how ABBA - for the first time in their existence - performed live in Holland. And they certainly weren't disappointed!

ABBA gave a dazzling and perfect show and in the meantime they proved that we can regard them as a mature pop group by now. The four Scandinavian superstars managed to deliver on stage what they have been promising on their records up till now. And these days that's quite an accomplishment when you see and hear how some pop stars can't live up to expectations when they have to do without the technical facilities of the studio.

But we have to admit that ABBA didn't do it all by themselves: behind the group there was a selection of terrific musicians that were always present but never dominant. It was all about Agnetha, Frida, Björn and Benny...

'Tiger' opened the concert and it made sure that the mood was set immediately. The reaction of the audience was enthusiastic and this clearly motivated the ABBA members. 'That's Me' was followed by 'Waterloo' and the first bars of this song stirred up the Jaap Eden hall considerably. There seemed to be no end to the cheers of the audience and the same could obviously be said for 'SOS': a feast of recognition!

Indeed, this could be said for almost the entire show: the hits kept on coming at full speed and almost without interruption. 'Money, Money, Money' made the audience burst out in loud applause and the same went for 'I Do, I Do, I Do', 'Mamma Mia' and of course 'Fernando', of which the chorus was even repeated twice to give the audience the opportunity to sing along. And they certainly made good use of that...

Two very unusual songs caught our attention: an instrumental piece that showcased Benny's best keyboard work and resulted in a surprising piece of swinging pop music. Furthermore, the penultimate performance in musical style in which - helped by a narrator dressed in tails and the ABBA ladies wearing identical dresses and wigs - the story was told of a young girl that gets caught in the show business. Despite the long duration of the piece, it remained an entertaining performance, not least thanks to Agnetha and Frida's dance and show work.

An endless stream of ABBA work was poured out over the audience, varying from the old Hep Stars success 'He Is Your Brother', via 'Dum Dum Diddle', the soon to be released new single 'Knowing Me, Knowing You', the humorous 'A-B-B-A' wherein the members of the group introduce themselves and of course 'Dancing Queen', that made the audience get up on their chairs. But that was also the finale of the ABBA party. A party that drew thousands of people to Amsterdam and that ended far too soon for many of them...

But the party wasn't over yet for Suzan and Marion, the two Hitkrant readers about whom we already wrote in issue number 5 that they had been so disappointed that they hadn't been able to get tickets for the concert.
Record company Polydor managed to get hold of two more tickets and this enabled us to take both ABBA fans along. They were listening and watching without taking a breath! And the icing on the cake came when - after a lot of fussing - we still managed to bring Suzan and Marion in contact with the members of ABBA. This happened at the Amstel Hotel, where the group stayed. And despite the fact that Agnetha, Frida, Björn and Benny were obviously very tired after their concert, it still wasn't too much for them to pay a little attention to their young fans.

Indeed, a wonderful evening, not least for the two girls from Hoorn who hadn't even hoped for being able to attend the concert and now they could even meet their idols in person. The pictures prove how well this was received.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Joker, 1978: ABBA

The first book, authorised by ABBA. A super gala with Rod Stewart, Elton John and the Bee Gees. The new album will be out in the shops in January.

A lot has been written already about the four Swedes, especially a lot of nonsense. For instance, the story about the plane crash that allegedly killed all ABBA members - at the time of the crash, Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid were in their offices in Stockholm as happy as a sandboy and drank coffee. Or the story about ABBA wanting to leave Sweden, because the tax collector's office cashed to many Swedish kronor. This story spread all over the world but it wasn't true.
'ABBA The Book' is the first solid publication that has ABBA's approval as well. It was written by Marianne Lindvall who has known the four Swedes for several years. It's very interesting to read what - for instance - Benny thinks about the critics and the fans: "We don't calculate anything. Critics who accuse us of that make us furious. We simply write the kind of music that we like and we hope that our audience enjoys it too. We could never release a bad song, simply because the fans would buy it anyway. First we look for a strong melody, then we decide whether it should be a rock 'n' roll number or a waltz. Once again, this depends completely on the feelings that we get from the new material."

