Björn Ulvaus and Benny Anderson had been planning to record a proper song for a long time. Both knew each other since 1966, made music together and covered bands like Sweet and Middle of the Road.
They tried out different styles of music, from folk to rock, and gained some popularity in the process.
Their wives, Agnetha and Anni-Frid, also known as Frida, were both successful singers.
In 1970, Bjorn and Benny released their first song together, called “She’s my Kind of Girl,” which surprisingly became a hit in Japan a year later.
The success of the song gave them wings. Björn and Benny got their partners Agnetha and Anni-Frid on board and recorded their first group song, “People Need Love,” in Stockholm’s Metronome Studio.
The song is happy and colorful and one through which the four singers seem to broadcast their desire for peace, harmony, trust and love to the world — with some yodeling to boot.
The men and women in the group took turns singing, a style they later gave up.
“People Need Love” was first broadcast in April 1972 on the Swedish TV show “Vi I femman,” and was released shortly after. The group’s name, however, was unwieldy: Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid.
The group’s success became apparent. The four members decided to record an album: “Ring Ring” was released in summer 1972.
But only with their second album did the group create music history.
ABBA applied to participate in the Grand Prix d’Eurovision de la Chanson — known as the Eurovision Song Contest today — and were sent to Brighton in the UK.
With “Waterloo,” they won the competition for Sweden and the rest is history. Even the group’s separation in 1982 could not take away the aura of the four band members. “Dancing Queen,” “Thank You for the Music,” “The Winner Takes it All” and “Gimme Gimme Gimme” are only a few of the unforgettable hits that are a party staple even today.
After 40 years, the Swedes returned in 2021 with the album “Voyage.” The release of the two new songs, “I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down” in September was celebrated by fans worldwide.
A new invention: ABBAtars
During the release party, Benny and Björn said that they would also have a concert tour for the album — but without the real ABBA members.
Agnetha and Anni-Frid did not want to appear live onstage and so the team conceived an alternative.
They worked on a show in which they would appear as virtual avatars and as young as they were in the 1970s when they all sang together. They created a new name for this: the ABBAtars.
The ABBAtar show will premiere in London on May 26.
The band recently won the Swedish Government’s Music Export Prize 2022. At the ceremony held in Stockholm last week, the organizers said, ” What Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid started in 1972 was the first big step in the story of the global success of Swedish music. Thank you for the music!”