1958–1970: Before ABBA
Member origins and collaboration(born 16 December 1946 in , Sweden) became (at age 18) a member of a popular Swedish pop-rock group, the , that performed covers, amongst other things, of international hits. The Hep Stars were known as "the Swedish ". They also set up Hep House, their equivalent of . Andersson played the keyboard and eventually started writing original songs for his band, many of which became major hits, including " ", which hit number three in 1965, and " ", " ", and " ", all of which hit number one in 1966. Andersson also had a fruitful songwriting collaboration with , with whom he wrote his first entry, "Sagan om lilla Sofie" ("The Story of Little Sophie") in 1968. Björn Ulvaeus (born 25 April 1945 in , Sweden) also began his musical career at the age of 18 (as a singer and guitarist), when he fronted the Hootenanny Singers, a popular Swedish – group. Ulvaeus started writing English-language songs for his group, and even had a brief solo career alongside. The Hootenanny Singers and the Hep Stars sometimes crossed paths while touring. In June 1966, Ulvaeus and Andersson decided to write a song together. Their first attempt was "Isn't It Easy to Say", a song was later recorded by the Hep Stars. was the manager of the Hootenanny Singers and founder of the label. He saw potential in the collaboration, and encouraged them to write more. The two also began playing occasionally with the other's bands on stage and on record, although it was not until 1969 that the pair wrote and produced some of their first real hits together: " Ljuva sextital" ("Sweet Sixties"), recorded by Brita Borg, and the Hep Stars' 1969 hit "Speleman" ("Fiddler"). Andersson wrote and submitted the song "Hej, Clown" for Melodifestivalen 1969, the national festival to select the Swedish entry to the . The song tied for first place, but re-voting relegated Andersson's song to second place. On that occasion Andersson briefly met his future spouse, singer , who also participated in the contest. A month later, the two had become a couple. As their respective bands began to break up during 1969, Andersson and Ulvaeus teamed up and recorded their first album together in 1970, called '' '' ("Happiness"), which included original songs sung by both men. Their partners were often present in the recording studio, and sometimes added backing vocals; Fältskog even co-wrote a song with the two. Ulvaeus still occasionally recorded and performed with the Hootenanny Singers until the middle of 1974, and Andersson took part in producing their records. (born 15 November 1945 in Bjørkåsen in , Norway) sang from the age of 13 with various dance bands, and worked mainly in a jazz-oriented cabaret style. She also formed her own band, the Anni-Frid Four. In the middle of 1967, she won a national talent competition with "En ledig dag" ("A Day Off") a Swedish version of the bossa nova song "A Day in Portofino", which is included in the EMI compilation '' Frida 1967–1972''. The first prize was a recording contract with Sweden and to perform live on the most popular TV shows in the country. This TV performance, amongst many others, is included in the 3½-hour documentary '' Frida – The DVD''. Lyngstad released several style singles on EMI without much success. When Benny Andersson started to produce her recordings in 1971, she had her first number-one single, "Min egen stad" ("My Own Town"), written by Benny and featuring all the future ABBA members on backing vocals. Lyngstad toured and performed regularly in the folkpark circuit and made appearances on radio and TV. She met Ulvaeus briefly in 1963 during a talent contest, and Fältskog during a TV show in early 1968. Lyngstad linked up with her future bandmates in 1969. On 1 March 1969, she participated in the Melodifestival, where she met Andersson for the first time. A few weeks later they met again during a concert tour in southern Sweden and they soon became a couple. Andersson produced her single "Peter Pan" in September 1969—her first collaboration with Benny & Björn, as they had written the song. Andersson would then produce Lyngstad's debut studio album, '' '', which was released in March 1971. Lyngstad also played in several revues and cabaret shows in Stockholm between 1969 and 1973. After ABBA formed, she recorded another successful album in 1975, '' '', which included a Swedish rendition of " ", a hit on the Swedish radio charts before the English version was released. (born 5 April 1950 in , Sweden) sang with a local dance band headed by Bernt Enghardt who sent a demo recording of the band to Karl Gerhard Lundkvist. The demo tape featured a song written and sung by Agnetha: "Jag var så kär" ("I Was So in Love"). Lundkvist was so impressed with her voice that he was convinced she would be a star. After going through considerable effort to locate the singer, he arranged for Agnetha to come to Stockholm and to record two of her own songs. This led to Agnetha at the age of 18 having a number-one record in Sweden with a self-composed song, which later went on to sell over 80,000 copies. She was soon noticed by the critics and songwriters as a talented singer/songwriter of schlager style songs. Fältskog's main inspiration in her early years was singers such as . Along with her own compositions, she recorded covers of foreign hits and performed them on tours in Swedish s. Most of her biggest hits were self-composed, which was quite unusual for a female singer in the 1960s. Agnetha released four solo LPs between 1968 and 1971. She had many successful singles in the Swedish charts. During filming of a Swedish TV special in May 1969, Fältskog met Ulvaeus and they married on 6 July 1971. Fältskog and Ulvaeus eventually were involved in each other's recording sessions, and soon even Andersson and Lyngstad added backing vocals to Fältskog's third studio album, '' '' ("As I Am") (1970). In 1972, Fältskog starred as in the original Swedish production of '' '' and attracted favourable reviews. Between 1967 and 1975, Fältskog released five studio albums.
First live performance and the start of "Festfolket"An attempt at combining their talents occurred in April 1970 when the two couples went on holiday together to the island of . What started as singing for fun on the beach ended up as an improvised live performance in front of the United Nations soldiers stationed on the island. Andersson and Ulvaeus were at this time recording their first album together, ''Lycka'', which was to be released in September 1970. Fältskog and Lyngstad added backing vocals on several tracks during June, and the idea of their working together saw them launch a stage act, "Festfolket" (which translates from Swedish to "Party People" and in pronunciation also "engaged couples"), on 1 November 1970 in . The cabaret show attracted generally negative reviews, except for the performance of the Andersson and Ulvaeus hit "Hej, gamle man" ("Hello, Old Man")–the first Björn and Benny recording to feature all four. They also performed solo numbers from respective albums, but the lukewarm reception convinced the foursome to shelve plans for working together for the time being, and each soon concentrated on individual projects again.
First record together "Hej, gamle man""Hej, gamle man", a song about an old soldier, became the quartet's first hit. The record was credited to Björn & Benny and reached number five on the sales charts and number one on , staying on the latter chart (which was not a chart linked to sales or airplay) for 15 weeks. It was during 1971 that the four artists began working together more, adding vocals to the others' recordings. Fältskog, Andersson and Ulvaeus toured together in May, while Lyngstad toured on her own. Frequent recording sessions brought the foursome closer together during the summer.
1970–1973: Forming the groupAfter the 1970 release of ''Lycka'', two more singles credited to "Björn & Benny" were released in Sweden, "Det kan ingen doktor hjälpa" ("No Doctor Can Help with That") and "Tänk om jorden vore ung" ("Imagine If Earth Was Young"), with more prominent vocals by Fältskog and Lyngstad–and moderate chart success. Fältskog and Ulvaeus, now married, started performing together with Andersson on a regular basis at the Swedish folkparks in the middle of 1971. , founder and owner of , was determined to break into the mainstream international market with music by Andersson and Ulvaeus. "One day the pair of you will write a song that becomes a worldwide hit," he predicted. Stig Anderson encouraged Ulvaeus and Andersson to write a song for Melodifestivalen, and after two rejected entries in 1971, Andersson and Ulvaeus submitted their new song "Säg det med en sång" ("Say It with a Song") for the 1972 contest, choosing newcomer Lena Anderson to perform. The song came in third place, encouraging Stig Anderson, and became a hit in Sweden. The first signs of foreign success came as a surprise, as the Andersson and Ulvaeus single " She's My Kind of Girl" was released through in Japan in March 1972, giving the duo a Top 10 hit. Two more singles were released in Japan, "En Carousel" ("En Karusell" in Scandinavia, an earlier version of "Merry-Go-Round") and "Love Has Its Ways" (a song they wrote with Kōichi Morita).
First hit as Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid/FridaUlvaeus and Andersson persevered with their songwriting and experimented with new sounds and vocal arrangements. " People Need Love" was released in June 1972, featuring guest vocals by the women, who were now given much greater prominence. Stig Anderson released it as a single, credited to ''Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid''. The song peaked at number 17 in the Swedish combined single and album charts, enough to convince them they were on to something. The single also became the first record to chart for the quartet in the United States, where it peaked at number 114 on the '' Cashbox'' singles chart and number 117 on the '' '' singles chart. Labeled as ''Björn & Benny (with Svenska Flicka)'', it was released there through . According to Stig Anderson, "People Need Love" could have been a much bigger American hit, but a small label like Playboy Records did not have the distribution resources to meet the demand for the single from retailers and radio programmers.