Björn about the situation of the group today: "We are lucky, since we have our own record company. No one is looking over our shoulder, forcing us to produce more than we do. We decide how much we can produce, without exhausting ourselves and our audience. But we never compromise our musicality. When one of us only has the slightest doubt about a certain number, we forget about the whole thing."
Do you have any personal favourites? Benny: "Yes, 'Dancing Queen'. It's technically one of the most advanced productions. When the record was released, some critics thought that it was technically advanced to the extent that the song lacked any personality and warmth. It became a hit - despite everything. Our Irish fans even selected it as the best song of all times."

With every album, making hits gets harder and harder for ABBA. The new album was planned to be released this year, but it wasn't ready due to lack of time. The new release date: January 1979. And that's exactly the time when ABBA will once again be the centre of attention. And they won't be alone. On January 8, 9 and 10, the annual Unicef Gala will be staged in New York. Artists that have agreed to perform there include Elton John, Rod Stewart, Rita Coolidge, Kris Kristofferson, Olivia Newton-John and Barry Manilow. The hosts are the Bee Gees who want to assign the royalties of their next single to the International Children's Emergency Fund.
Touring plans are discussed only very cautiously in the Stockholm offices, because recreating the intricate ABBA sound on stage requires such advanced technology that they don't make any profit from the usually sold out concerts. Added to that, the group doesn't like touring. The reason: they don't have much time for a family life...

And that's the pleasant side of their success: ABBA don't have to rush themselves, the money is rolling in. Björn: "The fact that our money is invested in all kinds of companies, is our best old-age insurance. When we are through with ABBA one day, we need sufficient financial security so that we can quit right away."
Has that time come already? Björn: "I know nothing about that."

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Hitkrant, 1978: ABBA rebuilt a cinema into a studio

Just think about it: a pop group buys a sports centre with adjoining cinema worth twenty million Dutch guilders. After that, they rebuild the property into one of the biggest and most modern recording studios in the world. Then that group would have to make a great deal of money. But then again, this mixed double is something special. They are called ABBA.

Recently, Benny, Björn, Anni-Frid, Agnetha and not least their manager Stig Anderson gave a private party to mark the occasion of the opening of this recording studio.
The press - including the Hitkrant of course - couldn't believe their eyes. Never before had they seen so much electronic devices!

The studio - that is located in one of the main streets of Stockholm - has a mixing console with more than 3.500 buttons that are connected to the rest of the equipment with 200 kilometres of flex!
The studio itself is divided into five different rooms that all have their own resonance. Since every room has its own mixing console, the group is able to play together, while the vocal parts and the instruments can be recorded separately.
ABBA is planning to rent the studio to other artists as well. In the near future, a two-page spread advertisement will be published about this in the American trade journal Billboard Magazine. Because - as you all probably know already - ABBA means making money as well!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

1977: Anni-Frid's insecurity

Actually, we have only read positive reviews about the ABBA movie up till now, at least where it concerns the singing actors or the acting singers. This has pleased Anni-Frid (left on the picture) a great deal because she was still dealing with a big inferiority complex when it came to acting. In the past, she wanted to become a movie star and to achieve that goal she appeared on an audition for girls that were asked for a part in the children's movie 'Elvis Elvis'. On that occasion, she wasn't chosen for the part. According to her at the time - and she still feels this way - because she had been too nervous.
She wasn't bothered by any nervousness this time, although the other three people around her had done this kind of work before - with success. Benny has acted in a movie before with the group Hep Stars. Björn spent his time as a musician in studios where movie and television cameras were rolling and 'mother' Agnetha played the part of Mary Magdalene in the Swedish version of 'Jesus Christ Superstar'.
Director Lasse Hallström was happy with the experience of these people because the idea for a complete feature film has been growing slowly and he didn't have much trouble letting his 'actors' grow in the parts they had to play. And that was best put into words in the song 'Hole In Your Soul', of which song the first few bars serve as an introduction in this movie.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Bravo, December 1977: A Sunday's child for Anna and Björn

