If there is one European group who has had the most impact on pop music, for better or for worse, it has to be ABBA. The quartet was at one point the biggest name on the charts. With classic hits under their belt such as “Waterloo,” “Mamma Mia,” and “Dancing Queen,” ABBA’s back catalog speaks for itself. However, not everything was so clear-cut and, ultimately, their time together was fairly short-lived. Thankfully, it seems that things have finally taken a turn for the best, at least as far as diehard ABBA fans are concerned. When a band gets back together after so much time apart, it is usually through one of a variety of ways. These could include making a new album, going on a worldwide reunion tour together, or sometimes, it just takes one great show. Sometimes it’s a combination of all of those things. However, it seems like ABBA is getting back together in a way that no one could ever have anticipated.
A Major Announcement
Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn, and Frida-Anni went through quite an ordeal during their time as ABBA.
Years later, they are working past their problems for something everyone can enjoy. Their major announcement is not exactly what fans expected either…
They Said No To A Reunion For Years
There have been many opportunities for the four to get back together. However, each member has consistently denied such possibilities ever since splitting up back in the ’80s.
At one point, ABBA even declined $1 billion in exchange for a 100-show reunion tour. Former members Bjorn and Benny are busy pursuing their own projects, while Agnetha and Frida have recently kept a low profile.
Too Much History?
One key reason as to why ABBA struggled to get back together was potentially due to their personal history.
Not only were Bjorn, Agnetha, Benny, and Frida in relationships with each other while working together, the media constantly attacked the band, convinced that their romances were simply publicity stunts. Both couples got together before forming the band. However, it was ultimately the pressures of fame and showbiz that caused both the couples and the group to split. But would it be for good?
Love At First Sight For Bjorn & Agnetha
It seemed like ABBA’s formation was closely linked to the couples’ respective blossoming relationships.
Agnetha Faltskog and Bjorn Ulvaeus first met in 1968 and, soon enough, their friendship became romantic. Eventually, the couple married in 1971. This was just a year before ABBA officially formed, and Bjorn and Agnetha even had two kids during the band’s early formation – Linda Elin Ulvaeus and Peter Christian Ulvaeus. However, sparks weren’t just flying for Bjorn and Agnetha in this remarkable pop group.
Benny & Frida’s 10-Year Engagement
Around the same time that Bjorn and Agnetha became romantically involved, so did their fellow band members Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad.
Despite this, there was one major difference between the two relationships. While Bjorn and Agnetha married pretty soon after first dating, Benny and Frida were engaged for the good part of a decade before finally tying the knot. Things looked good for both couples. However, ABBA’s rising fame and fortune would soon change everything.
Agnetha Struggled To Move On
At the end of 1978, when ABBA was tearing up the charts, Agnetha and Bjorn decided that they could no longer stay together.
They separated and then got divorced two years later. Despite this, Agnetha found it very tough to get over her relationship with Bjorn and required therapy. One way that she coped with the breakup was through music. Although Bjorn wrote “The Winner Takes It All” in honor of the couple’s breakup, it’s actually Agnetha’s favorite ABBA song, due to its honesty.
Benny & Frida’s Divorce
While fans weren’t surprised about Agnetha and Bjorn’s divorce, they couldn’t say the same about Benny and Frida.
According to an article from Swedish newspaper Expressen, Benny caught Frida by surprise when he told her he had met someone knew – Mona Norklit. According to the report, Frida was devastated. However, Benny reassured the public that he and Frida were still on good terms. “Frida and I are still friends and I’m still a member of ABBA,” he said. However, many more changes were still to come.
Second Time Lucky For Bjorn
It was around the time that ABBA came to an informal end that Bjorn Ulvaeus was celebrating a new beginning.
His relationship with Agnetha may have come to an end, but he married music journalist Lena Kallersjo shortly after. Thankfully for Bjorn, it seems that his second marriage has been a lot healthier, with the couple having two kids. For a large part of the ’80s, Bjorn and Lena lived in the UK, before eventually moving back to Stockholm.
