The girls attained fame in Sweden as solo singers; Björn was in The Hootenanny Singers and Benny was with the Hep Stars, who were known as the "Swedish Beatles." In 1972, Björn and Benny released the single "People Need Love," which featured Agnetha and Anni-Frid on backup vocals. This single was credited to "Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid," and was included on ABBA's debut album Ring Ring.
When the band formed, Benny and Anni-Frid were a couple, as were Björn and Agnetha. The band name is their initials as an acronym.
Quickly popular in Europe, ABBA became more famous when "Waterloo
" won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest. The Eurovision stigma held them back for a year, but they followed with a remarkable run of 18 consecutive Top 10 UK singles (eight at #1), and eight #1 albums.
They formed the Polar Music Company, which houses a recording studio that is still in use today. Led Zeppelin, Genesis, and The Backstreet Boys have all recorded there.
The group faded after the couples divorced (Björn and Agnetha 1979; Benny and Anni-Frid '81). The members then took on various solo projects: Phil Collins produced Frida's 1982 solo album Something's Going On
1982. Agnetha released Can't Shake Loose
in 1983, and the boys collaborated with Tim Rice on the musical Chess
, which was recorded in London 1984 and staged 1986.
Bob - Knoxville, TN, for all above
Benny and Björn did the songwriting for the group. They were known for writing catchy songs that got right to the chorus.
Anni-Frid's second husband died of cancer in November 1999, 2 years after her daughter Lisse-Lot, together with Ragnar Frediksson died in a car accident in the US.
Moya - Zoutleeuw, Belgium
A national fish-canning company in Sweden had the name ABBA, but they allowed the band to use it.
When ABBA was active, only the Volvo car company made more money in Sweden.
ABBA-mania returned with the opening of the 2008 film Mamma Mia!
, which was based on the group's songs. This pushed ABBA's Gold
album to #1 on the UK album chart over, a position it held 16 years earlier.
Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 3
, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus wrote a musical in Swedish called Kristina from Duvemåla
. In Sweden it is considered by many as one of the greatest musicals ever - a very serious musical with 39 songs and hardly any of them Pop. It is based on Wilhelm Moberg's Utvandrarna
(The emigrants) about Swedish emigrants going to America in the 19th century. It premiered in Sweden in 1995.
Stefan - Stockholm, Sweden
They conquered America even though they hardly ever played there - their only North American tour lasted just 18 dates in 1979.
Many bands write a bunch of songs and gradually whittle down the ones they want to release, but ABBA would write only about 12 songs a year, and just about every one was released. Their approach was to write a small number of songs and then focus attention on those.
Frida is a mezzo soprano and Agnetha sings in a high soprano, which helped create a nice contrast in their vocal sound.
Anni-Frid's father was a German soldier in Hitler's army. When they invaded Norway, he met Synni Lyngstad, who relocated to Sweden when Anni-Frid was an infant, and died of kidney failure when Anni was 2. Anni-Frid's father was presumed dead, but he turned up in 1977 when he was reunited with his daughter. These children of German soldiers were derided as "Tyskerbarnas" by many Norwegians. There were an estimated 12,000 children in this group, and many suffered human rights abuses for many years.
The foursome reunited in 2016 to celebrate the opening of Bjorn's Stockholm-based restaurant Mamma Mia! The Party, inspired by the long-running musical.
Although ABBA became a worldwide phenomenon on the pop charts with their disco-flavored hits and polyester jumpsuits, they weren't welcome in the grittier music scenes. "It was the era of punk rock and ABBA were to be beheaded," U2 frontman Bono recalled in the documentary ABBA: The Winner Takes It All
. "And I probably would have held the axe."
Bono eventually changed his tune and U2 even covered "Dancing Queen
" during the band's Zoo TV tour in 1992, with Bjorn and Benny joining them onstage in Stockholm.