Stockholm, in the night to Sunday, the second Advent: Björn is awakend from his sleep when Anna shakes his shoulder: "I believe the time has come. We have to go to the hospital. The baby is coming."
Björn jumps out of his bed, gets dressed and also helps Anna getting dressed - like so many times the last few weeks of her pregnancy - because she can barely bend over anymore.
A suitcase packed with the most important necessities has been readily waiting in their home for days already. Because the child should have been born fourteen days ago, according to the doctor's calculations.
The couple drives to the hospital Danderyds Sjukhus in the North of Stockholm. For days, a room has been reserved there for the blonde ABBA singer. Björn: "I only had one thing on my mind: hopefully we're not too late. Hopefully we will get to the hospital in time."
Björn and Anna made it. But then their patience was severely tested again. Not until 9.00pm on Sunday, the second Advent, the baby is born. There are no complications.
"I was more nervous than I am when I'm working on a new album," Björn insists, who preferred to wait in the hallway during the delivery." Either way, this time I didn't sweat as much as I did in 1973, when our first daughter was born."
About ninety - for him nerve-racking - minutes go by before Björn can see his son for the first time. The child is healthy, weighs 3750 gram at birth, has dark hair and blue eyes. But this can all change because all children have blue eyes at birth.
Seven days later, Anna and her son are allowed to leave the hospital. They haven't decided on a name for the son and heir yet.

Anni-Frid and Benny are also glad that everything has worked out so well. Because now ABBA - that had to take it slow because of Anna's pregnancy - can get back to work in full force again. Björn: "In 1978 we want to go on tour in America and we have to prepare ourselves for that now. We will most likely come to Germany too. We will have to see if we can fit it into our schedule."
The ABBA movie had its premiere in Sydney and Melbourne on December 16 (most scenes were filmed in Australia). But none of the ABBA members took part in that - instead the quartet was represented by manager Stig Anderson.
The German ABBA fans will probably get to see the movie too in 1978 - according to Björn the negotiations with a German rental company are almost concluded.
But that's far away in the future for Anna. In these days before Christmas, their love and affection is completely devoted to their baby. "It's the most beautiful gift that I can imagine," she beams...

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Popcorn, 1978: ABBA brings you luck

"No other group in the world has had as much luck and success as we have had in the last three years," Anni-Frid admits. From 'Waterloo' up till 'Name Of The Game', ABBA has been able to score hit after hit. And the latest single 'Take A Chance On Me' is on its way up the charts as we speak. Not even the Beatles have had so many hits in a row in their heyday.
What's the secret of ABBA's success?
"Hard work, diligence and talent are the foundations of our career," Agnetha says, "but luck is an important factor as well. Something that we have never revealed until now: our lucky charms are two parrots..."
They are housed in a huge cage in the middle of the ABBA headquarter in Stockholm: red Dolly and yellow Oliver. Two years ago, friends of Björn and Agnetha brought them as a housewarming gift for the new ABBA office. And since then they have been part of the four Swedes' staff.
When Dolly screeches 'Abbbaaa' vociferously, it can even be heard in the office of manager Stig Anderson. Oliver is a little more quiet, but instead he likes to bite visitors in their nose. Benny has even been tweaked by Oliver a couple of times, while playing with him.
"Still we would never give them away," says Benny. "To us, they are some kind of mascots."
To show their gratitude, ABBA would like to give away a couple of funny lucky charms to their German fans: 100 brightly coloured, hilarious parrots - not living parrots but super specimens from the plush zoo - will be raffled among the Popcorn readers.
Agnetha: "That should give some comfort because we won't go on tour this year. These parrots are so sweet, that one can't do anything else but love them. And apart from that - as you can see with us - they bring you luck!"
Who wants to have a cuddly parrot from ABBA? Just write a postcard with the name 'ABBA' on it to: Popcorn, Werinherstr. 71, 8000 München 90. The deadline is March 10, 1978.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

1979: A gold disc for 'Chiquitita'

The Swedish group ABBA paid a visit to Madrid to appear on the television programme Aplauso, where they were presented with a gold disc, handed over by Jose Luis Uribarri.

