The path to fame was paved by Abba’s chance encounter

The Hootenanny Singers folk act, which includes Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson as singer, had heard a lot about Sweden’s top band The Hep Stars but never actually met them. Bjorn and his band were already on the way, but Benny had just finished playing and was off to another gig. They stopped to greet the Hootenanny Singers and invited them to The Hep Stars’ party that night, which was a goodbye bash for their year of national service.


Bjorn recalled that “we never expected them to be there, as it would have been quite a journey for them.” Never one to be late for a party, the Hep Stars were determined to attend. They misunderstood the name of the village and were forced to drive 150 miles. They realized their error and drove to another town, arriving at 2 a.m. to see the party going on.


They instantly hit it off. The most important thing was the special connection that formed between the two writers of the respective bands. Bjorn, Benny and their guitars ended up on a bench in the park playing Beatles songs till dawn. They both aspired to be successful songwriters like John Lennon or Paul McCartney.


Benny recalled that all they said was “Perhaps, we could try writing something together at one point?”


Three weeks later, while on a military break, the chance presented itself. The melody was completed by the two of them in Vastervik (where Bjorn lived with his family), after several hours. Bjorn came up with the lyrics and Benny was able to complete them. This was the first Andersson/Ulvaeus composition.

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Bjorn was born in 1945, on the island Hisingen. It is the place where Volvo was founded. He tried to sell his sister, who was six years old, to one of his fellow workers at the shipyard.


After their 1974 Eurovision vi , Benny and Anni-Frid’s success, Agnetha, Bjorn, and Bjorn became pop stars around the world. (Image: Reuters).


Bjorn, who was 13 years old at the time, got his first acoustic instrument. His mother Aina didn’t like his playing. She said, “I would take off my jacket and go outside to escape the noise,”


He joined The West Bay Singers in high school. They entered the 1963 radio talent contest. Anni-Frid Lyngstad, 17, was one of their competitors. She was born to an 18-year old Norwegian girl Synni Lyngstad, and Alfred Haase (a German sergeant) who was stationed in Norway during World War II. Alfred, who was a rare commodity in 1945, won Synni’s love with a 2 kg sack of potatoes.


According to some reports, Alfred knew that his lover was pregnant and promised to return. However, he later claimed that he didn’t know and sent Synni letters without reply. Synni, who was an outsider, was shunned for having an unwed child with a German when Anni-Frid was due to be born in November 1945.


Anni, Synni’s mother took her baby to Sweden to give her a chance at rebuilding her life. Synni, devastated by the loss, tried to make it through and eventually followed her mother across the border. However, Synni died in 1947 from complications related to kidney disease at age 21.


Anni-Frid discovered comfort in music at the age of 13 and adopted Frida as her nickname and started singing. She joined Bengt Sandlund’s big band at 16 and was a member of a local dance group. There, she fell in love four years later with Ragnar Fredriksson.


Abba celebrating onstage after she won the Eurovision Song Contest 1974 Grand Final . (Image: Getty).


Hans was born to her in January 1963 at the age of 17 years. Ragnar and she married one year later. Ann Liselotte was born in 1967. Christina Gronvall fell pregnant with Hans Andersson at age 15.


She got married and gave birth in August 1963 to Peter. Benny was still just 16 years old and gave up his engineering apprenticeship. Christina and he joined a folk group while he sold household appliances door to door.


He considered returning to school after the group disbanded, but was then invited to join The Hep Stars, a rising pop band. After the group achieved fame nationally, Christina had a second baby, Helene. However, Benny was not allowed to tell his fans about his private life and they split in 1966.

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Frida tried to be a solo artist in March 1969.

She came in fourth place at the Swedish Eurovision Song Contest selections. However, she briefly met Benny Andersson while collaborating with Lars Berghagen (singer and songwriter). Jan Malmsjo performed the song.


They met again a few days later in Malmo with some other musicians including Bjorn. All of them returned to Bjorn’s and Bennys hotels, and Frida felt as if she had known Benny her whole life when she left.


Frida attempted to be a solo performer . (Image: PA).


