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How Abba singers’ chance meeting was path to fame


Folks act the Hootenanny Singers, that includes Björn Ulvaeus, knew all about Sweden’s high group The Hep Stars, with singer Benny Andersson, however had by no means met. Björn’s band had been on their solution to the occasion, whereas Benny’s had already performed and had been off to a different gig. Stopping to say hi there, the Hootenanny Singers invited The Hep Stars to a celebration that evening – a send-off bash earlier than they did a 12 months’s nationwide service.

“We by no means actually anticipated them to return, as a result of it could be fairly a drive for them,” Björn remembered. However by no means ones to overlook a celebration, The Hep Stars had each intention of exhibiting up. However they misheard the title of the city and ended up 150 miles away. After they realised their mistake they drove all the way in which to the opposite city and arrived at 2am to search out the occasion nonetheless going robust.

The younger musicians hit it off instantly. Most significantly, a particular bond was cast between the 2 songwriters within the respective teams. Björn and Benny ended up with two guitars, sitting on a park bench enjoying Beatles songs till daybreak. Each had ambitions to develop into profitable songwriters, like John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

“All we stated on the time was, ‘Maybe we may attempt to write one thing collectively sooner or later?’” remembered Benny.

The prospect got here three weeks later, throughout a break from the navy. After a number of hours in Västervik, the place Björn’s household lived, the pair accomplished the melody for a tune they known as Isn’t It Straightforward To Say. Björn had an thought for lyrics, and Benny took it on himself to complete them later. It was the very first Andersson/Ulvaeus composition.

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Born in 1945 on the island of Hisingen, the house of Volvo, Björn demonstrated his enterprise acumen from a younger age when, aged round six, he tried to promote his youthful sister to one of many males working on the native shipyard as a result of he was bored with the toddler hanging round him.

Benny, Anni-Frid, Agnetha and Björn hit the street to world pop stardom after their 1974 Eurovision vi (Picture: Reuters)

On his thirteenth birthday, Björn bought his first acoustic guitar however his mom Aina didn’t get pleasure from his early enjoying. “I’d placed on my coat and get out of the home, simply to keep away from having to take heed to it,” she stated.

In highschool, he joined a band known as The West Bay Singers, which in 1963 entered a radio expertise contest. Considered one of their rivals was a 17-year-old singer known as Anni-Frid Lyngstad.She was the kid of a bootleg liaison between 18-year-old Norwegian lady Synni Lyngstad and a 24-year-old German sergeant known as Alfred Haase, a married man, stationed in Norway in the course of the conflict. Alfred gained Synni’s affections with a 2kg sack of potatoes, a scarce commodity in 1945.

Alfred reportedly knew his lover was pregnant earlier than he shipped out and promised to return, however he claimed later that he had no thought and his letters to Synni went unanswered. By the point Anni-Frid was born in November 1945, Synni was an outcast, shunned by locals for having an illegitimate little one by a German.

To provide Synni an opportunity to rebuild her life, her mom Anni took the child to reside in Sweden. Devastated Synni struggled to manage and adopted them over the border just a few months later however in 1947, she died from kidney failure, aged 21.

Anni-Frid discovered consolation in music and, at 13, adopted the nickname Frida and commenced singing. At 16 she joined Bengt Sandlund’s huge band, a preferred native dance outfit and fell in love with trombone participant Ragnar Fredriksson, 4 years her senior.

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Abba rejoice on stage after profitable the ultimate of the Eurovision Music Contest 1974 Grand Remaining (Picture: Getty)

In January 1963, aged 17, she gave beginning to a son, Hans. She and Ragnar married a 12 months later and a daughter, Ann Lise-Lotte, arrived in 1967.Benny Andersson was already a gifted keyboard participant at 15 when his girlfriend, Christina Grönvall, fell pregnant.

They bought engaged and in August 1963 she gave beginning to a boy, Peter. Benny, nonetheless solely 16, gave up his engineering apprenticeship. He and Christina joined a folks group, whereas he bought home home equipment door-to-door.

When that group folded he thought of going again to highschool, however was invited to affix rising pop act The Hep Stars. Because the band achieved nationwide fame, Christina gave beginning to a second little one, Heléne, however Benny’s non-public life was stored secret from adoring followers, and in 1966 they broke up.

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In March 1969, Frida was attempting to make it as a solo singer.

Coming into the Swedish alternatives for the Eurovision Music Contest she got here fourth, however briefly met Benny Andersson who was there collaborating with singer and songwriter Lars Berghagen. The pair’s tune, carried out by a singer known as Jan Malmsjö, got here second.

A number of days later they ran into one another in a restaurant in Malmö, with different musicians, together with Björn. All of them went again to Björn and Benny’s resort and when Frida left later that morning she felt like she had recognized Benny all her life.

