Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013



Last Tuesday, the ABBA Museum opened in Stockholm with great fanfare.  And it's better than anyone expected!  In addition to the gold records and vintage photos, there are interactive exhibits as well.  Jubilant fans don green, sequin-studded suits and photograph themselves with wax statues of band members.  You can also pretend to record a hit in a re-creation of their famed Viggsö Studio.  Talk about fun!  However, since ABBA never achieved Super-Stardom in the USA, most Americans do not know much about the fearsome foursome.  So, inform the uninformed and to celebrate the great, we have constructed an ABBA quick guide.

Their Name.  The band originally was known as Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid.  For obvious reasons, their manager STIG ANDERSON wanted something more catchy.  At first, he tried BABA.  Then it was FABB.  But they finally all agreed on ABBA.  At first, the band was worried it would be confused with the popular canned fish brand of the same name.  Fortunately, few folks outside of Sweden like canned fish.

Their Awards.  While the band has accolades galore...including Grammy's, BRIT Awards and a Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame induction...they are most proud of their EUROVISION Song Contest Award.  Never heard of EuroVision?  It's a mix of American Idol and the Olympics. Every year since 1956, each European nation submits a song and artist to the event.  Back in 1974, Sweden's entry took the competition by storm.  ABBA wisely chose the song "Waterloo," as the event was held in Brighton that year.  Following the win, the band became instant stars.

Their Album Sales.  Controversy abounds about the total number of records sold by the band.  According to the record books, they have sold 200 million certified albums.   In reality, the rights to produce ABBA albums in places like Baluchistan are non-existent.  Hence, in actuality, it's estimated 375 million ABBA albums have been sold.  This places them at third on the All-Time List.  That's behind the Beatles and Elvis but ahead of Michael Jackson and the Rolling Stones.

The Marriages. What makes ABBA so fascinating is the chemistry within the band.  In addition to being band members, the foursome were also two married couples. Anita and Björn were husband and wife from 1971 - 1978...the band's peak period.  The same is true for the other band members Benny and Anni-Frid, who were married from 1975 - 1981.    TRIVIA: Björn wrote the song "The Winner Takes It All" about his divorce.

Their Royalty.  Sweden's Royal House dates back to 970 AD when Erik the Victorious united Svealand and Gothia.  Although ABBA are considered pop royalty by their rabid fans, they are indeed common citizens.  But not Anni-Frid!  In 1992, she married a Prince from the defunct...but still royal...House of Reuss in Central Germany.  Her official title is now:  Anni-Frid, Princess Reuss, Countess of Plauen.  
Their Reunion.  Unlike other disco bands, ABBA managed to maintain their popularity over the years.  (Sorry, KC & the Sunshine Band!)  Their seven studio albums all went platinum.  Their numerous 'Greatest Hits' compilations are found in every one's music collection.  Unfortunately, relationships between the band members themselves deteriorated...we mentioned the double divorce earlier.  In 2000, they turned down a Billion Dollar offer for a concert tour.  But time heals all wounds and the foursome came together in 2008 for a reception for their hit movie / musical:  'Mamma Mia!'   

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