Celebrity News

Celebrating 50 years of Abba

Five decades on from Abba’s Arrival, we’re still saying Thank You For the Music
Abba performing on stage almost 50 years ago

Fifty years ago, Eurovision met its Waterloo. When Abba’s infectious talent, shiny good looks and skin-tight satin costumes erupted onto the stage, the sedate old song contest suddenly went pop.

It wasn’t just the catchy, up-tempo tune that gave Sweden a landslide victory on April 6, 1974, scoring 24 points to beat Italy by six points. Eurovision – until then best known for dramatic ballads – had never seen anything like Abba’s choreography, silver mics, platform boots and all-round glitz.

Abba’s fab four – married couples Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus, and Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad – hoped Eurovision would get them noticed outside their native Sweden, where they were already stars.

And the tactic worked like a charm. “I hardly remember anything other than waking up the next day and finding myself, and us, being all over the globe suddenly,” says Björn. “We had gone overnight from this obscure Swedish band to world fame… So unreal.

The Abba bandmates walking down the front steps of a building in black and white
The band’s luck changed with one song.

“The world was opened to us. One night and it all opens up.”

Waterloo – voted the best Eurovision song of all time on the contest’s 50th anniversary in 2005 – soared to the top of the charts in the UK, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, South Africa, Sweden and Spain. It also hit the top 10 in Australia, Canada and the US. But that was just the start of Abba’s time as a global sensation. They’ve sold an estimated 385 million albums, spawned a hit stage musical, two Mamma Mia! movies and a concert spectacular featuring their digital avatars.

Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid divorced in 1980 and 1981 respectively, and haven’t performed together in more than 40 years. Yet the juggernaut rolls on.

Still a no-show

The stage set-up before an Abba concert

Fans fervently hoping for a 50 year anniversary Abba reunion are sadly doomed to disappointment.

Benny recently spoke to the BBC’s Newsnight. He said there was “no way” the group was going to reunite or even walk on stage together.

“We will never appear on stage again,” says Björn, a millionaire many times over. “There is simply no motivation. Money is not a factor and we would like people to remember us as we were. I don’t think that four geriatrics wheeled on stage is what we should leave as our legacy.”

Nevertheless, much like Shortland Street star Courtenay Lousie did at her wedding, we’ll still continue to groove to our favourite Abba songs for years to come.

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