"Ring Ring"In 1973, the band and their manager Stig Anderson decided to have another try at Melodifestivalen, this time with the song " Ring Ring". The studio sessions were handled by , who experimented with a " " production technique that became the wholly new sound. Stig Anderson arranged an English translation of the lyrics by and Phil Cody and they thought this would be a success. However, on 10 February 1973, the song came third in Melodifestivalen; thus it never reached the Eurovision Song Contest itself. Nevertheless, the group released their debut studio album, also called '' Ring Ring''. The album did well and the "Ring Ring" single was a hit in many parts of Europe and also in South Africa. However, Stig Anderson felt that the true breakthrough could only come with a UK or US hit. When Agnetha Fältskog gave birth to her daughter Linda in 1973, she was replaced for a short period by Inger Brundin on a trip to West Germany.
Official namingIn 1973, Stig Anderson, tired of unwieldy names, started to refer to the group privately and publicly as ABBA (a ). At first, this was a play on words, as is also the name of a well-known fish-canning company in Sweden, and itself an abbreviation. However, since the fish-canners were unknown outside Sweden, Anderson came to believe the name would work in international markets. A competition to find a suitable name for the group was held in a Gothenburg newspaper and it was officially announced in the summer that the group were to be known as "ABBA". The group negotiated with the canners for the rights to the name. reported for '' '' that Fältskog told him in a 1988 interview that " had to ask permission and the factory said, 'O.K., as long as you don't make us feel ashamed for what you're doing. "ABBA" is an formed from the first letters of each group member's first name: Agnetha, Björn, Benny, Anni-Frid. The earliest known example of "ABBA" written on paper is on a recording session sheet from the Metronome Studio in dated 16 October 1973. This was first written as "Björn, Benny, Agnetha & Frida", but was subsequently crossed out with "ABBA" written in large letters on top.
Official logoTheir official logo, distinct with the backward 'B', was designed by Rune Söderqvist, who designed most of ABBA's record sleeves. The first appeared on the French compilation album, Golden Double Album, released in May 1976 by , and would henceforth be used for all official releases. The idea for the official logo was made by the German photographer Wolfgang "Bubi" Heilemann ( de) on a velvet jumpsuit photo shoot for the teenage magazine . In the photo, the ABBA members held giant initial letters of their names. After the pictures were made, Heilemann found out that Benny Andersson reversed his letter "B"; this prompted discussions about the mirrored "B", and the members of ABBA agreed on the mirrored letter. From 1976 onward, the first "B" in the logo version of the name was "mirror-image" reversed on the band's promotional material, thus becoming the group's . Following their acquisition of the group's catalogue, PolyGram began using variations of the ABBA logo, employing a different font. In 1992, Polygram added a crown emblem to it for the first release of the ''ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits'' compilation. After Universal Music purchased PolyGram (and, thus, ABBA's label Polar Music International), control of the group's catalogue returned to Stockholm. Since then, the original logo has been reinstated on all official products.
Eurovision Song Contest 1974As the group entered the Melodifestivalen with " Ring Ring" but failed to qualify as the 1973 Swedish entry, Stig Anderson immediately started planning for the 1974 contest. Ulvaeus, Andersson and Stig Anderson believed in the possibilities of using the as a way to make the music business aware of them as songwriters, as well as the band itself. In late 1973, they were invited by Swedish television to contribute a song for the and from a number of new songs, the upbeat song " " was chosen; the group was now inspired by the growing scene in England. ABBA won their nation's hearts on Swedish television on 9 February 1974, and with this third attempt were far more experienced and better prepared for the Eurovision Song Contest. Winning the on 6 April 1974 (and singing "Waterloo" in English instead of their native tongue) gave ABBA the chance to tour Europe and perform on major television shows; thus the band saw the "Waterloo" single chart in many European countries. Following their success at the Eurovision Song Contest, ABBA spent an evening of glory partying in the appropriately named first-floor Napoleon suite of The Grand Brighton Hotel. "Waterloo" was ABBA's first major hit in numerous countries, becoming their first number-one single in nine western and northern European countries, including the big markets of the UK and West Germany, and in South Africa. It also made the top ten in several other countries, including rising to number three in Spain, number four in Australia and France, and number seven in Canada. In the United States, the song peaked at number six on the ''Billboard'' Hot 100 chart, paving the way for their first album and their first trip as a group there. Albeit a short promotional visit, it included their first performance on American television, '' ''. The album '' '' only peaked at number 145 on the ''Billboard'' 200 chart, but received unanimous high praise from the US critics: '' '' called it "a compelling and fascinating debut album that captures the spirit of mainstream pop quite effectively ... an immensely enjoyable and pleasant project", while '' '' characterised it as "a perfect blend of exceptional, lovable compositions". ABBA's follow-up single, " ", peaked at number 27 on the US ''Billboard'' Hot 100, reached the top twenty in several other countries, and was a number-two hit in West Germany although it only reached the top 30 in Australia and the US. In the United Kingdom, ABBA's British record label, Epic, decided to re-release a remixed version of "Ring Ring" instead of "Honey, Honey", and a cover version of the latter by Sweet Dreams peaked at number 10. Both records debuted on the UK chart within one week of each other. "Ring Ring" failed to reach the Top 30 in the United Kingdom, increasing growing speculation that the group was simply a Eurovision .
Post-EurovisionIn November 1974, ABBA embarked on their first European tour, playing dates in Denmark, West Germany and Austria. It was not as successful as the band had hoped, since most of the venues did not sell out. Due to a lack of demand, they were even forced to cancel a few shows, including a sole concert scheduled in Switzerland. The second leg of the tour, which took them through Scandinavia in January 1975, was very different. They played to full houses everywhere and finally got the reception they had aimed for. Live performances continued in the middle of 1975 when ABBA embarked on a fourteen open-air date tour of Sweden and Finland. Their show at the amusement park had an estimated audience of 19,200. Björn Ulvaeus later said that "If you look at the singles we released straight after Waterloo, we were trying to be more like , a semi-glam rock group, which was stupid because we were always a pop group." In late 1974, "So Long" was released as a single in the United Kingdom but it received no airplay from Radio 1 and failed to chart in the UK; the only countries in which it was successful were Austria, Sweden and Germany, reaching the top ten in the first two and number 21 in the latter. In the middle of 1975, ABBA released " ", which again received little airplay on Radio 1, but did manage to climb to number 38 on the UK chart, while making top five in several northern and western European countries, and number one in South Africa. Later that year, the release of their self-titled third studio album '' '' and single " " brought back their chart presence in the UK, where the single hit number six and the album peaked at number 13. "SOS" also became ABBA's second number-one single in Germany, their third in Australia and their first in France, plus reached number two in several other European countries, including Italy. Success was further solidified with " Mamma Mia" reaching number-one in the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia and the top two in a few other western and northern European countries. In the United States, both " " and " " peaked at number 15 on the ''Billboard'' Hot 100 chart, with the latter picking up the BMI Award along the way as one of the most played songs on American radio in 1975. "Mamma Mia", however, stalled at number 32. In Canada, the three songs rose to number 12, nine and 18, respectively. The success of the group in the United States had until that time been limited to single releases. By early 1976, the group already had four Top 30 singles on the US charts, but the album market proved to be tough to crack. The eponymous ''ABBA '' album generated three American hits, but it only peaked at number 165 on the ''Cashbox'' album chart and number 174 on the ''Billboard'' 200 chart. Opinions were voiced, by ''Creem'' in particular, that in the US ABBA had endured "a very sloppy promotional campaign". Nevertheless, the group enjoyed warm reviews from the American press. '' Cashbox'' went as far as saying that "there is a recurrent thread of taste and artistry inherent in Abba's marketing, creativity and presentation that makes it almost embarrassing to critique their efforts", while ''Creem'' wrote: "SOS is surrounded on this LP by so many good tunes that the mind boggles." In Australia, the airing of the music videos for "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" and "Mamma Mia" on the nationally broadcast TV pop show '' '' (which premiered in November 1974) saw the band rapidly gain enormous popularity, and ''Countdown'' become a key promoter of the group via their distinctive music videos. This started an immense interest for ABBA in Australia, resulting in "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" staying at number one for three weeks, then "SOS" spending a week there, followed by "Mamma Mia" staying there for ten weeks, and the album holding down the number one position for months. The three songs were also successful in nearby New Zealand with the first two topping that chart and the third reaching number two.
