ABBA Celebrates 40th Anniversary
It always starts with a good song. 40 years a ago – almost to the day – ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton with the song Waterloo. This week the embassy has been celebrating the 40th anniversary and we were very pleased to have Frida Lyngstad- one of the original members of ABBA – with us for an event about ABBA’s life backstage. The music producer Pete Waterman moderated a discussion between Frida Lyngstad, Ingmarie Halling, who has just written ABBA – The Backstage Stories and is curator at ABBA The museum, Patrick Woodroffe, who designed the light shows on the ABBA tours and who just came back from a tour with the Rolling Stones and Görel Hanser, who was ABBA’s manager and who has always worked closely with the band.
Inevitably we had to move back in history to 6 April in 1974. The victory in Brighton was ABBA’s international breakthrough and launched the group in to global fame. Since then ABBA has sold 380 million records and has been a tremendous inspiration for Swedish musicians and the music industry as a whole. The victory also catapulted Sweden onto the international musical scene. In some ways musical history changed that night 40 years ago. ABBA had the music, the style, the show and striking costumes. The outfits no doubt gave a whole new meaning to glam rock excess.
Yesterday we had copies of the actual costumes used at the Eurovision final. The classic ABBA clothes – creative and wonderfully non-Swedish madness with inspiration from everywhere – as the designer Lars Wallin put it. We are very grateful to Ingmarie Halling and – ABBA The museum – in Stockholm for bringing the costumes to London. We were also grateful to our live models representing both Sweden and Australia to honour the success ABBA had Down Under.
The interest that we have seen for the ABBA anniversary here in London over the past couple of days is astonishing and shows how popular ABBA still is in the UK. There has been a major ABBA celebration at Tate Modern with close to two thousand fans singing Happy Birthday to Frida and Björn. We have also seen the publication of two new books about ABBA: ABBA Backstage Stories and ABBA the Official Photo Book.
It has all been one great celebration where we had the opportunity to say Thank you for the Music!