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Frida tried to make it as a solo singer (Picture: PA)

Likewise, Benny was charmed by the enticing brunette with the infectious laughter. He was nonetheless in a relationship along with his Norwegian girlfriend, Anne, however couldn’t resist the temptation of a short fling with Frida. “I used to be in love with him already,” Frida admitted, “however it took a while earlier than he felt the identical about me.”

For Björn, one other probability assembly in 1969 was to alter his life. He was participating in a TV particular when he first noticed Agnetha Fältskog, a stunningly stunning singer who’d loved chart success in Sweden. He later stated he fell in love the primary time he heard her sing.

Filming one sequence, he seized his probability to seize maintain of her hand. “That’s once I knew there was no going again,” she stated. The next morning he was half an hour late to movie a solo tune however when the crew couldn’t find him somebody advised attempting Agnetha’s room. After a lot banging on her door it lastly opened simply barely and a dazed Björn peeked out.

The red-faced singer was down on the location in a flash, and nailed his tune in a single take. By the point the tv particular was completed, Björn and Agnetha had develop into a pair. Quickly they had been shut buddies with Benny and Frida, who had moved to a small condo in Stockholm, making the heart-wrenching resolution to go away their youngsters with their ex-partners, to give attention to their music careers.

They supported one another when others handed judgment on them for the way in which they’d “deserted” their households.

On April 5, 1970, Agnetha’s twentieth birthday, the 2 {couples} left for an 11-day vacation in Cyprus. Björn and Agnetha bought engaged there however the journey was vital for one more purpose.

For the primary time all of them performed and sang collectively – and had been astounded on the outcomes. On a whim, they performed reside for United Nations troopers stationed on the island. They went down a storm, and an thought was born. They started touring and the next 12 months Agnetha and Björn married.

When information leaked of the marriage, each obtainable police officer was required to manage the three,000 followers who turned up. Within the chaos, a horse stood on the bride’s foot however, whereas Benny performed the Wedding ceremony March on the church organ, the ceremony went forward.

At the beginning of 1972, each {couples} had moved into model new terraced homes within the Stockholm suburb of Vallentuna and recorded below the title Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid. After a number of unsuccessful makes an attempt at changing into Sweden’s entry to the Eurovision Music Contest, Benny and Björn thought they had been on to a winner with a tune known as Ring Ring. Though the tune grew to become successful – the Swedish and English variations at primary and two – it solely got here third, so that they resolved to strive once more.

In February 1973, Agnetha gave beginning to a daughter, Linda, declaring it “the happiest second of my life”.

Earlier than their subsequent assault on Eurovision, supervisor Stig Anderson needed them to alter their title to the catchier ABBA – additionally the title of a seafood firm – however Benny and Björn thought the title “smelled of canned fish”. A newspaper contest to discover a title for the band produced solutions like “Alibaba, Baba and Associates and Neighbours”.

Admitting defeat, the boys agreed to ABBA. Stig known as the fish firm for its approval, which the proprietor gave, on the situation the group wouldn’t discredit his firm. The primary data credited to ABBA had been the British and Italian Ring Ring singles, launched in October 1973.

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Abba held a live performance on the UN in New York in 1979 (Picture: Getty)

Only a few months later ABBA lastly secured their nation’s entry to Eurovision with their new tune Waterloo.

Supervisor Stig got here up with the concept after looking out in a e-book of quotations for a three-syllable phrase to suit Benny and Björn’s melody.

The Dome in Brighton was chosen because the venue for the 1974 Eurovision Music Contest on. By a spooky coincidence, ABBA had been booked to remain within the Napoleon suite on the elegant Grand Lodge. They took the competition by storm, however regardless of not scoring any factors with 5 nations – together with Nice Britain – gained with a reasonably low rating of 24 factors.

When it was time to crown the winners, Björn and Benny had been blocked from the stage by safety guards who insisted that “solely the composers are allowed” and thought they had been simply the performers. Benny finally managed to battle his approach previous, however the guards completely refused to let go of Björn. He was lastly allowed on stage when it was time to carry out the profitable tune once more.

Whereas ABBA basked of their triumph, not everybody again house was glad. Some individuals reported Waterloo to the performing rights society for plagiarising The Foundations’ 1968 hit, Construct Me Up Buttercup.

Whereas Björn and Benny dismissed the comparisons, a Swedish reporter condemned the band for making mild of a battle during which 40,000 individuals died.

None of it mattered. ABBA partied till 6am. Björn remembered, “I believed to myself, ‘My God, yesterday we had been an unknown group and tomorrow the entire world lies open for us. We’ve develop into well-known in a single day.’”

 Tailored by Douglas Wight from Shiny Lights Darkish Shadows: The Actual Story Of ABBA (Omnibus, £16.95)





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