''Greatest Hits'' and ''Arrival''In March 1976, the band released the compilation album '' ''. It became their first UK number-one album, and also took ABBA into the Top 50 on the US album charts for the first time, eventually selling more than a million copies there. Also included on '' '' was a new single, " ", which went to number-one in at least thirteen countries all over the world, including the UK, Germany, France, Australia, South Africa and Mexico, and the top five in most other significant markets, including, at number four, becoming their biggest hit to date in Canada; the single went on to sell over 10 million copies worldwide. In Australia, "Fernando" occupied the top position for a then record breaking 14 weeks (and stayed in the chart for 40 weeks), and was the longest-running chart-topper there for over 40 years until it was overtaken by 's " " in May 2017. It still remains as one of the best-selling singles of all time in Australia. Also in 1976, the group received its first international prize, with "Fernando" being chosen as the "Best Studio Recording of 1975". In the United States, "Fernando" reached the Top 10 of the Cashbox Top 100 singles chart and number 13 on the ''Billboard'' Hot 100. It topped the ''Billboard'' Adult Contemporary chart, ABBA's first American number-one single on any chart. At the same time, a compilation named ''The Very Best of ABBA'' was released in Germany, becoming a number-one album there whereas the ''Greatest Hits'' compilation which followed a few months later ascended to number two in Germany, despite all similarities with ''The Very Best'' album. The group's fourth studio album, '' Arrival'', a number-one best-seller in parts of Europe, the UK and Australia, and a number-three hit in Canada and Japan, represented a new level of accomplishment in both songwriting and studio work, prompting rave reviews from more rock-oriented UK music weeklies such as '' '' and '' '', and mostly appreciative notices from US critics. Hit after hit flowed from ''Arrival'': " ", another number-one in Germany, France, Australia and other countries of western and northern Europe, plus number two in the UK; and, " ", ABBA's sixth consecutive German number-one, as well as another UK number-one, plus a top five hit in many other countries, although it was only a number nine hit in Australia and France. The real sensation was the first single, " ", not only topping the charts in loyal markets like the UK, Germany, Sweden, several other western and northern European countries, and Australia, but also reaching number-one in the United States, Canada, the Soviet Union and Japan, and the top ten in France, Spain and Italy. All three songs were number-one hits in Mexico. In South Africa, ABBA had astounding success with each of "Fernando", "Dancing Queen" and "Knowing Me, Knowing You" being among the top 20 best-selling singles for 1976–77. In 1977, ''Arrival'' was nominated for the inaugural in the category "Best International Album of the Year". By this time ABBA were popular in the UK, most of Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. In ''Frida – The DVD'', Lyngstad explains how she and Fältskog developed as singers, as ABBA's recordings grew more complex over the years. The band's popularity in the United States would remain on a comparatively smaller scale, and "Dancing Queen" became the only ''Billboard'' Hot 100 number-one single ABBA with "Knowing Me, Knowing You" later peaking at number seven; "Money, Money, Money", however, had barely charted there or in Canada (where "Knowing Me, Knowing You" had reached number five). They did, however, get three more singles to the number-one position on other ''Billboard'' US charts, including ''Billboard'' Adult Contemporary and ). Nevertheless, ''Arrival'' finally became a true breakthrough release for ABBA on the US album market where it peaked at number 20 on the ''Billboard'' 200 chart and was certified gold by .
European and Australian tourIn January 1977, ABBA embarked on their first major tour. The group's status had changed dramatically and they were clearly regarded as superstars. They opened their much anticipated tour in , Norway, on 28 January, and mounted a lavishly produced spectacle that included a few scenes from their self-written mini-operetta ''The Girl with the Golden Hair''. The concert attracted immense media attention from across Europe and Australia. They continued the tour through Western Europe, visiting , Copenhagen, Berlin, , Amsterdam, , , , and and ending with shows in the United Kingdom in , Birmingham, Glasgow and two sold-out concerts at London's . Tickets for these two shows were available only by mail application and it was later revealed that the box-office received 3.5 million requests for tickets, enough to fill the venue 580 times. Along with praise ("ABBA turn out to be amazingly successful at reproducing their records", wrote '' ''), there were complaints that "ABBA performed slickly...but with a zero personality coming across from a total of 16 people on stage" ('' ''). One of the Royal Albert Hall concerts was filmed as a reference for the filming of the Australian tour for what became '' ABBA: The Movie'', though it is not exactly known how much of the concert was filmed. After the European leg of the tour, in March 1977, ABBA played 11 dates in Australia before a total of 160,000 people. The opening concert in Sydney at the Sydney Showground on 3 March to an audience of 20,000 was marred by torrential rain with Lyngstad slipping on the wet stage during the concert. However, all four members would later recall this concert as the most memorable of their career. Upon their arrival in , a civic reception was held at the and ABBA appeared on the balcony to greet an enthusiastic crowd of 6,000. In Melbourne, the group gave three concerts at the with 14,500 at each including the Australian Prime Minister and his family. At the first Melbourne concert, an additional 16,000 people gathered outside the fenced-off area to listen to the concert. In , the group performed one concert at West Lakes Football Stadium in front of 20,000 people, with another 10,000 listening outside. During the first of five concerts in Perth, there was a bomb scare with everyone having to evacuate the Entertainment Centre. The trip was accompanied by mass hysteria and unprecedented media attention ("Swedish ABBA stirs box-office in Down Under tour...and the media coverage of the quartet rivals that set to cover the upcoming Royal tour of Australia", wrote '' ''), and is captured on film in '' ABBA: The Movie'', directed by . The Australian tour and its subsequent ''ABBA: The Movie'' produced some ABBA lore, as well. Fältskog's blonde good looks had long made her the band's "pin-up girl", a role she disdained. During the Australian tour, she performed in a skin-tight white jumpsuit, causing one Australian newspaper to use the headline "Agnetha's bottom tops dull show". When asked about this at a news conference, she replied: "Don't they have bottoms in Australia?"
''ABBA: The Album''In December 1977, ABBA followed up ''Arrival'' with the more ambitious fifth album, '' ABBA: The Album'', released to coincide with the debut of ''ABBA: The Movie''. Although the album was less well received by UK reviewers, it did spawn more worldwide hits: " The Name of the Game" and " Take a Chance on Me", which both topped the UK charts and racked up impressive sales in most countries, although "The Name of the Game" was generally the more successful in the Nordic countries and Down Under, while "Take a Chance on Me" was more successful in North America and the German-speaking countries. "The Name of the Game" was a number two hit in the Netherlands, Begium and Sweden while also making the Top 5 in Finland, Norway, New Zealand and Australia, while only peaking at numbers 10, 12 and 15 in Mexico, the US and Canada. "Take a Chance on Me" was a number one hit in Austria, Belgium and Mexico, made the Top 3 in the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, while only reaching numbers 12 and 14 in Australia and New Zealand, respectively. Both songs were Top 10 hits in countries as far afield as Rhodesia and South Africa, as well as in France. Although "Take a Chance on Me" did not top the American charts, it proved to be ABBA's biggest hit single there, selling more copies than "Dancing Queen". The drop in sales in Australia was felt to be inevitable by industry observers as an "Abba-Fever" that had existed there for almost three years could only last so long as adolescents would naturally begin to move away a group so deified by both their parents and grandparents. A third single, " , was released in continental Europe and Down Under becoming a number one hit in Begium and a Top 10 hit in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and South Africa, but barely charting Down Under. The B-side of "Eagle" was "Thank You for the Music", and it was belatedly released as an A-side single in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 1983. "Thank You for the Music" has become one of the best loved and best known ABBA songs without being released as a single during the group's lifetime. ''ABBA: The Album'' topped the album charts in the UK, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, while ascending to the Top 5 in Australia, Germany, Austria, Finland and Rhodesia, and making the Top 10 in Canada and Japan. Sources also indicate that sales in Poland exceeded 1 million copies and that sales demand in Russia could not be met by the supply available. The album peaked at number 14 in the US.
