I remember during music lessons at school we would discuss the 2 super groups that emerged from the 1970’s. The first one was Queen and the other one was ABBA.
Both band of course did not start out with those names. Queen was called Smile first and ABBA’s origin was in the pop, folk and jazz scene of Sweden. Benny Andersson was a member of a popular Swedish pop-rock group, the Hep Stars.
Björn Ulvaeus began his musical career at the age of 18 ,as a singer and guitarist, as the frontman of the Hootenanny Singers, a popular Swedish folk–skiffle group. He 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.
Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad 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”.
Agnetha Fältskog was the singer 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”). In 1972, Fältskog starred as Mary Magdalene in the original Swedish production of Jesus Christ Superstar and attracted some very good reviews.
On June 1972 the four released their debut single called “People Need Love” but the single was released with the band name ‘Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid’ not the catchiest of named to be honest, so in 1973 the band and their manager Stig Anderson changed the name to ABBA.
In 1975 the band had their international break through with “Waterloo” at the 1974 Eurovision song contest, which was held in Brighton on the south coast of the United Kingdom, on April 6. However Waterloo was not the first choice of the band to be used at the Song contest, They initially planned to enter the song “Hasta Mañana”for the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest.
I think things would have turned out very different for the band. I reckon very few people would have remembered the name ABBA.
But as we all know they entered “Waterloo” for the contest making musical history and a legacy that still lives on to this day. Even young kids will know the song Waterloo and ABBA , mostly because of teh musical Mamma Mia and its sequel though.
The musical did spark a revival for ABBA music although their music has always been popular. 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” It has been rumoured that they were offered a billion US Dollars to tour again, but I believe that was all though, rumours.
The two men were and still are successful as song writers and composes. In 1983 they began collaborating with Tim Rice in writing songs for the musical project Chess. Which had 2 massive hits with “I know him so well” and “One night in Bangkok”
All of this though started off with the song Waterloo ,inspired by the 18 June 1815 battle of Waterloo.
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