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ABBA Biography

Home > Music > A > ABBA > Biography

Birth Place: Stockholm, Sweden
Years Active: 1972–1983
Genres: Pop, Rock, Disco, Europop, Glam Rock

ABBA was a Swedish pop music group formed in Stockholm in 1972, consisting of Anni-Frid "Frida" Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Agnetha Fältskog. They became one of the most commercially successful acts in the history of popular music, and they topped the charts worldwide from 1972 to 1983.

ABBA gained international popularity employing catchy song hooks, simple lyrics, sound effects (reverb, phasing) and a Wall of Sound achieved by overdubbing the female singers' voices in multiple harmonies. As their popularity grew, they were sought after to tour Europe, Australia, and North America, drawing crowds of ardent fans, notably in Australia.

Their debut album “Ring Ring” was released in 1973. The album was a chart-topping album in Belgium, and a big success in Holland, Norway and South Africa.

“Waterloo” was released in 1974 and the title track of the album won ABBA the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest. "Waterloo" was ABBA's first number one single in big markets such as the UK, Germany and Australia. In the US, it reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, paving the way for their first album and their first trip as a group there. The “Waterloo” album peaked at #145 on the Billboard 200 album chart.

Their eponymous third album was released in 1975 and saw the band gaining worldwide recognition. "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" topped the charts in Australia, as did "Mamma Mia" shortly thereafter. "SOS" and "Mamma Mia" became hits in both the U.S. and UK, and two of their most famous songs.

In March 1976, the band released the compilation “Greatest Hits,” despite having had only six Top 40 hits in the UK and the US. Nevertheless, it became their first UK #1 album, and also took ABBA into the Top 50 on the US album charts for the first time, eventually selling more than a million copies there. Included on “Greatest Hits” was a new single, "Fernando.” "Fernando" took the world by storm, hitting #1 in at least thirteen countries worldwide, including the UK, Germany and Australia and the single went to sell over 10 million copies worldwide. In Australia, the song occupied the top position during 14 weeks, and stayed in the Australian charts for 40 weeks, making "Fernando" one of the bestselling singles of all time in Australia. In the US, "Fernando" reached the Top 10 of the Cashbox Top 100 singles chart and #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also topped the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, ABBA's first American number one single of any kind.

The group's next album, “Arrival,” was a #1 bestseller all over Europe and Australia. Hit after hit flowed from “Arrival:” "Money, Money, Money", another #1 in Germany and Australia, and "Knowing Me, Knowing You", ABBA's sixth consecutive German #1 as well as another UK #1. The real sensation was "Dancing Queen", not only topping the charts in the loyal markets UK, Germany and Australia, but also reaching #1 in the US. In 1977 “Arrival” was nominated for the inaugural BRIT Award in the category "Best International Album of the Year".

Their popularity in the US would remain on a comparatively smaller scale, and "Dancing Queen" became the only Billboard Hot 100 #1 single ABBA had there (they did, however, get three more singles to the #1 position on other Billboard charts, including Billboard Adult Contemporary and Hot Dance Club Play). Nevertheless, “Arrival” finally became a true breakthrough release for ABBA on the US album market where it peaked at #20 on the Billboard 200 album chart and was certified gold by RIAA.

In December 1977, ABBA followed up “Arrival” with the more ambitious fifth album “The Album,” released to coincide with the debut of “ABBA: The Movie.” Although the album was less well-received by UK reviewers, it did spawn more worldwide hits: "The Name of the Game" and "Take a Chance on Me", both topped the UK charts, and reached #12 and #3 respectively on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US. Although "Take a Chance on Me" did not top the American charts, it proved to be ABBA's biggest hit single in the United States, selling more copies than "Dancing Queen".

The group's sixth album, “Voulez-Vous,” was released in April 1979. The album topped the charts across Europe and in Japan and Mexico, hit the Top 10 in Canada and Australia and the Top 20 in the US. None of the singles from the album reached #1 on the UK charts, but "Chiquitita", "Does Your Mother Know", "Angeleyes" and "Voulez-Vous" all charted no lower than #4. "I Have a Dream" was the exception, when the single reached #2 in UK and #1 on Eurochart Hot 100 singles. In Canada, "I Have a Dream" became ABBA's second #1 on the RPM Adult Contemporary chart, after "Fernando" hit the top previously.

1980 saw the release of ABBA's seventh album “Super Trouper.” Anticipation for the album had been built up by "The Winner Takes It All", the group's eighth UK chart topper (and their first since 1978). In the US, the single reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became ABBA's second Billboard Adult Contemporary #1. The next single from the album, "Super Trouper", also hit #1 in the UK as well as in Germany, becoming the group's ninth and final UK chart-topper.

Although it topped the album charts across most of Europe, including the UK and Germany, “The Visitors,” released in 1981, was not as commercially successful as its predecessors. A track from “The Visitors, “"When All Is Said and Done", was released as a single in North America, Australia and New Zealand, and fittingly became ABBA's final Top 40 hit in the US , while also reaching the US Adult Contemporary Top 10 and #4 on the RPM Adult Contemporary chart in Canada. Also released in the US was the title track of “The Visitors,” which hit the Top Ten on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.

ABBA has never officially announced the end of the group, but the group has long been considered dissolved. Their last public performance together as ABBA was on a British TV programme 11 December 1982.

ABBA's music remained steadily popular until several films, notably ''Muriel's Wedding'' and ''The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert'', revived interest in the group, spawning several tribute bands. In 1999, ABBA's music was adapted into the successful musical ''Mamma Mia!'' that toured worldwide and had a movie version released in 2008, becoming the highest grossing film in the UK at the time. The group was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 15 March 2010. Only Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad were present to accept ABBA's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The group was inducted into the museum by Bee Gees members Barry Gibb and Robin Gibb.