Agnetha’s Secret Second Marriage
As for Agnetha, she was also romantically involved with other people after Bjorn. However, the public only found out about her second marriage after it had come to an end.
In 1990, the former ABBA singer tied the knot with Tomas Sonnenfeldt, and as far she was concerned, she didn’t want anyone to know about it. Agnetha’s success in keeping her personal life private wouldn’t help the fact that things wouldn’t work out. The couple divorced three years after marrying.
Frida Married A Prince?
While her fellow group members were trying to move on with their lives, marrying other people and exploring their individual passions, Frida had joined a royal family!
After briefly living in London, she moved to Switzerland where she lived with her boyfriend, Prince Heinrich Ruzzo Reuss. After six years together, the couple tied the knot, and it was through Heinrich that Frida became affiliated with the Swedish royal family. She got particularly close with Queen Silva.
Benny & Frida’s Sacrifices
What many casual fans don’t realize is how many sacrifices the members of ABBA needed to make early on in their career.
According to Frida, the band was on tour ten months per year. Frida and Benny already both had children from previous marriages and admitted to struggling when they had to be away from them for so long. While Frida divorced her first husband, Benny admitted to leaving his fiancé and two kids in order to pursue his pop career.
Benny Before Frida
To truly grasp the extent of the sacrifices Benny made to join ABBA, we need an idea of the people he left behind.
Before he even met Frida-Anni, Benny was actually engaged to a woman called Christina Grönvall. Eventually, during the 60s, they had a son who they called Peter and two years later, had a daughter by the name of Heléne. However, Benny was determined to make a name for himself in the world music and decided to split with Christina in 1966.
Frida’s First Marriage
As for Frida-Anni, her first marriage came when she was just 18 years of age. She tied the knot with musician Ragnar Fredriksson and with time, the couple would end up having two kids: Hans Ragnar and Ann Lise-Lotte.
However, that marriage wasn’t destined to go the distance and Anni-Frid and Ragnar eventually decided to call the quits. They officially divorced on May 19th, 1970. Amazingly, her grandmother Arntine died on the exact same day. She was only 71 years old.
Agnetha wasn’t the only member of ABBA to experience tragic loss years after the band split up. In 1998, Ann Lise-Lotte Casper, Frida’s daughter from her first marriage, was in a car accident and succumbed to her injuries at just 30 years of age.
Then, just a year later, Frida’s husband, Prince Heinrich Ruzzo Reuss, died of lymphoma. As a result, Frida became a Dowager Princess of Reuss. However, Frida ended up getting caught up in a huge fiasco just a decade later.
Although ABBA was known for rarely getting involved in politics, it appears that Frida had something of a change of heart in 2009 when she was involved in a political scandal.
Admiral Sir Alan West, who was the security minister during Gordon Brown’s term as British Prime Minister, admitted that he was, at one point, unfaithful to his wife. It is reported that West had been through a marriage crisis and, at that time, was actually having an affair with Frida.
Partying With Zeppelin
One crazy story that has only managed to resurface in recent times was about the night that Bjorn and Benny spent with Led Zeppelin back in 1978.
After completing their album In Through the Out Door at Polar Music Studios, Stockholm, where ABBA used to record, the pair reportedly went out with the rock band to a local club. According to Robert Plant, “People would go to bed on circle-shaped mattresses in front of us.” Despite this claim, ABBA’s spokespeople have denied all reports.
The Fifth Member
Let’s face it, ABBA are renowned for being a quartet. It’s A-B-B-A for a reason: Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, and Frida-Anni.
However, what many casual fans don’t know is that the pop group had a sort of fifth member at one point, Stig Anderson. It was this guy who spurred the four on to become a music act in the first place and he eventually became their manager. He co-wrote huge ABBA hits such as “Waterloo,” “Dancing Queen” and “Mamma Mia.”