The group, that is - as you all know - made up of Benny, Björn, Anna and Frida started out in the year 1972 and already with their first single 'People Need Love' they reached number two in the charts of their home country.
But without a doubt they achieved their definitive breakthrough at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, where they were the winners with the song 'Waterloo'.
From then on, everything went smoothly. Big hits that everybody remembers - like 'Fernando', 'Dancing Queen', 'Knowing Me, Knowing You' and so on - got to number one in the charts in almost every country. The most important interpretive aspects are the perfect blending of the voices, both female and male as well as simultaneously; these musicians are completely comfortable with the range in which they are singing - effortless and without special effects.
'Chiquitita' - the group's ultimate success - was a clear number one from the first moment it was released on record and its royalties will go to Unicef on the occasion of the international Year of the Child. Sung in Spanish, the song is now the current number one in the charts of our country.
With sales of fifty million singles and thirty million albums, Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid are undoubtedly the most profitable group for a record company at the moment.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Popshop, 1977: ABBA's future plans

Although there isn't any ABBA record on our charts at the moment, it would be premature to conclude that things are going downhill for the Swedish quartet. In England, for instance, their album 'Arrival' has been number one on the charts for weeks, and - until recently - the same could be said about the single from that album 'Knowing Me, Knowing You'. In America, they have just enjoyed their first real chartbuster with 'Dancing Queen'. And then we don't even mention countries like Australia, Poland, Germany, Japan, you name it.

In short, there is nothing wrong with ABBA. On the contrary. At the moment they are working on a new album that will be released in the late summer. "Probably, we are going to release one of the songs from that album as a single first," Björn told us on the phone. "But we don't know yet what it's going to be. Benny and I are still very busy composing. If that album is going to be different from our previous album? Maybe, maybe not. We never start working on an album with the thought 'now we will have to record an album that's better than the previous one'. We just write songs that come straight from our hearts. If they are different, if there is some kind of evolvement, then that's something that happened as a coincidence - or rather without intention. Music can't be planned ahead, because then everything would go wrong. There are groups that decide all of a sudden 'now we are going to make better music'. Then they force themselves, they are not themselves any longer and they record music that doesn't have a soul anymore. Then the spontaneity is gone. That won't happen to us. We don't care if the reporters write that we are not evolving! As long as the audience is satisfied..."
Apart from the album and the single, this year we don't have to expect much else from ABBA. They have signed a new contract with Warner Brothers that will begin next year. So it's only natural that their new bosses insist that they save their best material for their debut album on the new label.

But there is another reason why ABBA wants to take it easy for the rest of this year. In November - as we reported earlier - blonde Anna is expecting a second baby. "That was more or less planned," Björn continues. "The album will be completed in August and then Anna will have more than three months to prepare herself for the arrival of the new baby. She is doing just that at the moment as well, because while Benny and I are composing new songs, she doesn't have to be around. Last week she went - as she told me in the morning - grocery shopping. Around noon she called me to ask if we could come to the city with a small van. She had bought half of a baby store. The store manager told her that he would deliver everything to her door the next week. But Anna was too impatient: she wanted to have it immediately. That same afternoon she started decorating the nursery. Anna is crazy about children, you wouldn't believe how happy she is at the moment. The big subject at home: a boy or a girl. I would love to have a son, Anna would rather have a second baby girl. Either way, one of us will be right..."

Björn and Benny have just returned from America where they bought the complete equipment for a studio. "We have bought an old cinema in the centre of Stockholm that we are going to rebuild into a studio," according to Björn. "But we are still recording our album in that other studio, because our own studio is not ready yet. In September, three American technicians will come over to Sweden to lend a hand. The upcoming holiday months? We are going to spend those on our island. Sailing, going for walks and in between composing new songs. There is even talk of American artists that are planning to record in our studio. I can't mention any names yet. All I can say is that they are on the same label as we are. And then I mean the new label. Oh yeah, I want to say something to the fans: it is very likely that we are going on tour again next year. In March or April. This time we want to prepare for our show even better than before. Because, although the response to our first tour has been amazing, we weren't completely satisfied ourselves. The sound wasn't perfect, and we want to do something about that..."

Monday, 8 August 2011

Hitkrant, January 1978: How ABBA went to the cinema - Swedish premiere of The Movie

Stockholm, December 26: the red carpet is unrolled at the China cinema in the centre of the Swedish capital. Outside, it is swarmed with police officers, crush barriers and fans. Inside, an awful lot of Swedes and one Dutchman: your reporter, invited to attend the Swedish premiere of ABBA - The Movie, in the presence of ABBA themselves.

It seems like Hollywood: spotlights, news reporters, press photographers and thousands of fans. But still, this Swedish presentation of ABBA's first feature film isn't as exclusive as its world premiere in Holland: people were able to simply buy a ticket, as far as there were still any available.
There are cheers, police officers are doing their best to keep the pushy priers that hadn't been able to get a ticket at a distance. Agnetha, Björn, Anni-Frid and Benny have arrived, in a more than lifesize Mercedes. It is five to seven.