Polar Music Studio formationBy 1978, ABBA were one of the biggest bands in the world. They converted a vacant cinema into the Studio, a state-of-the-art studio in . The studio was used by several other bands; notably Genesis (band), Genesis' ''Duke (album), Duke'' and Led Zeppelin's ''In Through the Out Door'' were recorded there. During May 1978, the group went to the United States for a promotional campaign, performing alongside Andy Gibb on Olivia Newton-John's TV show. Recording sessions for the single "Summer Night City" were an uphill struggle, but upon release the song became another hit for the group. The track would set the stage for ABBA's foray into disco with their next album. On 9 January 1979, the group performed "Chiquitita" at the Music for UNICEF Concert held at the United Nations General Assembly to celebrate UNICEF's Year of the Child. ABBA donated the copyright of this worldwide hit to the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF; see Music for UNICEF Concert. The single was released the following week, and reached number-one in ten countries.
North American and European toursIn mid-January 1979, Ulvaeus and Fältskog announced they were getting divorced. The news caused interest from the media and led to speculation about the band's future. ABBA assured the press and their fan base they were continuing their work as a group and that the divorce would not affect them. Nonetheless, the media continued to confront them with this in interviews. To escape the media swirl and concentrate on their writing, Andersson and Ulvaeus secretly travelled to Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, where for two weeks they prepared their next album's songs. The group's sixth studio album, ''Voulez-Vous'', was released in April 1979, with its title track recorded at the famous Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida, with the assistance of recording engineer Tom Dowd amongst others. The album topped the charts across Europe and in Japan and Mexico, hit the Top 10 in Canada and Australia and the Top 20 in the US. While none of the singles from the album reached number one on the UK chart, the lead single, "Chiquitita", and the fourth single, "I Have a Dream (song), I Have a Dream", both ascended to number two, and the other two, "Does Your Mother Know" and "Angeleyes" (with "Voulez-Vous (song), Voulez-Vous", released as a double A-side) both made the top 5. All four singles reached number one in Belgium, although the latter three did not chart in Sweden or Norway. "Chiquitita", which was featured in the ''Music for UNICEF Concert'' after which ABBA decided to donate half of the royalties from the song to UNICEF, topped the singles charts in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, Spain, Mexico, South Africa, Rhodesia and New Zealand, rose to number two in Sweden, and made the Top 5 in Germany, Austria, Norway and Australia, although it only reached number 29 in the US. "I Have a Dream" was a sizable hit reaching number one in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Austria, number three in South Africa, and number four in Germany, although it only reached number 64 in Australia. In Canada, "I Have a Dream" became ABBA's second number one on the RPM Adult Contemporary chart (after "Fernando" hit the top previously) although it did not chart in the US. "Does Your Mother Know", a rare song in which Ulvaeus sings lead vocals, was a Top 5 hit in the Netherlands and Finland, and a Top 10 hit in Germany, Switzerland, Australia, although it only reached number number 27 in New Zealand. It did better in North America than "Chiquitita", reaching number 12 in Canada and number 19 in the US, and made the Top 20 in Japan. "Voulez-Vous" was a Top 10 hit in the Netherlands and Switzerland, a Top 20 hit in Germany and Finland, but only peaked in the 80s in Australia, Canada and the US. Also in 1979, the group released their second compilation album, ''Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (ABBA album), Greatest Hits Vol. 2'', which featured a brand new track: "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)", which was a Top 3 hit in the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Finland and Norway, and returned ABBA to the Top 10 in Australia. ''Greatest Hits Vol. 2'' went to number one in the UK, Belgium, Canada and Japan while making the Top 5 in several other countries, but only reaching number 20 in Australia and number 46 in the US. In Russia during the late 1970s, the group was paid in oil commodities because of an embargo on the Soviet ruble, ruble. On 13 September 1979, ABBA began ABBA: The Tour at Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton, Canada, with a full house of 14,000. "The voices of the band, Agnetha's high sauciness combined with round, rich lower tones of Anni-Frid, were excellent...Technically perfect, melodically correct and always in perfect pitch...The soft lower voice of Anni-Frid and the high, edgy vocals of Agnetha were stunning", raved ''Edmonton Journal''. During the next four weeks they played a total of 17 sold-out dates, 13 in the United States and four in Canada. The last scheduled ABBA concert in the United States in Washington, D.C. was cancelled due to Fältskog's emotional distress suffered during the flight from New York to Boston, when the group's private plane was subjected to Windsor Locks, Connecticut Tornado, extreme weather conditions and was unable to land for an extended period. They appeared at the Citi Performing Arts Center, Boston Music Hall for the performance 90 minutes late. The tour ended with a show in Toronto, Canada at Maple Leaf Gardens before a capacity crowd of 18,000. "ABBA plays with surprising power and volume; but although they are loud, they're also clear, which does justice to the signature vocal sound...Anyone who's been waiting five years to see Abba will be well satisfied", wrote '' ''. On 19 October 1979, the tour resumed in Western Europe where the band played 23 sold-out gigs, including six sold-out nights at London's Wembley Arena.
ProgressionIn March 1980, ABBA travelled to Japan where upon their arrival at Narita International Airport, they were besieged by thousands of fans. The group performed eleven concerts to full houses, including six shows at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan, Budokan. This tour was the last "on the road" adventure of their career. In July 1980, ABBA released the single "The Winner Takes It All", the group's eighth UK chart topper (and their first since 1978). The song is widely misunderstood as being written about Ulvaeus and Fältskog's marital tribulations; Ulvaeus wrote the lyrics, but has stated they were not about his own divorce; Fältskog has repeatedly stated she was not the loser in their divorce. In the United States, the single peaked at number-eight on the ''Billboard'' Hot 100 chart and became ABBA's second ''Billboard'' Adult Contemporary number-one. It was also re-recorded by Andersson and Ulvaeus with a slightly different backing track, by French chanteuse Mireille Mathieu at the end of 1980 – as "Bravo tu as gagné", with French lyrics by Alain Boublil. November the same year saw the release of ABBA's seventh album ''Super Trouper (album), Super Trouper'', which reflected a certain change in ABBA's style with more prominent use of synthesizers and increasingly personal lyrics. It set a record for the most pre-orders ever received for a UK album after one million copies were ordered before release. The second single from the album, "Super Trouper (song), Super Trouper", also hit number-one in the UK, becoming the group's ninth and final UK chart-topper. Another track from the album, "Lay All Your Love on Me", released in 1981 as a Twelve-inch single only in selected territories, managed to top the ''Billboard'' Hot Dance Club Play chart and peaked at number-seven on the UK singles chart becoming, at the time, the highest ever charting 12-inch release in UK chart history. Also in 1980, ABBA recorded a compilation of Spanish-language versions of their hits called ''Gracias Por La Música (album), Gracias Por La Música''. This was released in Spanish-speaking countries as well as in Japan and Australia. The album became a major success, and along with the Spanish version of "Chiquitita", this signalled the group's breakthrough in Latin America. ''ABBA Oro: Grandes Éxitos'', the Spanish equivalent of ''ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits'', was released in 1999.
1981–1982: ''The Visitors'' and later performancesIn January 1981, Ulvaeus married Lena Källersjö, and manager Stig Anderson celebrated his 50th birthday with a party. For this occasion, ABBA recorded the track "Hovas Vittne" (a pun on the Swedish name for Jehovah's Witness and Anderson's birthplace, Hova, Sweden, Hova) as a tribute to him, and released it only on 200 red vinyl copies, to be distributed to the guests attending the party. This single has become a sought-after collectable. In mid-February 1981, Andersson and Lyngstad announced they were filing for divorce. Information surfaced that their marriage had been an uphill struggle for years, and Benny had already met another woman, Mona Nörklit, whom he married in November 1981. Andersson and Ulvaeus had songwriting sessions in early 1981, and recording sessions began in mid-March. At the end of April, the group recorded a TV special, ''Dick Cavett Meets ABBA'' with the US talk show host Dick Cavett. ''The Visitors (ABBA album), The Visitors'', ABBA's eighth and final studio album, showed a songwriting maturity and depth of feeling distinctly lacking from their earlier recordings but still placing the band squarely in the pop genre, with catchy tunes and harmonies. Although not revealed at the time of its release, the album's title track, according to Ulvaeus, refers to the secret meetings held against the approval of totalitarian governments in Soviet-dominated states, while other tracks address topics like failed relationships, the threat of war, aging, and loss of innocence. The album's only major single release, "One of Us (ABBA song), One of Us", proved to be the last of ABBA's nine number-one singles in Germany, this being in December 1981; and the swansong of their sixteen Top 5 singles on the South African chart. "One of Us" was also ABBA's final Top 3 hit in the UK, reaching number-three on the UK Singles Chart. Although it topped the album charts across most of Europe, including Ireland, the UK and Germany, ''The Visitors'' was not as commercially successful as its predecessors, showing a commercial decline in previously loyal markets such as France, Australia and Japan. A track from the album, "When All Is Said and Done (song), When All Is Said and Done", was released as a single in North America, Australia and New Zealand, and fittingly became ABBA's final Top 40 hit in the US (debuting on the US charts on 31 December 1981), while also reaching the US Adult Contemporary Top 10, and number-four on the RPM Adult Contemporary chart in Canada. The song's lyrics, as with "The Winner Takes It All" and "One of Us", dealt with the painful experience of separating from a long-term partner, though it looked at the trauma more optimistically. With the now publicised story of Andersson and Lyngstad's divorce, speculation increased of tension within the band. Also released in the United States was the title track of ''The Visitors'', which hit the Top Ten on the ''Billboard'' Hot Dance Club Play chart.