ABBA might be apprehensive to get back together due to some of the security issues they faced during their touring years.
These included the time they performed in Australia during their world tour in 1977. One evening, during one of their shows, a policeman alerted one of the promoters that “someone’s called and said they’ve put a bomb in the arena.” The audience only had three minutes to evacuate the venue. However, the police confirmed that it was in fact, a hoax.
Sweden Hated ABBA
One reason that it might be a bad idea for ABBA to reunite is due to their profile in their home country of Sweden.
Although the Swedish people generally don’t take the pop group so seriously these days, there was a time when many Swedish communities resented ABBA for their refusal to align themselves with any political movement. Not only that, but they were also criticized for being too mainstream. It will be interesting to see how ABBA impacts today’s Swedish society.
Frida Wasn’t Swedish?
One little detail that many casual ABBA fans might not realize is that Anni-Frid isn’t actually Swedish. She was born in Norway, Sweden’s Scandinavian neighbor.
In fact, it was her father, Alfred Haase, a German soldier who married a Norwegian woman and had a child with her. Due to her father’s connections with Germany, Anni-Frid was ostracized by her community and was forced to flee to Sweden with her grandmother. Her Norwegian mother had passed away when she was just a baby.
If there is one reason that ABBA should get back together, it is for the following three words: ABBA makes money.
As of today, the Swedish pop group has sold a staggering 400 million albums and singles worldwide. There have only been two other music acts who have sold more records – The Beatles and Elvis Presley. That’s not all though. ABBA is also the most successful pop group to ever come out of Europe, and being Swedish, they were the first foreign-language speaking group to impact English-speaking music charts heavily.
Keeping The Band Together
With both couples coming to their respective ends, Agnetha, Bjorn, Frida and Benny desperately tried to keep ABBA going.
However, there was no denying that the personal issues had affected their music to the point that their content was a lot darker. The lyrics even often alluded to aspects of their failed marriages. The performances kept on coming, and another album was in the works. Nevertheless, this didn’t cover up the cracks that were clearly forming
The Band’s Final Show?
Despite never announcing their official split up, ABBA essentially dissolved in 1982, with their last performance happening on The Late, Late Breakfast Show.
The idea of ABBA coming to an end was even denied by members of the group, with Ben and Bjorn playing down the split in numerous interviews. However, all the band members sold their shares to Polar Music in 1983. Ironically, the group’s end was just the beginning of many other troubles in their individual lives.
It seems like Agnetha’s unsuccessful marriage was just the start of a chain of unfortunate events for the singer.
After her failed marriage with Bjorn and her desperate attempt to keep her personal life secret backfired on her, Agnetha was in for some more misfortune further down the line. Just a year after divorcing from Tomas Sonnenfeld, Agnetha’s mother, Birgit, committed suicide. This was followed by her father’s death in 1995. She kept both tragedies secret for a long time.
Benny’s Drinking Problems
ABBA always put across an image that was considered to be too clear-cut for the rock n’ roll lifestyle.
However, that doesn’t mean that the band didn’t take things a bit too far as individuals. Benny Andersson, unfortunately, suffered from alcoholism for a large part of his adult life. Since 2001 though, he has maintained a sober lifestyle. It is a dark corner of his life that he was timid about sharing with the public until recent times.
Like Father, Like Son
You know what they say – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. That couldn’t have been any truer as far as Benny and his son Ludvig were concerned.
Back in 1981 Benny tied the knot with his third partner, Swedish TV presenter Mona Norkli,t and soon after they had a son, Ludvig. Just like his dad, Ludvig has pursued a career in music. Not only has he had minor success with his own band, Ella Rouge, but Ludvig was also an associate producer for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
Bjorn’s Tax Issues
At the turn of the Millenium, Bjorn was in some truly dire financial troubles, with the Swedish Tax Agency clamping down on him for failing to pay the Swedish equivalent of $12.8 million USD worth of taxes.
