ABBA: From Music Icons to Solo Success

The Swedish Music Band ABBA

ABBA has sold more than 300 million albums worldwide. They are an international icon of music and have influenced many contemporary artists.

The band’s story began in Sweden in the mid-1960s. Benny Andersson played in the folk group Hep Stars and Bjorn Ulvaeus fronted the Hootenanny Singers. They joined forces and changed their name to ABBA, an acronym of their first names.

ABBA Members

As ABBA broke up, each member continued to be involved in music. Benny and Bjorn wrote many more songs, Agnetha went on to become a successful solo artist, and Frida started writing too. All four members made cameo appearances in the Eurovision Song Contest 2004 in Istanbul, 30 years after they won. The four regrouped for a comedy video, Our Last Video Ever, featuring many well-known stars such as Rik Mayall, Cher and Iron Maiden’s Eddie.

After ABBA split, both couples married and had children. In the early 80s it became clear that the group’s energy was fading and they eventually stopped performing publically. Agnetha Faltskog continued to record and perform, but her personal life was troubled by two divorces and a road traffic accident which left her in a coma. She now lives outside Stockholm on a farm. The remaining members of ABBA went on to enjoy success as solo artists, and all have had successful acting careers too.

Agnetha Faltskog

Agnetha Faltskog, born on April 5, 1950 in Jonkoping, Sweden, grew up with a love for singing and acting. She began her career as a telephonist for a car company and sang with a local dance band led by Bernt Enghardt. The band became popular and at the age of 18 she topped the Swedish charts with her self-composed song, “Jag Var Sa Kar”.

In the spring of 1971 Faltskog gave birth to daughter Linda. During this time she and Ulvaeus started performing together on stage, which resulted in the formation of ABBA.

In September 1975 ABBA made a tour of the United States. At this time a rumour started that the members of ABBA were in a plane crash. Immediately the members of ABBA tried to quell this story. This was not an easy task as Frida and Agnetha were both against flying long distances.

Anni-Frid Lyngstad

Anni-Frid Lyngstad was born in the Swedish city of Eskilstuna. Her grandmother encouraged her to sing, and she began performing in public at the age of ten. She took part in the Melodifestivalen – the Swedish heats of the Eurovision Song Contest – in 1967, where she met her future husband Benny Andersson backstage after their performance.

The pair later formed the band ABBA, together with Agnetha Faltskog and Bjorn Ulvaeus. The group enjoyed massive success throughout Europe and Australia, but struggled to break into the United States, where a combination of personal turmoil and declining interest in disco meant that they eventually split in 1982.

In the late 1990s, Lyngstad became involved in environmental activism, and in 2004 she appeared in a comedy video made for the Eurovision semi-final in Istanbul – thirty years after ABBA’s win in Brighton. Universal released a 4xCD box set, Frida, containing all her solo albums for Polar Music and Anderson Records, plus a DVD documenting her career both before and after ABBA.

Bjorn Ulvaeus

During the years after ABBA broke up, Ulvaeus continued to perform with his folk band and he also remained a successful composer. He wrote the music for the musicals Chess (in collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice) and Kristina frn Duvemala (based on The Emigrants novels by Vilhelm Moberg). He co-produced the films Mamma Mia! and ABBA Voyage.

In 2004, Ulvaeus, Andersson, and Lyngstad reunited on stage to sing a few ABBA songs for a special Eurovision Song Contest interval act in Istanbul. They filmed a short comedy video to mark the occasion and it was released on DVD.

In January 1981, Ulvaeus married journalist Lena Kallersjo and they had two daughters together. He is a frequent speaker on topics including leadership, entrepreneurship, and artificial intelligence. He is a co-owner of NoteHeads, an IT company that publishes the music notation software Igor Engraver. He and his wife live on an island near Stockholm, Sweden. Their home is called Lantlada and is a popular tourist destination for guests.

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