It’s hard to believe that the fresh-faced foursome from Sweden began their musical journey five decades ago, but the band ABBA is celebrating their 50th anniversary this week.
Original band members Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, Agnetha Faltskog, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad decided to reunite on the occasion of their 50th anniversary. It is the first time the band has performed together onstage in 30 years, according to Rolling Stone.
The event began with a some shared reminiscing between the members of ABBA, and their fans, who attended the anniversary celebration in Stockholm, Sweden. After spending some time talking about their storied career in the music industry, the two primary singers in ABBA, Faltskog and Lyngstad, sang “Me and I,” a tune from the band’s 1980 release Super Trouper.
The event was further elevated when ABBA’s male counterparts, Ulvaeus and Andersson, joined in on the performance of “Me and I.” This officially marked the first time all four members of ABBA had performed together in public since 1986.
As reported by Billboard, the phenomenon known as ABBA blossomed from a June 5, 1966 meeting between Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. The men recorded as a duo for a few years, but in 1972, they added the singing talents of Agnetha Faltskog and Frida Lyngstad.
Once ABBA became a four-piece band, they made an immediate impact on the music scene. In 1974, ABBA entered and won that year’s Eurovision Song Contest with their original composition, “Waterloo.” The song became an international hit, and introduced the Swedish group to American audiences for the first time.
ABBA followed their Eurovision success with a string of hit songs, including “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do,” “SOS,” “Mamma Mia” and “Fernando” in 1975.
As successful as the band had become, their popularity skyrocketed with the release of what would become the biggest hit single of their career, “Dancing Queen,” in 1976. The song reached No. 1 in numerous countries around the globe, including the United States.
The momentum continued for ABBA in 1977. They scored major hits that year with “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” “The Name of the Game,” and “Take a Chance on Me.” The following year saw the group’s record sales start to decline, but they managed to crack the charts with “Chiquitita” and “Does Your Mother Know.”
The music industry was transitioning from pop to disco to the early rise of punk rock, and as a result, ABBA’s music was no longer in vogue. The band’s last major hit single, “The Winner Takes It All,” rode the charts in 1980.
ABBA disbanded in 1982, but this was not the end for the Swedish pop sensations. Ulvaeus and Andersson continued their musical collaboration in the years that followed, which included composer credits on the musicals Chess and Kristina fran Duvemala.
In 1999, a stage musical that included numerous songs from the ABBA song catalogue became an instant hit, revitalizing their notoriety. Mamma Mia! was a nostalgic trip for long-time fans, and the musical earned the group a new generation of younger fans, as well.
Agnetha Faltskog has lived a mostly quiet life since her days in ABBA, but she did begin to sporadically record music again in 2004. She reportedly prefers to remain out of the public eye, as reported by The Telegraph, but she will occasionally make appearances and perform in public. Despite her reticence, Faltskog was front and center at ABBA’s 50th anniversary celebration on June 5.
ABBA’s other female singer, Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad, enjoyed limited success as a solo artist. Lyngstad released her only hit single, “I Know There’s Something Going On,” in 1982. She currently resides in Switzerland with her boyfriend.
The members of ABBA have enjoyed tremendous mainstream success as a pop music group, and have reinvented themselves in various ways over the years. On the occasion of ABBA’s 50th anniversary, one has to wonder if this talented band has even more in store for us in the years to come.
[Photo by AP Images]