Later recording sessionsIn the spring of 1982, songwriting sessions had started and the group came together for more recordings. Plans were not completely clear, but a new album was discussed and the prospect of a small tour suggested. The recording sessions in May and June 1982 were a struggle, and only three songs were eventually recorded: "You Owe Me One", "I Am the City" and "Just Like That". Andersson and Ulvaeus were not satisfied with the outcome, so the tapes were shelved and the group took a break for the summer. Back in the studio again in early August, the group had changed plans for the rest of the year: they settled for a Christmas release of a double album compilation of all their past single releases to be named ''The Singles: The First Ten Years''. New songwriting and recording sessions took place, and during October and December, they released the singles "The Day Before You Came"/"Cassandra (ABBA song), Cassandra" and "Under Attack"/"You Owe Me One", the A-sides of which were included on the compilation album. Neither single made the Top 20 in the United Kingdom, though "The Day Before You Came" became a Top 5 hit in many European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. The album went to number one in the UK and Belgium, Top 5 in the Netherlands and Germany and Top 20 in many other countries. "Under Attack", the group's final release before disbanding, was a Top 5 hit in the Netherlands and Belgium. "I Am the City" and "Just Like That" were left unreleased on ''The Singles: The First Ten Years'' for possible inclusion on the next projected studio album, though this never came to fruition. "I Am the City" was eventually released on the compilation album ''More Gold: More Hits, More ABBA Gold'' in 1993, while "Just Like That" has been recycled in new songs with other artists produced by Andersson and Ulvaeus. A reworked version of the verses ended up in the musical ''Chess (musical), Chess''. The chorus section of "Just Like That" was eventually released on a retrospective box set in 1994, as well as in the ''ABBA Undeleted'' medley featured on disc 9 of ''The Complete Studio Recordings''. Despite a number of requests from fans, Ulvaeus and Andersson are still refusing to release ABBA's version of "Just Like That" in its entirety, even though the complete version has surfaced on bootlegs. The group travelled to London to promote ''The Singles: The First Ten Years'' in the first week of November 1982, appearing on ''Saturday Superstore'' and ''The Late, Late Breakfast Show'', and also to West Germany in the second week, to perform on Show Express. On 19 November 1982, ABBA appeared for the last time in Sweden on the TV programme Nöjesmaskinen, and on 11 December 1982, they made their last performance ever, transmitted to the UK on Noel Edmonds' ''The Late, Late Breakfast Show'', through a live link from a TV studio in .
Later performancesAndersson and Ulvaeus began collaborating with Tim Rice in early 1983 on writing songs for the musical project ''Chess (musical), Chess'', while Fältskog and Lyngstad both concentrated on international solo careers. While Andersson and Ulvaeus were working on the musical, a further co-operation among the three of them came with the musical ''Abbacadabra'' that was produced in France for television. It was a children's musical utilising 14 ABBA songs. Alain Boublil, Alain and Daniel Boublil, who wrote ''Les Misérables (musical), Les Misérables'', had been in touch with Stig Anderson about the project, and the TV musical was aired over Christmas on French TV and later a Dutch version was also broadcast. Boublil previously also wrote the French lyric for Mireille Mathieu's version of "The Winner Takes It All". Lyngstad, who had recently moved to Paris, participated in the French version, and recorded a single, "Belle", a duet with French singer Daniel Balavoine. The song was a cover of ABBA's 1976 instrumental track "Arrival (song), Arrival". As the single "Belle" sold well in France, Cameron Mackintosh wanted to stage an English-language version of the show in London, with the French lyrics translated by David Wood (actor), David Wood and Don Black (lyricist), Don Black; Andersson and Ulvaeus got involved in the project, and contributed with one new song, "I Am the Seeker". "Abbacadabra" premiered on 8 December 1983 at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in London, to mixed reviews and full houses for eight weeks, closing on 21 January 1984. Lyngstad was also involved in this production, recording "Belle" in English as "Time", a duet with actor and singer B. A. Robertson: the single sold well, and was produced and recorded by Mike Batt. In May 1984, Lyngstad performed "I Have a Dream" with a children's choir at the United Nations Organisation Gala, in Geneva, Switzerland. All four members made their (at the time, final) public appearance as four friends more than as ABBA in January 1986, when they recorded a video of themselves performing an acoustic version of "Tivedshambo" (which was the first song written by their manager Stig Anderson), for a Swedish TV show honouring Anderson on his 55th birthday. The four had not seen each other for more than two years. That same year they also performed privately at another friend's 40th birthday: their old tour manager, Claes af Geijerstam. They sang a self-written song titled "Der Kleine Franz" that was later to resurface in ''Chess''. Also in 1986, ''ABBA Live'' was released, featuring selections of live performances from the group's 1977 and 1979 tours. The four members were guests at the 50th birthday of Görel Hanser in 1999. Hanser was a long-time friend of all four, and also former secretary of Stig Anderson. Honouring Görel, ABBA performed a Swedish birthday song "Med En Enkel Tulipan" a cappella. Andersson has on several occasions performed ABBA songs. In June 1992, he and Ulvaeus appeared with U2 at a Stockholm concert, singing the chorus of " ", and a few years later during the final performance of the B & B in Concert in Stockholm, Andersson joined the cast for an encore at the piano. Andersson frequently adds an ABBA song to the playlist when he performs with his Benny Anderssons Orkester, BAO band. He also played the piano during new recordings of the ABBA songs "Like an Angel Passing Through My Room" with opera singer Anne Sofie von Otter, and "When All Is Said and Done" with Swede Viktoria Tolstoy. In 2002, Andersson and Ulvaeus both performed an a cappella rendition of the first verse of "Fernando" as they accepted their Ivor Novello award in London. Lyngstad performed and recorded an a cappella version of "Dancing Queen" with the Swedish group the Real Group in 1993, and also re-recorded "I Have a Dream" with Swiss singer Dan Daniell in 2003.
Break and reunionABBA never officially announced the end of the group or an indefinite break, but it was long considered dissolved after their final public performance together in 1982. Their final public performance together as ABBA before their 2016 reunion was on the British TV programme ''The Late, Late Breakfast Show'' (live from Stockholm) on 11 December 1982. While reminiscing on "The Day Before You Came", Ulvaeus said: "we might have continued for a while longer if that had been a number one". In January 1983, Fältskog started recording sessions for a solo album, as Lyngstad had successfully released her album ''Something's Going On'' some months earlier. Ulvaeus and Andersson, meanwhile, started songwriting sessions for the musical ''Chess''. In interviews at the time, Björn and Benny denied the split of ABBA ("Who are we without our ladies? Initials of Brigitte Bardot?"), and Lyngstad and Fältskog kept claiming in interviews that ABBA would come together for a new album repeatedly during 1983 and 1984. Internal strife between the group and their manager escalated and the band members sold their shares in during 1983. Except for a TV appearance in 1986, the foursome did not come together publicly again until they were reunited at the Swedish premiere of the ''Mamma Mia! (film), Mamma Mia!'' movie on 4 July 2008. The individual members' endeavours shortly before and after their final public performance coupled with the collapse of both marriages and the lack of significant activity in the following few years after that widely suggested that the group had broken up. In an interview with the ''Sunday Telegraph'', following the premiere, Ulvaeus and Andersson said that there was nothing that could entice them back on stage again. Ulvaeus said: "We will never appear on stage again. [...] There is simply no motivation to re-group. Money is not a factor and we would like people to remember us as we were. Young, exuberant, full of energy and ambition. I remember Robert Plant saying Led Zeppelin were a cover band now because they cover all their own stuff. I think that hit the nail on the head." However, on 3 January 2011, Fältskog, long considered to be the most reclusive member of the group and a major obstacle to any reunion, raised the possibility of reuniting for a one-off engagement. She admitted that she has not yet brought the idea up to the other three members. In April 2013, she reiterated her hopes for reunion during an interview with ''Die Zeit'', stating: "If they ask me, I'll say yes." In a May 2013 interview, Fältskog, aged 63 at the time, stated that an ABBA reunion would never occur: "I think we have to accept that it will not happen, because we are too old and each one of us has their own life. Too many years have gone by since we stopped, and there's really no meaning in putting us together again". Fältskog further explained that the band members remained on amicable terms: "It's always nice to see each other now and then and to talk a little and to be a little nostalgic." In an April 2014 interview, Fältskog, when asked about whether the band might reunite for a new recording said: "It's difficult to talk about this because then all the news stories will be: 'ABBA is going to record another song!' But as long as we can sing and play, then why not? I would love to, but it's up to Björn and Benny."
