40 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About ABBA
In the history of music, not many acts can compare to the success of ABBA. They are one of the best-selling musical groups of all time, Eurovision song contest winners, and have had both a hugely popular stage musical and two hit movie musicals adapted from their songs. The enormous success of the Mamma Mia! movie franchise has triggered an ABBA resurgence that is still ongoing today. With new ABBA music being released after decades of silence, and Mamma Mia! have made the band arguably more popular now than ever, now is the perfect time to explore some facts that you might not have known about ABBAa.
40. The UK gave ABBA no points in the 1974 Eurovision song contest
ABBA’s winning 1974 Eurovision performance is arguably the most iconic Eurovision performance of all time. In May 2020, their winning song – Waterloo – was even voted the best ever song to be performed on the European contest. However, it seems the UK were sceptical of the group at first, as they gifted the Swedish quartet 0 points – or ‘nul points’ – back in 1974.
Admittedly, the voting rules were different back in 1974. Each country had just 10 points to dish out, and the UK chose to divvy these up between Italy, Israel, Finland, Ireland and Switzerland. ABBA actually had no idea of this until relatively recently, and expressed their shock at the launch of an ABBA world exhibit in London in 2000. “All these years and I thought the Brits were our best friends,” Ulvaeus joked. Ultimately, it didn’t matter that the UK was stingy with their points, as ABBA went on to win the whole competition with an impressive 24 total points.
39. They almost did the Lion King soundtrack
The Lion King has gone on to become one of the most popular Disney movies of all time. After its release in 1994, the animated film was not only praised for its plot and stunning animation – but Tim Rice and Elton John’s contribution to the soundtrack was also met with acclaim. But when the film was first pitched in 1988, Rice wasn’t dead set on Elton.
Instead, Rice got in touch with ABBA to see if they’d be willing to write music for the film. Rice had already worked with ABBA frontmen Andersson and Ulvaeus on the 1986 musical Chess. But it wasn’t to be – the rest of the Lion King production team wasn’t convinced, and, in any case, ABBA politely turned the gig down.
38. Anni-Frid thought that her father was killed in the war and only discovered he was still alive when she was 30
Anni-Frid Lyngstad’s birth was the result of a liaison between her Nordic mother and German soldier father. Lyngstad was led to believe that her father, Alfred Haase, had died on his way back to Germany from Norway after reports that his ship had sunk. Lyngstad’s mother, Synni, then died of kidney failure at the young age of 21 – leaving Lyngstad to be brought up by her grandmother in Sweden.
Lyngstad believed herself to be an orphan. However, that all changed in 1977 when the German teen magazine Bravo published a complete biography of Lyngstad – including the names of her mother and father. Lyngstad’s half-brother, Peter Haase, saw this and asked his father if he’d ever been stationed in Norway during the war, who confessed that he had. A few months later, Lyngstad met Haase in Stockholm for the first time and the two reconnected.