Benny fell in love with her attractive brunette and infectious laugh. Although he was still with Anne, his Norwegian girlfriend of 15 years, he couldn’t resist the lure to have a short fling. Frida said that he was already in love with Anne, but it wasn’t until a while later did he feel the same way about her span>


Bjorn’s life was changed by another chance encounter in 1969. When he first saw Agnetha Faltskog in TV, it was while he was participating in a special. She is a beautiful Swedish singer and had achieved chart success in Sweden. Later, he said that he was in love with her the moment he first heard her sing.


He seized the opportunity to hold her hand while filming one scene. She said, “That was when I realized there was no turning back.” He was late for filming a solo song the next morning, but someone suggested that Agnetha be contacted. Bjorn, dazed by the noises made at her door, finally managed to open it slightly.


Red-faced, the singer arrived at the spot in no time and was able to sing his tune in just one take. Bjorn, Agnetha were married by the end of the TV special. They became close friends soon with Frida and Benny, who moved into a tiny apartment in Stockholm.


When others judged them because they “abandoned their families”, they supported one another.


The two of them left Cyprus for an eleven-day vacation on April 5, 1970. This was Agnetha’s 20th Birthday. Bjorn, Agnetha and their wedding took place in Cyprus. However, the experience was also significant because of another reason.


They all sang and played together for the first time. They performed live on an island for United Nations troops. The idea came about after they went down like a storm. After they began to tour, Agnetha married Bjorn the next year.


Every available officer in the police force was called upon to manage the crowd of 3,000 people who showed up after news broke about the wedding. A horse was seen standing on the foot of the bride, but Benny performed the Wedding March on his church organ. The chaos caused the ceremony to be canceled.


Both couples moved in to new houses on Vallentuna, a Stockholm suburb. They recorded their songs under the names Bjorn & Benny and Agnetha & AnniFrid. Benny and Bjorn believed that they had won the Eurovision Song Contest with Ring Ring, after several failed attempts to become Sweden’s entry. The song was a success, with the English and Swedish versions reaching number one and two respectively. However, it came in third place so the duo decided to give it another chance.


Agnetha, a woman who was pregnant with Linda in February 1973, declared it to be “the most joyful moment of her life”.

Manager Stig Anderson requested that they change their name from the more catchy ABBA to make them stand out. This was also the name for a seafood business. However, Benny and Bjorn felt the name “smelled like canned fish” before their Eurovision assault. A newspaper competition was held to identify a band name. The results were “Alibaba”, Baba, Friends and Neighbours.”


The boys admitted defeat and agreed to ABBA. Stig called the fish business to get its permission. The owner agreed, but only if the group didn’t damage his company. The British and Italian Ring Ring Singles were released October 1973, the first record ABBA was credited.


In 1979 , Abba performed at UN New York. (Image: Getty).



A few months later, ABBA secured entry into Eurovision with the new song Waterloo.


The idea was created by Manager Stig after he searched in a book full of quotes for a word with three syllables that would fit Benny’s and Bjorns music.


For the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, the Dome was selected in Brighton. ABBA booked a room in the Grand Hotel’s Napoleon Suite. They won the contest with 24 points despite scoring zero points against five other countries, including Great Britain.


Bjorn, Benny and other contestants were prevented from taking to the stage when it came time for the crowning of the winners by security guards. They claimed that only composers were allowed and did not consider them performers. Benny was able to get past the security guards, but Bjorn refused to be released. When it came time for him to sing the winner song, he was allowed onto stage.


Although ABBA celebrated their victory, it wasn’t all good news for everyone. Waterloo was reported to the performing right society by some people for plagiarising Build Me Up Buttercup, 1968 from The Foundations.


Although Benny and Bjorn dismissed these comparisons, a Swedish journalist condemned the band’s omission of the horror story about a war in which over 40,000 died.


It didn’t matter what it was. ABBA partied till 6am. Bjorn recalled, “I thought, “My God, yesterday, we were an unknown band, and tomorrow, the entire world is open for us.” Overnight, we’ve been .'”

* Adapted from Bright Lights Dark Shadows – The Real Story Of ABBA, by Douglas Wight (Omnibus), PS16.95

Publiated at Wed 15 Sep 2021, 08:15:59 +0000

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