Resurgence of public interestThe same year the members of ABBA went their separate ways, the French production of a "tribute" show (a children's TV musical named ''Abbacadabra'' using 14 ABBA songs) spawned new interest in the group's music. After receiving little attention during the mid-to-late-1980s, ABBA's music experienced a resurgence in the early 1990s due to the UK synth-pop duo Erasure, who released ''Abba-esque'', a four track extended play release featuring cover versions of ABBA songs which topped several European charts in 1992. As U2 arrived in for a concert in June of that year, the band paid homage to ABBA by inviting Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson to join them on stage for a rendition of "Dancing Queen", playing guitar and keyboards. September 1992 saw the release of ''Gold: Greatest Hits (ABBA album), ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits'', a new compilation album. The single " " received radio airplay in the UK in the middle of 1992 to promote the album. The song returned to the Top 20 of the UK singles chart in August that year, this time peaking at number 16. With sales of 30 million, ''Gold'' is the best-selling ABBA album, as well as one of the List of best-selling albums, best-selling albums worldwide. With sales of 5.5 million copies it is the List of best-selling albums in the United Kingdom, second-highest selling album of all time in the UK, after Queen (band), Queen's ''Greatest Hits (Queen album), Greatest Hits''. The enormous interest in the ''ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits'' compilation saw the release of ''More ABBA Gold: More ABBA Hits'' in 1993. In 1994, two Australian cult films caught the attention of the world's media, both focusing on admiration for ABBA: ''The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert'' and ''Muriel's Wedding''. The same year, ''Thank You for the Music (album), Thank You for the Music'', a four-disc box set comprising all the group's hits and stand-out album tracks, was released with the involvement of all four members. "By the end of the twentieth century," American critic Chuck Klosterman wrote a decade later, "it was far more contrarian to hate ABBA than to love them."
2016–present: Reunion and upcoming avatars projectOn 20 January 2016, all four members of ABBA made a public appearance at ''Mamma Mia! The Party'' in Stockholm. On 6 June 2016, the quartet appeared together at a private party at Berns Salonger in Stockholm, which was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Andersson and Ulvaeus's first meeting. Fältskog and Lyngstad performed live, singing the ABBA song "The Way Old Friends Do" before they were joined on stage by Andersson and Ulvaeus. British manager Simon Fuller announced in a statement in October 2016 that the group would be reuniting to work on a new 'digital entertainment experience'. The project would feature the members in their "life-like" avatar form (abbatars''
Benny Andersson and Björn UlvaeusIn October 1984, Ulvaeus and Andersson together with lyricist Tim Rice released the musical concept double-album ''Chess (musical), Chess''. The singles "One Night in Bangkok" (with vocals by Murray Head and Anders Glenmark ) and "I Know Him So Well" (a duet by Barbara Dickson and Elaine Paige, and later also recorded by Barbra Streisand and Whitney Houston) were both hugely successful. The former reached number-one in Australia, Germany, Spain and Switzerland; number-two in Austria, France and New Zealand, and number-three in Canada, Norway, Sweden and the US. In May 1986, the musical premiered in London's West End, and ran for almost three years. ''Chess'' also opened on Broadway theatre, Broadway in April 1988, but closed within two months due to bad reviews. In Stockholm, the composers staged ''Chess på svenska'' (''Chess in Swedish'') in 2003, with some new material, including the musical numbers ''"Han är en man, han är ett barn"'' ("He's a Man, He's a Child") and ''"Glöm mig om du kan"'' ("Forget Me If You Can"). In 2008, the musical was again revived for a successful staging at London's Royal Albert Hall which was subsequently released on DVD, and then in two successful separate touring productions in the United States and United Kingdom, in 2010. Andersson and Ulvaeus' next project, ''Kristina från Duvemåla'', an epic Swedish musical, premiered in Malmö, in southern Sweden in October 1995. The musical ran for five years in Stockholm, and an English version has been in development for some considerable time. It has been reported that a Broadway production is in its earliest stages of pre-production. In the meantime, following some earlier workshops, a full presentation of the English translation of the musical in concert, now with the shortened name of ''"Kristina"'', took place to capacity crowds in September 2009 at New York's Carnegie Hall, and in April 2010 at London's Royal Albert Hall, followed by a CD release of the New York recordings. Since 1983, besides ''Chess'' and ''Kristina från Duvemåla'', Andersson has continued writing songs with Ulvaeus. The pair produced two English-language pop albums with Swedish duo Gemini (Swedish band), Gemini in 1985 and 1987. In 1987, Andersson also released his first solo album on his own label, Mono Music, called "''Klinga mina klockor''" ("Ring My Bells"), containing material inspired by Swedish folk music – and followed it with a second album titled ''November 1989 (album), November 1989''. During the 1990s, Andersson wrote music for the popular Swedish cabaret quartet Ainbusk, Ainbusk Singers, giving them two hits: "Lassie" and "''Älska mig''" ("Love me"), and later produced ''Shapes'', an English-language album by Josefin Nilsson with all-new material by Andersson and Ulvaeus. Andersson has also regularly written music for films (most notably to Roy Andersson's ''Songs from the Second Floor''). In 2001, Andersson formed his own band, Benny Anderssons Orkester (BAO), which released three successful albums in 2001, 2004 and 2007. Andersson has the distinction of remaining the longest in the Swedish Radio charts; the song ''"Du är min man"'' ("You Are My Man"), sung by Helen Sjöholm, spent 278 weeks there between 2004 and 2009. Andersson released his third album BAO 3 in October 2007, of new material with his band BAO and vocalists Helen Sjöholm and Tommy Körberg, as well as playing to full houses at two of Sweden's largest concert venues in October and November 2007, with an audience of 14,000. Ulvaeus has not appeared on stage performing music since ABBA, but had a reunion with his co-members of the Hootenanny Singers on 16 July 2005 at a music festival in his hometown of Västervik, singing their 1966 hit "Marianne". Andersson and Ulvaeus have been highly involved in the worldwide productions of the musical '' '', alongside Lyngstad who attends premieres. They were also involved in the production of the successful film version of the musical, which opened in July 2008. Andersson produced the soundtrack utilising many of the musicians ABBA used on their albums and tours. Andersson made a cameo appearance in the movie as a "fisherman" piano player in the "Dancing Queen" scene, while Ulvaeus is seen as a Greek god playing a lyre during the closing credits. Andersson and Ulvaeus have continuously been writing new material; most recently they wrote seven songs for Andersson's 2011 BAO album ''O Klang Och Jubeltid'', performed as usual by vocalists Sjöholm, Körberg and Moreus. In July 2009, BAO (now renamed the Benny Andersson Band) released their first international album, ''The Story of a Heart''. The album was a compilation of 14 tracks from Andersson's five Swedish-language releases between 1987 and 2007, including five songs now recorded with lyrics by Ulvaeus in English; the new title song premiered on BBC2's ''Ken Bruce Show''. A Swedish-language version of the title track, ''"Sommaren Du Fick"'' ("The Summer You Got"), was released as a single in Sweden prior to the English version, with vocals by Helen Sjöholm. In May 2009, Andersson released a single recorded by the staff at his privately owned hotel ''Hotel Rival'', titled "2nd Best to None", accompanied by a video showing the staff at work. In 2008, Andersson and Ulvaeus wrote a song for Swedish singer Sissela Kyle, titled ''"Jag vill bli gammal"'' ("I Wanna Grow Old"), for her Stockholm stage show ''"Your Days Are Numbered"'', which was never recorded and released, but was performed on television. Ulvaeus also contributed lyrics to ABBA's 1976 instrumental track "Arrival" for Sarah Brightman's cover version recorded for her 2008 album ''Winter Symphony''. New English lyrics have also been written for Andersson's 1999 song ''"Innan Gryningen"'' (then also named "Millennium Hymn"), with the new title "The Silence of the Dawn" for Barbara Dickson (performed live, but not yet recorded and released). In 2007, they wrote the song ''"Han som har vunnit allt"'' ("He Who's Won It All") for actor/singer Anders Ekborg. Ulvaeus also wrote English lyrics for two older songs from Andersson's solo albums: "After the Rain" ("Efter regnet", 1987) for opera singer Anne Sofie von Otter, for her Andersson tribute album ''I Let the Music Speak'', and "I Walk with You Mama" ("Stockholm by Night", 1989). Barbara Dickson recorded (but not yet released) a Björn & Benny song entitled "The Day The Wall Came Tumbling Down"; the track was eventually released by Australian ''Mamma Mia!'' musical star Anne Wood on her album of ABBA covers, ''Divine Discontent''. , Ulvaeus has mentioned writing new material with Andersson for a BAO Christmas release (also mentioned as a BAO 'box'). Andersson (together with Kristina Lugn and Lars Rudolfsson) composed music for a Swedish language obscure musical, "Hjälp Sökes" ("Help Wanted"), which premiered in February 2013. Andersson has also written music for a documentary film about Olof Palme, re-recording the track "Sorgmarsch" ("Dirge").
