Sweden’s Fab Four: ABBA

Overturning odds of 20–1, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvæus and Agnetha Fältskog first came to the world’s attention as they stormed to victory in April 1974 at the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo. ABBA went on to become the biggest-selling group in the world, second only to Volvo as Sweden’s biggest export earner, topping the charts for a decade with hits like Dancing Queen (performed to celebrate the marriage of Swedish King Carl Gustaf to German commoner Silvia Sommerlath in 1976), Mamma Mia and Money Money Money. The winning combination led to a string of number-one hits and even a film, ABBA The Movie, released to popular acclaim in 1978.

However, the relentless workload of recording and touring took its toll; frictions within the group surfaced, the two couples – Agnetha and Björn, and Anni-Frid and Benny – divorced, and ABBA called it a day in 1983. News of the split was broken by the Swedish newspaper, Dagens Nyheter – Agnetha had casually dropped the bombshell into a conversation and to this day carries the blame for the break-up. Having withdrawn from public life, she now lives as a virtual recluse on the island of Ekerö on Lake Mälaren. Anni-Frid married a German prince, and today lives in Switzerland and spends her time championing environmental causes. After a spell in Henley-on-Thames, near London, during the 1980s, Björn is now back in Stockholm where he partly owns the domestic airline, Nextjet, and writes and produces music with Benny, who has opened his own hotel on Södermalm, Rival. Together they’ve worked on a string of musicals including Chess and Mamma Mia, which uses 27 ABBA songs to tell the tale of the relationship between a mother and her daughter.

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