Before the police has been able to get there, the fans have already opened the doors of the car and the four pop stars are almost dragged out. Photographers rush to the scene, police officers are forming a chain and it's all a terrible frenzy.
Eventually, ABBA - smiling cheerfully, how is that possible - is still ushered into the cinema. In the middle of the commotion, I get the opportunity to yell at Benny what he thinks about all this.
"Fabulous! Fantastic!" he yells back, glowing with excitement and Anni-Frid - hanging on his arm - happily nods at me as well.
"What's the name of Agnetha's baby?" I ask and Anni-Frid says (because I'm now pressed tightly to the couple so that we don't have to yell any longer): "Ask Björn!" And we're already in.

ABBA is guided to the stage and someone named Claes af Geijerstam - so I've heard afterwards - a well known gentleman in the Swedish music business, starts a speech in - for me - incomprehensible Swedish. I realize that I'm probably the only foreigner here: no one even tries to speak English, until I find a kind gentleman who is willing to translate some things.
An award is being presented: a golden gong for an occasion I don't completely understand. Then Agnetha, Björn, Anni-Frid and Benny are escorted to their seats. Simply between the other guests and fans. We should have had that experience in Holland!

The movie starts, but I probably don't have to explain anything about that anymore to any Dutch ABBA fan. Afterwards, I had a little conversation with Agnetha but you will be able to read all about that in issue number 3. In that same issue, I will also tell you something about the reviews that ABBA - The Movie received in Sweden and about my visit to the ABBA empire, Polar Music. See you in two weeks!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Melody Maker, 1979: Agnetha and Björn are getting a divorce, but no danger for ABBA!

The ABBA members Agnetha and Björn were always one of the happiest couples in the pop business, always smiling and still in love, even after eight years of marriage. But the appearances were deceiving: since quite some time there was something wrong in the Fältskog/Ulvaeus marriage. And now Agnetha and Björn have confessed in an interview that they have been living separately for some time and that they want to get a divorce. MM correspondent Jan Bengtsson is reporting from Sweden.

“Already six months ago, we have decided that we want to get a divorce,” Agnetha confesses, “and since Christmas we are living separately. However, the distance between our houses in Lidingö is only seven minutes, because we want to keep on taking care of the upbringing of our children together.”
But what is the reason for the divorce? Infidelity perhaps? Agnetha: “Speculations are pointless. Fact is that Björn and I couldn’t live together any longer. When people don’t have anything to say to each other any longer and don’t get through to each other anymore, it’s no use to keep living together. But I want to emphasize that we are separating as good friends.”
The victims of these proceedings are the two children of the couple, Linda (6) and Christian (1). “The most difficult thing was telling our daughter gently that we are getting a divorce. All three of us ended up crying.”
The report about the divorce came just as unexpected to ABBA manager Stig Anderson as it did to the rest of the world. Only the other two ABBA members, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson, knew that their colleagues wanted to get a divorce.
However, although the collapse of Agnetha and Björn’s marriage surely is regrettable, in the end it’s definitely a private matter that only concerns those involved. But for the ABBA fan, the question now rises if this will have any consequences for the group ABBA. Melody Maker posed this question to the ABBA management in Stockholm and got a pleasant reply. ABBA will go on and they will go through with their schedule for 1979 as planned. In February, the group will film a TV show in Switzerand, entitled ‘Snowtime Special’. The proceeds from this broadcast will flow to Unicef, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.
The new ABBA album, that still hasn’t got a title yet, will probably be released in the middle of April. And in the beginning of August, the start of a world tour is even scheduled.
So it’s clear: some things have definitely changed for Agnetha and Björn, but not for the millions of ABBA fans all over the world!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Hitkrant, 1979: Is this ABBA’s farewell tour? Stig Anderson confirms rumours

It’s very quiet in the ABBA camp. Björn, Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid have withdrawn on their island. They are rehearsing day in and day out, because the biggest tour that ABBA has ever made is right around the corner.