Agnetha FältskogIn 1980, Fältskog and her then 7-year-old daughter Linda Ulvaeus, Linda recorded ''Nu tändas tusen juleljus'', a Swedish Christmas album. Released in 1981, it was Fältskog's first Swedish-language recording for the Polar Music label after she left CBS-Cupol. It peaked at No. 6 on the Swedish album chart in January 1982, and has since been re-released on CD by Polar Music/PolyGram/Universal Music. The album title is derived from one of Scandinavia's best-known Christmas carols, "Nu tändas tusen juleljus" ("Now a thousand Christmas candles are lit"). In 1983, Fältskog released the solo album ''Wrap Your Arms Around Me'', which achieved platinum sales in Sweden. This included the single "The Heat Is On (Agnetha song), The Heat Is On", which was a hit in Europe and Scandinavia. It reached number-one in Sweden and Norway and peaked at number-two in the Netherlands and Belgium. In the United States, Fältskog earned a ''Billboard'' Top 30 hit with "Can't Shake Loose". The title track of the album was another successful hit, topping the charts in Belgium and Denmark, reaching the Top 5 in the Netherlands, South Africa and Sweden, and the Top 20 in Germany and France. The album sold 1.2 million copies worldwide. The album was produced by Mike Chapman, also known for his work with , Mud (band), Mud, Suzi Quatro, Blondie (band), Blondie, Pat Benatar and The Knack. Fältskog's second English-language solo album, ''Eyes of a Woman'' (produced by Eric Stewart of 10cc), was released in March 1985. It peaked at number two in Sweden (becoming a platinum seller). The first single from the album was her self-penned "I Won't Let You Go". Her duet with Ola Håkansson, "The Way You Are", was a number-one hit in Sweden in 1986 and was awarded double platinum status. In early 1987, Fältskog recorded a Swedish-language album, ''Kom följ med i vår karusell'' (''Come Join Us on Our Carousel'') with her son Christian and a children's choir. The single "På Söndag" ("On Sunday") received significant airplay on Swedish radio and even made the Swedish Top 10, unique for a song made for kids to enjoy. Also in 1987, Fältskog released her third English-language solo album, the Peter Cetera-produced ''I Stand Alone (Agnetha Fältskog album), I Stand Alone'', which also included the ''Billboard'' Adult Contemporary duet with Cetera, "I Wasn't the One (Who Said Goodbye)", as well as the European charting singles "The Last Time" and "Let It Shine". The album was extremely successful in Sweden, where it spent eight weeks at number-one and was awarded double-platinum status. Shortly after some minor European promotion for the album in early 1988, Fältskog withdrew from public life and halted her music career. In 1996, she released her autobiography, ''As I Am'', and a compilation album featuring her solo hits alongside some ABBA classics. In 2004, Fältskog made a successful comeback, with the release of the critically acclaimed album ''My Colouring Book'', containing covers of songs that had the most impact on her teenage years in the 1960s. It debuted at number-one in Sweden (achieving triple-platinum status), and was a Top 10 hit in Denmark, Finland and Germany. It also became Fältskog's second solo album to reach the UK Top 20, peaking at number 12. The single "If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind" (a cover of the song recorded by Cilla Black) became Fältskog's biggest solo hit in the UK, reaching number 11, while peaking at number-two in her native Sweden. A second single, "When You Walk in the Room", was released but met with less success. In January 2007, Fältskog sang a live duet on stage with Swedish singer Tommy Körberg at the after party for the final performance of the musical, ''Mamma Mia!'', in Stockholm, at which Andersson and Ulvaeus were also present. In May 2013, Fältskog released a solo album entitled ''A (Agnetha Fältskog album), A'' through Universal Music Group, Universal International. In a promotional interview, Fältskog explained that the album was unplanned and it was after she heard the first three songs that she felt that she "had to do this [record the album]". She also revealed that she completed singing lessons prior to recording the album, as she felt her throat was "a bit rusty". Fältskog stated that she would not be undertaking any tours or live performances in support of the album, explaining: "I'm not that young anymore. I don't have the energy to do that, and also I don't want to travel too much." The title of the album was conceived of by the studio production team. ''A'' proved successful upon release, reaching the Top 10 in many European countries, including Germany, Sweden and the UK (where it peaked at number-six and is Fältskog's highest-charting solo album to date), as well as Australia.
Anni-Frid LyngstadBoth female members of ABBA pursued solo careers on the international scene after their work with the group. In 1982, Lyngstad chose Genesis (band), Genesis drummer and vocalist Phil Collins to produce the album ''Something's Going On'' and unveiled the hit single and video "I Know There's Something Going On" in August of that year. The single became a number-one hit in Belgium and Switzerland and was a Top 10 hit in Australia, Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Africa and Sweden. The track also proved successful in the US, peaking at No. 13 (and spending almost four months on the ''Billboard'' Hot 100). Sveriges Television documented this historical event, by filming the whole recording process. The result became a one-hour TV documentary, including interviews with Lyngstad, Collins, Ulvaeus and Andersson as well as all the musicians. This documentary and the promotion videos from the album are included in '' Frida – The DVD''. Lyngstad's second international solo album, ''Shine (Frida album), Shine'' (produced by Steve Lillywhite), was recorded in Paris and released in 1984. This would be Lyngstad's final studio album release for twelve years. It featured "Slowly", the last known Andersson-Ulvaeus composition to have been recorded by one of the former female ABBA vocalists to date. The promotional videos and clips for "Shine" are included in ''Frida – The DVD''. In 1992, Lyngstad was chosen to be the chairperson for the environmental organisation ''"Artister för miljön"'' ("Artists for the Environment") in Sweden. She was chairperson for this organisation until 1995. To mark her interests for the environment, she recorded the Julian Lennon song "Saltwater" and performed it live in Stockholm. She arranged and financed summer camps for poor children in Sweden, focusing on environmental and ecological issues. Her environmental work for the organisation led to the decision to record again. The album ''Djupa andetag'' (''Deep Breaths'') was released in 1996 and became a number-one success in Sweden. The lyrics for the single, "Även en blomma" ("Even a Flower"), deal with environmental issues. In 2004, Lyngstad recorded a song entitled "The Sun Will Shine Again", written especially for her and released with former Deep Purple member Jon Lord. The couple made several TV performances with the song in Germany. On 5 December 2005, Universal Music Group, Universal released her box set, Frida – 4xCD 1xDVD, consisting of the solo albums she recorded for the Polar Label and the 3-hour documentary ''Frida – The DVD''. On this DVD, which covers her entire singing career, the viewer is guided by Lyngstad herself through the years from her TV debut in Sweden in 1967 to the TV performances she made in Germany in 2004. Many rare clips are included in the set and each performance is explained by Lyngstad herself. The interview with Lyngstad was filmed in the Swiss Alps in mid-2005. Lyngstad returned to the recording studio in 2010 to record vocals for the Cat Stevens song "Morning Has Broken", for Swedish guitarist Georg Wadenius's album ''Reconnection''. The album, which featured other guest vocalists, reached number 17 in Sweden. In 2018, Lyngstad and multi-Grammy winning Jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval released a reworking of the ABBA song "Andante, Andante" as a single, which is also featured on Sandoval's album ''Ultimate Duets''.
