Sunday, 26 May 2013

De Telegraaf, 1979: ABBA's Björn shows his new love

ABBA star Björn Ulvaeus, who recently divorced his wife Agnetha, introduced the new love of his life yesterday.

He spoke enthusiastically about his feelings for the blonde Lena Källersjö who is now inseparable from him. Björn said in his London hotel room, while his ex-wife Agnetha was alone in her room a couple of doors further: "I had only been single for a week after I divorced Agnetha, when I met Lena. We started living together right away. I discovered that love comes easier when you have already lived with somebody. When Agnetha and I separated, I knew immediately that I would fall in love again. I realised that I wasn't cut out for a bachelor's life."
Björn thinks that the divorce from Agnetha has been easier on him than he had expected: "There were a lot of tensions," he said. "When it got much worse we tried to distance ourselves from the tensions but the situation became intolerable. Now we have a good understanding in our work and we've remained friends."

While Björn has found happiness again with a new girlfriend, friends are saying that Agnetha has far more difficulties. She only has loose and temporary relationships. Björn says: "I believe Agnetha likes being single. She has had a lot of relationships but I thought she was having a hard time with them."

Björn says: "Despite all our problems we have done the right thing by getting divorced. We were both very selfish and this caused numerous arguments. Agnetha isn't jealous of my new girlfriend either. We often go out to dinner together. Lena and Agnetha get along great with each other."

Monday, 20 May 2013

Das Freizeit-Magazin, 1978: Björn: this is my life

Just like his other three ABBA colleagues, Björn grew up with music. And he had already tasted success in show business as well, before he started his triumph with the Swedish group. "When I was only eleven years old, I started a skiffle group at school," Björn is remembering from the start of his musical career. When he was seventeen - Björn was born on 25 April 1945 in Göteborg - he launched The Hootenanny Singers, a Swedish folk group. Today he has achieved with ABBA what he had always dreamed about as a child. But his private happiness with his family means even more to him than these enormous successes. With his pretty wife Agnetha, little daughter Linda and son Christian.

Because the school wouldn't spend any money on a band for a party, Björn - only 17 years old - took the initiative and founded a folk group, together with three friends. The school party turned out so well that The Hootenanny Singers - that's how the four named themselves - decided to keep playing together in the future. When he was only eleven years old, Björn had already started a very strong skiffle group at school.

Do you recognise the boys from Göteborg on the bottom left? At the beginning of the sixties, Björn achieved the big breakthrough with his group. Here you can see the Singers in a 1964 TV show.

Björn had just started walking when his parents moved from his home town Göteborg an the Swedish southeast coast to Västervik. Björn: "Here I was going to school and I am standing on our old market."

Björn could rarely rest on his laurels in his adolescence. After he had finished highschool he dived headfirst in  a study of law and economics, although he was already very busy as the leading man of The Hootenanny Singers.

Even before his ABBA days, Björn was a popular target for Swedish autograph hunters. "Here I am signing our first record as a Hootenanny Singer for a girl. It was a big hit."

When Björn took this picture of The Hep Stars in 1966, he couldn't imagine that this meeting would actually determine his future. Indeed, that's when he met Benny, his ABBA colleague.

ABBA started with Björn and Benny's friendship. Björn: "We had noticed that we were on the same wavelength musically and tried our luck as a duo in 1970." Later on the two girls joined them.

With 'Waterloo' and ABBA's win at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, their string of successes took off. Numerous awards followed, like the Golden Gong that the quartet received at the premiere of the ABBA movie.

And yet another award: the royal couple of Monaco presents the four stars with a music award. In the meantime, ABBA is considered the most successful group of all time.

While both ABBA girls keep themselves fit with daily gymnastics, Björn prefers to swim a few rounds in the water. He was already a great swimmer as a child.

In the 'Waterloo' year 1974, ABBA's headquarter in Stockholm was still a bit modest. Björn and Agnetha's little daughter Linda - only one year old - looks at the camera in wonderment. The little girl doesn't understand anything about success yet.