The supergroup from Sweden will visit no less than 35 countries, after the start of the tour in America on September 13. “We have to conquer America now,” says Benny. Because over there ABBA still hasn’t achieved more than a couple of incidental hits. But there are no signs whatsoever of an ABBA mania.

So when reports started appearing in the American media a couple of months ago wherein doubts were expressed if ABBA actually existed in reality, Björn and Benny were furious.
Benny sighs: “We are well-known all over the world, except in America. That has to change now as soon as possible!” That’s why ABBA is working very hard on their repertoire for this tour. Because they are going to show those Americans something else!

But what happens when the tour ends in Dublin on November 15? Will this be ABBA’s last tour? The answers to these questions aren’t that simple. The rumours that this will be the last one are persistent. ABBA will probably continue as a duo.
Allegedly, Björn and Benny are going to retire from the group. They want to concentrate completely on writing and producing. The television performances will then only be done by Agnetha and Anni-Frid.

The most important reason is that the relations in the group are strained. Björn and Agnetha’s divorce didn’t do much good in that respect. The other reason is that writing songs – which is done by Björn and Benny – is getting ever more difficult for them.
A couple of months ago, manager Stig Anderson denied all these rumours, but he isn’t denying them any longer. The only thing he wants to say about it is that there is some truth in all these reports. Either way, the concert in Rotterdam on October 24 might very well turn out to be of a historical value!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Elegance, July 2011: Princess Frida

She still looks amazing, the dark-haired of the two ABBA singers. The love of her life, a German nobleman that gave her the title of Princess, passed away not long after their wedding day. But as Agnetha once said about her: “Anni-Frid is a strong woman. Nothing will bring her to her knees.”

Swedish monument. Although Anni-Frid Lyngstad (1945) is regarded by the Swedes as a national monument, in reality she was born in the Ballangen area Björkåsen in Norway out of a relationship between Synni, at the time only nineteen years old, and a married German soldier, Alfred Haase. The timing wasn’t very fortunate: the end of World War II also means the end of the Norwegian occupation. Alfred returns to Germany and Synni and her mother Arntine – afraid of retaliations – elude the country.

No stage fright. Grandmother Arntine goes to Sweden with the baby, where she takes every job that she can get to earn their living. It doesn’t take long for Synni to join her mother and child. When she is twenty one however, she dies of a renal disease, so that Arntine is forced to raise Anni-Frid – barely two years old – on her own in Torshälla, where she finds a job as a seamstress. She sings a lot of old Norwegian folk songs together with her granddaughter, who likes to sing along: soon she is known as the girl with the beautiful voice at school and in the neighbourhood. When she is thirteen years old, she performs for the first time officially, as a schlager singer with the Evald Eks Kvintett. “I could hardly believe that such a young girld could already sing so well,” Ek said later. “She rehearsed with ease and she was never shy on stage. The only thing I taught her was to sing to capacity: she had the tendency to hold back too much.”

Talent competition. Frida performs every weekend with the dance band with whom she sings golden oldies: “I was far too young to work, but I looked older and I lied about my age.” With the same gusto, she takes singing lessons (“school was of secondary importance to me but I took music very seriously”), she changes to a jazz band and in 1963 she forms her own group: the Anni-Frid Four. With this group she wins a talent competition and the prize is a recording contract and a performance on national television.

A star at one blow. By pure coincidence, the broadcast is on the same day that Sweden changes from left to right hand traffic: September 3, 1967. People are advised not to head out on the streets and almost the entire population is sitting in front of the television that evening. That’s how all of Sweden sees her perform ‘En Ledig Dag’ (A Day Off). Frida is an overnight star. Not some little pop star, but a real woman with a strong personality and voice. “When I think about Anni-Frid, then I think about fierceness,” is what her ABBA colleague Agnetha Fältskog says about that later on. “I got to know her long before ABBA and my first impression of her was: a strong, independent woman. And she proved that later on, nothing will bring her to her knees. She alway goes on. I admire that deeply.”

Teen marriage. Anni-Frid has to be strong, because since she was seventeen years old, she was married to her bass player Ragnar Fredriksson. Together they have two children: Hans (1963) and Ann Lise-Lotte (1967). Performing, fronting a band and taking care of two children turns out to be too much. Just like her mother left her in the care of her grandmother to be able to work, Frida leaves her own family to start working in Stockholm. The marriage doesn’t survive, the couple separates in 1969 “because we got married when we were ridiculously young,” according to Lyngstad who always remained good friends with Ragnar. “I was just as naïve as my mother when she had me. At that age, you think you can do everything.”

