Australia, America, Europe - there are not many countries in the world where ABBA hasn't performed yet. But no matter where they took to the stage, the concerts were always sold out. In Australia they performed in front of 25.000 fans in the pouring rain, and no one left before the last note had been played. In London, ABBA could have played 625 concerts in the biggest hall - the Royal Albert Hall - that many fans had applied for tickets. In Stockholm, ABBA performed at the Stockholm Royal Opera House in front of the Swedish Queen Silvia and King Karl Gustav in June 1976.
In Germany, ABBA was celebrated like hardly any other group as well. They already performed three times - in 1974, 1977 and 1979 - in our country. The tickets were sold out within a couple of hours. Faster than had ever happened before in pop history.
For pop fans all over the world, Baldersgatan 1 in Stockholm is the hottest address - it's ABBA's headquarter. This is the location, from where Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid are running their career in large and roomy offices. It's where the stereo equipment, record players, tape recorders are located to listen to their records and tapes. There's also a lunchroom, a gymnastics room for Agnetha and Anni-Frid's dance lessons and it's the headquarter of the fanclub and the place where the numerous gold records are retained.
But the actual studio is in the city centre.To that purpose, ABBA has bought an old, worn out cinema and had it completely rebuilt.
Agnetha Fältskog was born on 5 April 1950 in Jönköping. She is 1,72 metres tall, has light blonde hair and blue eyes. When she was still a child, she already composed her first songs. After secondary school she started working as a telephone operator at a car firm. In the evenings she sang with an amateur band. When she was 17, she already had her first hit in Sweden. Altogether, she recorded five albums and fifteen singles as a solo singer. She met Björn in 1968.
In January 1979, the report that Agnetha and Björn wanted to get a divorce dropped like a bombshell. Up till then, they were perceived as a dream couple. Seemingly happy, they lived in Lidingö in an eight room mansion, built in 1940. In 1973, daughter Linda was born and not until December 1977 their son Christian.
Meanwhile, they are divorced, the children are living with Agnetha. But Björn is allowed to see them whenever he wants. The outspoken and temperamental Agnetha and the always quiet-acting Björn got acquainted in 1969 during a television performance. One year later they got engaged and on 6 July 1971 they got married.
It was the pop wedding of the year in Sweden. When they were on tour they were looking out for a church they wanted to get married in. Eventually, they found the right church in the small village Verum in the south of Sweden. Back then, Benny was sitting at the organ and played Mendelssohn's wedding march for the couple. 3.000 fans had come to Verum. Now that's only a beautiful memory for the both of them, but despite the divorce they remained good friends.
Björn Ulvaeus was born on 25 April 1945 in Göteborg. He is 1,76 metres tall, has blonde hair and blue eyes. He started his career in the early sixties with the folk group The Hootenanny Singers, and he also wrote their songs. He met Benny in 1972 and decided to start a new band together with him. ABBA was born...
Bravo: How did you come up with the name ABBA?
Björn: "When we first performed together at a restaurant in Göteborg we called ourselves Engaged Couples. But that was a flop. Our first album was billed with 'Björn, Benny, Agnetha & Frida', until our manager simply shortened our first names during meetings. That's how he came up with ABBA."
Bravo: In the beginning, there was quite some confusion - Agnetha was called Anna.
Benny: "We thought that was better because it sounded so old-fashioned."
Bravo: How did you come up with the logo with the reverted 'B'?
Agnetha: "That came up during a photo session for Bravo! We had to hold our initial letter in life-size. Benny turned around his B and we only noticed this when the pictures were ready. We liked it so much that we decided to copyright that logo."
Bravo: Why do you tour so rarely?
Anni-Frid: "On the outside it may seem that we are very lazy. But Benny and Björn often work in the studio for months and months until they have found the right songs. We don't release everything that we record. Apart from that, promotional films have to be made, photo sessions for the cover and every tour needs at least three months of preparation. We only want the best and everything has to be perfect."
Bravo: Do you often spend time together privately?
Björn: "Not so much these days. In the old days we spent our holidays and weekends together but nowadays we prefer to go our separate ways privately."
Bravo: It has often been written that Agnetha and Anni-Frid don't get along - especially on tours.
Agnetha: "That always happens when people are together. I am a fiery type of person who easily flies off the handle. But I easily get over it as well. Anni-Frid on the other hand has a thick skin, she can take a lot, until she boils over. But when we fall out, then we really do. We tell each other what we think and after that everything is fine again."
Bravo: How long will ABBA keep on going?
Benny: "As long as our fans think our music is any good. We just renewed our contract."
Benny was born as Björn Bror Benny Andersson on 16 December 1946 in Stockholm. He is 1,80 metres tall, has blonde hair and blue eyes. With his parents as his example he started playing the accordion already at an early age. Later on he learned how to play the piano. In 1963 he started the rock group The Hep Stars and with them he received eight gold records. The group was on tour in Germany quite often as well. These days he is ABBA's sound craftsman.
No matter how profoundly different they are, Anni-Frid and Benny immediately understand each other without using many words. Anni-Frid likes to go out, she loves to dance in discotheques, she likes to go to concerts and she can often be found in the cinema or at the theatre. Benny on the other hand prefers the silence of the studio, he often withdraws behind his piano for nights on end. He composes new songs or finds new sound gimmicks at the mixing console that should turn every new ABBA record into a surprise. Anni-Frid concerns herself more with the stage show.
When Anni-Frid and Benny got acquainted in 1969, they both just had a disappointing relationship behind them. They both had just got divorced, they each have two children with their previous partner. But their newfound love helped Benny and Anni-Frid to get over their disappointment. For eight years they lived together, before they got married on 6 October 1978. They had made the announcement long before that - but still it was a surprise.
Benny and Anni-Frid are living in a mansion in the upscale area of Lidingö on the outskirts of Stockholm. Their children come to visit them regularly there.
Anni-Frid Lyngstad is the only member who doesn't originate from Sweden. She was born on 15 November 1945 in the Norwegian town Narvik as a daughter of the German officer Alfred Haase and the Norwegian girl Synni Lyngstad. Anni-Frid moved to Sweden when she was still a little girl. She is 1,72 metres tall, has brown hair and green-brown eyes. She started her career as a jazz singer in small clubs. And then she got a job as a dancer in a television ballet. She got married to the musician Fredriksson and had two children with him, Hans and Lise-Lotte. In 1968 she got divorced. In 1969 she met Benny.
6 April 1974 was the day that ABBA laid the foundation for their breathtaking career. On this day, they performed their song 'Waterloo' in front of more than 500 million television viewers at the Eurovision Song Contest. Beforehand, no one had expected that they would win - therefore it was all the more a suprise afterwards. But even then, many people believed it was just a one-off incident. Since 1956, no one from Sweden had won Eurovision. And never before had a group from Sweden been able to turn the pop world upside down. But ABBA did it - up till now they are just as successful as the Beatles and they are on their way to overtake the guys from Liverpool. Since 1974, they've had three hits in the charts every year - up till now there are 18 of them - and each of their albums turned into gold.
ABBA gave 41 concerts in 1979. 360.000 people saw Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid perform on stage. 50 people worked behind the scenes to make sure the show was running problem-free, a show that the four Swedes had worked on for three months. Anni-Frid and Agnetha took dance lessons, Agnetha even played piano on stage, and they also designed the costumes themselves.