It was a tax evasion that had stretched for the good part of a decade. According to the agency, Bjorn had “laundered” his money through numerous foreign companies. Amazingly though, despite paying off the taxes, it was ultimately decided that Bjorn didn’t fail to pay in the first place.
Agnetha’s Fear Of Flying
One reason that Agnetha might not be so keen to reunite with ABBA after all this time is her fear of flying. Naturally, the band had to fly a lot during their touring days.
When they were touring around America, there was one flight where the plane got caught in a tornado and was forced to make an emergency landing. Agnetha claimed that, to this day, she still requires therapy. It’s not just planes that she has struggled with. Agnetha also survived a bus accident back in 1983.
Bjorn’s Still Doing ABBA Stuff
It may be a long time ago now that Bjorn Ulvaeus last performed alongside Agnetha, Benny, and Frida but this hasn’t stopped him from doing things in the name of ABBA.
Bjorn was heavily involved with Mamma Mia! The Party, which has sold out nearly every single one of its shows. Despite his plans to bring the show to London, he ultimately decided against it and pulled the plug. “I’ve…decided not to go ahead with our plans on this site,” he said.
Bjorn’s Memory Loss
One of the saddest details surrounding Bjorn’s life since ABBA came to an end was his reported long-term memory loss.
It is believed that Bjorn has struggled to remember critical events of his life and has even resorted to hypnotism in order to fix the problem. However, Bjorn confirmed in an interview that these claims were “hugely exaggerated.” According to him, his memory loss simply applies to certain times of his life that were generally less memorable.
Frida’s Feeling Good Now
Nowadays, Anni-Frid’s quality of life is a lot better, after experiencing so much tragedy and loss throughout her life. She currently lives in Zermatt, Switzerland, with her British boyfriend, Henry Smith, 5th Viscount Hambleden.
While she remains somewhat lukewarm about the idea of getting back together with ABBA, she remains proud of being involved with the band and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 2010. She is also heavily involved with a number of charities.
Despite being apart for so long, ABBA managed to receive something of a revival in the ’90s. When movies such as Muriel’s Wedding and Priscilla – Queen of the Desert became huge hits, their use of ABBA songs put the pop group back on the map.
A new generation of ABBA fans was finally on the horizon. That’s not all though. One of the most successful musicals in recent memory is Mamma Mia!, which has grossed a staggering $2 billion worldwide. This also paved the way for the movie adaptations starring Meryl Streep.
ABBA’s stubborn refusal to have a reunion hasn’t come without its fair share of compromises. They have rejected offers worth millions just so they don’t have to get back together.
However, it seems like time has been the ultimate healer, and the group is finally ready to get back together. It just might not be the way you may have anticipated it. The key to the reunion’s success is technology, which the group is essentially using as a “time machine..”
How Is ABBA Reuniting?
In order to explain why exactly ABBA are getting back together, we need to break down how this reunion is happening. Most bands who have been apart for many years normally struggle to recreate the magic they first produced in their heyday.
Bands usually form a reunion through a variety of typical methods such as producing a comeback album or going on a reunion world tour. However, the Swedish pop stars are getting back together in a way that has never been done before.
Part of the project has involved ABBA recording two new singles as well as a two-hour-long piece of digital footage that is to be co-produced by BBC and NBC.
Essentially, each band member will be computer generated and “de-aged” to look as they did in their prime. That’s not all though. The “ABBAtars” are scheduled to “go on tour.” Of course, this isn’t the first time that a performer has been regenerated in hologram form. Dr. Dre organized the same thing for Tupac Shakur at a Coachella event.
Don’t Call It A Comeback
Ultimately, ABBA agreed on one thing: the fans deserved a reunion after being denied one for so long.
The group said the following in a statement: “The decision to go ahead with the exciting Abba avatar tour project had an unexpected consequence. We all felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio. So we did. And it was like time had stood still and we had only been away on a short holiday. An extremely joyful experience!”