Agnetha. At least she can sing and she becomes a huge star in Sweden. During that time she regularly bumps into Agnetha Fältskog in the music circuit. “I liked listening to her, as a singer you are always jealous of the voice of someone else,” according to Frida. “Already then, she could sing very high and crystal clear, I had a darker sound. And in return, she loved my sound.” But they don’t get to collaborate. “We mentioned it every now and then, but we were always too busy. And we had no idea how strong the combination would be.”

Pure magic. Benny Andersson does have an idea. Since 1969, Frida has a relationship with this composer, whom she will marry in 1978, at the peak of ABBA’s success. In 1971, he produces her first – very successful – solo album. The other ABBA members are singing backing vocals on it. This begs for more, and the relationship with Benny combined with the growing friendship with Agnetha and her boyfriend Björn Ulvaeus leads to ABBA, although she keeps recording and performing on her own too. “It wasn’t easy to choose,” Lyngstad says about that. “I had been working as a solo singer for years, but at the same time I heard what happened when we played together as well. The group won. I was curious what else we could achieve with that sound.”

The ABBA sound. The secret of that sound is a mixture of a rock rhythm, a sparkling guitar, a synthesizer and two to four voices (thanks to their experiments with overdubbing that doubled the voice tracks), that could sing close harmony with audible ease. Frida’s mezzo soprano has to struggle to complement Agnetha’s high sound, which makes for the trademark, somewhat metallic ABBA sound, according to Ulvaeus. “Frida has a clear, clean, unique voice with a little edge,” he says. “She has a wide range, in the lower regions as well. She had the most experience too. We just composed in our own range, because Frida could sing everything anyway.”

Cowboy boots and hotpants. Frida is the sophisticated brunette (“sometimes red, sometimes orange, sometimes reddish – I was obsessed with my hair and dyed it far too often. You shouldn’t experiment in a hotel room with products of which you can’t read the instructions for use”), Agnetha the sexy blonde. She is the driving force behind the white cowboy boots and the pink hotpants. She enjoys the success more than the others. “I was used to large-scaled performances and I loved to tour,” she said about that later on. “Sometimes I couldn’t believe that the others were having such a hard time with all the attention. I thought: this is why you are an artist.”

Hit machine. Still, she sometimes has her doubts about their massive success. “If I’m completely honest, I have had moments that I regretted being a part of ABBA,” she says. “But never on stage, I was always happy behind the microphone. But having to be a ‘hit machine’ was difficult for all of us. We had families, but we barely had private lives and we depended on each other. I think less critical about that now. It’s better to remain positive because you can’t escape ABBA. It’s no use to have regrets about the fact that we liked to dance and dress like that during that time.”

Genealogy. The international mega success causes a remarkable reunion. Lyngstad had always thought that her father had died on his way back to Germany because the ship that he was on went down. However, in 1977 the German teen magazine Bravo publishes a poster with the genealogy of the ABBA members, which mentions the names of Frida’s parents as well. This is perceived by her halfbrother Peter Haase, who asks his father if he was in Ballangen during the war. A couple of months later, Anni-Frid meets her father for the first time, but a strong connection doesn’t develop and five years later the contact between them comes to a halt. “We remained strangers to each other,” she said about that in an interview. “I refuse to believe that he didn’t know anything about my mother’s pregnancy. I prefer to spend my time with people that stand by you in difficult times as well.”

New paths. That doesn’t happen either when ABBA falls apart in the beginning of the eighties. Just like Björn and Agnetha, Frida and Benny get divorced as well in 1981. The group quits after that. “It wasn’t a matter of arguments, it was more that we had lived out of each other’s suitcases as couples for ten years,” Frida once said about that. “We had the feeling that all had been said and done, we didn’t live our own lives anymore. It was time for something else. It says a lot about the mutual harmony that this point was reached by all of us almost at the same time. And it says something about our friendship that we have always kept in contact privately.”