Recording processABBA were perfectionists in the studio, working on tracks until they got them right rather than leaving them to come back to later on.ABBA – In Their Own Words, compiled by Rosemary York, 1981, pp 57–65. Omnibus Press The band created a basic rhythm track with a drummer, guitarist and bass player, and overlaid other arrangements and instruments. Vocals were then added, and orchestra overdubbing, overdubs were usually left until last. Fältskog and Lyngstad contributed ideas at the studio stage. Andersson and Ulvaeus played them the backing tracks and they made comments and suggestions. According to Fältskog, she and Lyngstad had the final say in how the lyrics were shaped. After vocals and overdubs were done, the band took up to five days to mix a song. Their single "S.O.S." was "heavily influenced by Phil Spector's Wall of Sound and the melodies of the Beach Boys", according to ''Billboard'' writer Fred Bronson, who also reported that Ulvaeus had said, "Because there was the Latin-American influence, the German, the Italian, the English, the American, all of that. I suppose we were a bit exotic in every territory in an acceptable way."
Fashion, style, videos, advertising campaignsABBA was widely noted for the colourful and trend-setting costumes its members wore. The reason for the wild costumes was Swedish tax law. The cost of the clothes was deductible only if they could not be worn other than for performances. Choreography by Graham Tainton also contributed to their performance style. The videos that accompanied some of the band's biggest hits are often cited as being among the earliest examples of the genre. Most of ABBA's videos (and ''ABBA: The Movie'') were directed by , who would later direct the films ''My Life as a Dog'', ''The Cider House Rules (film), The Cider House Rules'' and ''Chocolat (2000 film), Chocolat''. ABBA made videos because their songs were hits in many different countries and personal appearances were not always possible. This was also done in an effort to minimise travelling, particularly to countries that would have required extremely long flights. Fältskog and Ulvaeus had two young children and Fältskog, who was also afraid of flying, was very reluctant to leave her children for such a long time. ABBA's manager, Stig Anderson, realised the potential of showing a simple video clip on television to publicise a single or album, thereby allowing easier and quicker exposure than a concert tour. Some of these videos have become classics because of the 1970s-era costumes and early video effects, such as the grouping of the band members in different combinations of pairs, overlapping one singer's profile with the other's full face, and the contrasting of one member against another. In 1976, ABBA participated in an advertising campaign to promote the Panasonic, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.'s brand, National, in Australia. The campaign was also broadcast in Japan. Five commercial spots, each of approximately one minute, were produced, each presenting the "National Song" performed by ABBA using the melody and instrumental arrangements of "Fernando" and revised lyrics.
Political use of ABBA's musicIn September 2010, band members Andersson and Ulvaeus criticised the right-wing Danish People's Party (DF) for using the ABBA song "Mamma Mia" (with modified lyrics referencing Pia Kjærsgaard) at rallies. The band threatened to file a lawsuit against the DF, saying they never allowed their music to be used politically and that they had absolutely no interest in supporting the party. Their record label Universal Music later said that no legal action would be taken because an agreement had been reached.
Success in the United StatesDuring their active career, from 1972 to 1982, ABBA placed 20 singles on the ''Billboard'' Hot 100, 14 of which made the Top 40 (13 on the Cashbox Top 100), with 10 making the Top 20 on both charts. A total of four of those singles reached the Top 10, including "Dancing Queen", which reached number one in April 1977. While "Fernando" and "SOS" did not break the Top 10 on the ''Billboard'' Hot 100 (reaching number 13 and 15 respectively), they did reach the Top 10 on Cashbox ("Fernando") and Record World ("SOS") charts. Both "Dancing Queen" and "Take a Chance on Me" were certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies each. The group also had 12 Top 20 singles on the ''Billboard'' Adult Contemporary chart with two of them, "Fernando" and "The Winner Takes It All", reaching number one. "Lay All Your Love on Me" was ABBA's fourth number-one single on a ''Billboard'' chart, topping the Hot Dance Club Play chart. Nine ABBA albums made their way into the top half of the ''Billboard'' 200 album chart, with seven reaching the Top 50 and four reaching the Top 20. ''ABBA: The Album'' was the highest-charting album of the group's career, peaking at No. 14. Five albums received RIAA gold certification (more than 500,000 copies sold), while three acquired platinum status (selling more than one million copies). The compilation album ''ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits'' topped the ''Billboard'' Top Pop Catalog Albums chart in August 2008 (15 years after it was first released in the US in 1993), becoming the group's first number-one album ever on any of the ''Billboard'' album charts. It has sold 6 million copies there. On 15 March 2010, ABBA were inducted into the by Bee Gees members Barry Gibb and Robin Gibb. The ceremony was held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The group was represented by Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson.
Members* – lead and backing vocals * – lead and backing vocals * Björn Ulvaeus – guitars, backing and lead vocals * – keyboards, synthesizers, piano, accordion, guitars, backing and lead vocals The members of ABBA were married as follows: Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus from 1971 to 1980: Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad from 1978 to 1981.
Notable ABBA related tributes
Musical groups* Abbaesque – An Irish ABBA tribute band * A-Teens – A pop music group from Stockholm, Sweden * Björn Again – The earliest-formed ABBA tribute band (1988) * Gabba (band), Gabba – An ABBA–Ramones tribute band that covers the former in the style of the latter, the name being a pun on "Gabba Gabba Hey".
Media*''Saturday Night (TV series), Saturday Night'' (1975) (TV) .... Season 1 Episode 5 (Hosted by Robert Klein with Musical Numbers by ABBA and Loudon Wainwright III) * ''Abbacadabra'' – A French children's Musical theatre, musical based on songs from ABBA * ''Abba-esque'' – A 1992 Cover version, cover Extended play, EP by Erasure * ''Abbasalutely'' – A compilation album released in 1995 as a tribute album to ABBA * '' '' – A musical stage show based on songs of ABBA * ''ABBAmania'' – An ITV (TV network), ITV programme and tribute album to ABBA released in 1999 * ''Mamma Mia! (film), Mamma Mia!'' – A film adaptation of the musical stage show * '' '' – A prequel/sequel to the original film * ''ABBA: You Can Dance'' – A dance video game released by Ubisoft in 2011 with songs from ABBA and also a spin-off of Just Dance (video game series), ''Just Dance'' video game series * ''Dancing Queen (album), Dancing Queen'' - A 2018 cover album by Cher
DiscographyStudio albums * '' Ring Ring'' (1973) * '' '' (1974) * '' '' (1975) * '' Arrival'' (1976) * ''ABBA: The Album, ''The Album'''' (1977) * ''Voulez-Vous'' (1979) * ''Super Trouper (album), Super Trouper'' (1980) * ''The Visitors (ABBA album), The Visitors'' (1981)
Tours* 1973: Swedish Folkpark Tour * 1974–1975: European Tour * 1977: European & Australian Tour * 1979–1980: ABBA: The Tour
Awards and nominations
See also* ABBA: The Museum * ABBA City Walks – Stockholm City Museum * ABBAMAIL * List of best-selling music artists * List of Swedes in music * Music of Sweden * Popular music in Sweden
Further reading* * Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Judy Craymer: ''Mamma Mia! How Can I Resist You?: The Inside Story of Mamma Mia! and the Songs of ABBA''. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006 *Carl Magnus Palm. ''ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions'' (1994) * Carl Magnus Palm (2000). ''From "ABBA" to "Mamma Mia!"'' * Elisabeth Vincentelli: ''ABBA Treasures: A Celebration of the Ultimate Pop Group''. Omnibus Press, 2010, * Oldham, Andrew, Calder, Tony & Irvin, Colin (1995) "ABBA: The Name of the Game", * Potiez, Jean-Marie (2000). ''ABBA – The Book'' * Simon Sheridan: ''The Complete ABBA''. Titan Books, 2012, *Anna Henker (ed.), Astrid Heyde (ed.)
Documentaries* ''A for ABBA''. BBC, 20 July 1993 * Thierry Lecuyer, Jean-Marie Potiez: ''Thank You ABBA.'' Willow Wil Studios/A2C Video, 1993 * Barry Barnes: ''ABBA − The History.'' Polar Music International AB, 1999 * Chris Hunt: ''The Winner Takes it All − The ABBA Story.'' Littlestar Services/lambic Productions, 1999 * Steve Cole, Chris Hunt: ''Super Troupers − Thirty Years of ABBA''. BBC, 2004 * ''The Joy of ABBA''. BBC 4, 27 December 2013
External links* * *Owen Gleibermann