Björn met blonde Agnetha at a 1969 TV show. The couple got married two years later. This picture was taken in 1977 while shooting the feature film 'ABBA - The Movie'.

Björn and Benny in the studio: when it comes to the music, the both of them won't let anyone butt in. Benny makes sure that the sound is right. Björn is taking care of the lyrics and ABBA's day-to-day business.

Although the four Swedes are not considering to rest on their laurels, live performances like this will become less frequent in the future. Björn: "We need time for our private lives too."

Sunday, 12 May 2013

1983: Frida - singer is breaking free from ABBA

ABBA splitting up, ABBA not splitting up: when both singers of the Swedish group started concentrating on their own solo projects, the fans were holding their breath. The rumours were immediately denied from Stockholm, but especially because of the solo sidestep of the red-haired Frida Lyngstad, it seemed that ABBA's days had been counted. Together with Genesis drummer Phil Collins, Frida recorded a solo album - titled 'Something's Going On' - that was received exceptionally well, and she announced that she had no intentions to stop at that one album.
The next shock for the fans came when Frida moved, and not just somewhere inside Sweden: she left her home country to move abroad to London. When on top of that it became known that she had sold all of her shares in the ABBA company, it seemed pretty clear that the singer would only work with ABBA on specific projects from now on, but that she would mainly focus her attention on her individual career as a singer. Frida herself claims that she is still a member of ABBA, but for the group it would be very unwise - especially on a business level - to admit that they in fact don't exist anymore. It is obvious: a new future has started for Frida.

Hitkrant, 1984: Abbacadabra, a fairy-tale in videoland

In this festive new year's time, the first real ABBA musical 'Abbacadabra' had its premiere at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith in London. This fairy-like spectacle is part one of Björn and Benny's double project that won't be completed until the spring of 1985. We were in first row.

Björn and Benny are calling 'Abbacadabra' a musical adventure. It's a story about a couple of children playing a video game, in which they have to take a number of characters to the castle of the good fairy, while all of a sudden meeting these fairy-tale figures in reality. To stage this big spectacle, Björn and Benny made an appeal to a number of well-known employees. A familiar face was recruited for the female lead: Elaine Paige, the British girl that was about to give up her singing and acting career for a job as a nurse. When she suddenly succeeded in getting the leading role of Evita in Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice's musical, she realised that her future actually was in show business.
Apart from Elaine, B.A. Robertson is playing an important part in 'Abbacadabra' too. Things had been very quiet around this Scottish singer since his 1979 hit record 'Bang Bang'. And except for his striking nose, he actually seemed to be completely forgotten. So he was over the moon when he found out that Björn and Benny were looking for the leading male part in 'Abbacadabra' and they actually had him in mind for the job. I'm sure we won't have to introduce the third eye-catcher in 'Abbacadabra'. Indeed, Finola Hughes is the fantastic dancer John Travolta falls in love with in 'Staying Alive'.
The music for 'Abbacadabra' was composed completely by the magic ABBA composers duo. The repertoire not only consists of well-known ABBA songs but a number of songs have been composed especially for the occasion. Mike Batt was hired for the orchestration of the project. You might recognise his name from Art Garfunkel's beautiful ballad 'Bright Eyes'. The interest for the first few performances of the show in London was overwhelming. That's undoubtedly an encouraging sign for Björn and Benny who now are very busy with their next musical 'Chess' of which a double album is planned to be released in the autumn of 1984. For the live performance of 'Chess' we will have to be patient until early '85. But there's no doubt about it, 'Abbacadabra' and 'Chess' will probably turn out to be extremely successful, just like ABBA's previous projects.

Elaine Paige/'Like An Angel Passing By'/Polydor 817 2887
This song was released under the title 'My Love, My Life' on the ABBA album 'Arrival'. Now it is featured in 'Abbacadabra' with adapted lyrics and performed by Elaine Paige. I think it completely falls flat. It's almost a violation of the original version. I wonder what Agnetha - who sings the original version - thinks of this bad cover version.

Sunday, 5 May 2013