Second beginning in London. Almost immediately, Frida takes up her solo career again, she moves to London and is successful again, especially in Europe thanks to the ‘Something’s Going On’ collaboration with Phil Collins. “On the one hand, it offered a tremendous creative freedom,” she said about her second beginning. “On the other hand, everything I did was compared to ABBA. I only realized later on how huge and important the group was. It was a blessing that I had been working for such a long time before my time with ABBA, so that I could rely on the routine of a working artist. If ABBA had been the first thing in my professional career, I don’t think I would have dared to sing at all after that. Even with all that experience, it has taken me quite some time to accept that I could never match that.”

Doing her own grocery shopping. Because the press in London barely leaves her alone, she moves to Switzerland permanently in 1986, to a spot that looks out on the Matterhorn. “I already knew Zermatt because of my skiing holidays with Benny,” she says. “Swiss people are not impressed with famous people and there was nothing I wanted more than a normal life. Simply doing some gardening, doing my own grocery shopping. On television I see one talent competition after the other with people who want nothing more than become famous. I can’t speak for others, but according to me it’s better to have a normal life.”

Prince. This normal life comes to an end when Lyngstad gets married for the third time in 1992, to a five year younger nobleman and architect: Prince Heinrich Ruzzo Reuss van Plauen, which turns her into Her Serene Highness Princess Anni-Frid Synni Reuss, countess van Plauen. It’s love at first sight for the couple: he leaves his wife for Anni-Frid. They get married in Denmark so they don’t violate the German nobility. “The title is a non-issue for me,” she said at the time. “The press thinks it’s very interesting, but for me it is not. We recognize something in each other, that’s the only thing that matters.”

Friends with the Queen. Still, the marriage resembles a fairytale in a way. The society welcomes Frida with open arms almost immediately. She already knows Queen Sylvia: in 1976, she sang ‘Dancing Queen’ with ABBA for the royal couple’s wedding and as well-known Swedish ladies they regularly bump into each other. Thanks to Heinrich, who went to boarding school with King Gustav and remained friends with him, Frida gets to know the Bernadottes privately as well. She becomes one of Queen Sylvia’s closest friends and she regularly accompanies her in a discrete manner on working visits. The couples spend a lot of time together and even go on a holiday together, to Bhutan.

Tragedies. Daughter Ann Lise-Lotte dies in a car crash in 1998 near Detroit and one year later, Frida loses Heinrich to lung cancer. The grief breaks down her usual optimism. “I was happier with Ruzzo than I had ever been in my whole life,” she says in an interview. “I was in my fourties and every insecurity had faded away, it was a good period in my life, everything fell into place. Nothing lasts forever, but it’s completely unnatural for a mother to survive her daughter. Just like you can’t imagine that you have to watch your life partner die.”

Wonderful moments. After a long retreat wherein she barely leaves her house for months on end, she comes back to life. “Life has pushed me in a different direction,” she says in 2001. “Crises shape you, they point you to the fact that you have to cherish the wonderful moments. To try every day to be happy about something and to make something out of life. To dig a little deeper to find out what really matters in life and not pay too much attention to superficialities, that sadly seem to become more important these days. Be who you are, be happy with what you’ve got. There is a reason for your existence, for that reason you have to live on.”

Family takes priority. She devotes most of her time to environmental and child protection and her loved ones. “Family is very important to me,” she says. “It wasn’t until I was grown up that I realized how difficult it must have been for my mother and my grandmother. I didn’t face the sadness in my life on my own. I have a son, a son-in-law, a grandson and two stepdaughters who support each other. It’s very comforting to have each other and to live with each other, no matter in what way. I use the word ‘family’ in the widest sense of the word possible, my friends are a part of it too. All those people together give your life a meaning.”

Reunion? Although Frida says that she lacks the motivation to start performing again, the wildest rumours are circulating that ABBA would get together for a one-off charity concert. Frida: “Agnetha and I have discussed this several times, but we both feel that other things become more important when you get older. I never say never, but I’m afraid it won’t happen. Even we realize that something magical happens when we are together somewhere. But it’s also a lot of fun to celebrate ABBA in a different way, like we do at premieres of the musical or the movie. I have the impression that our presence brings about an enormous joy and it gives me the opportunity to enjoy the things that I have done earlier on in my life. I didn’t have the time to actually enjoy it then. That’s the beautiful thing about this period in my life: every now and then standing still and enjoying things, without being in a hurry.”