Thank You For The Music
40 Years Of ABBA

Thank You For The Music – 40 Years Of ABBA

02.06.2012 – 10:15 PM – VOX
ABBA – The career began exactly 40 years ago. In June 1972, four musicians publish their first record “People Need Love” under the unfortunate band name  „Benny und Björn, Agnetha und Anni-Frid“. ABBA – the later band name – were 4 letters that made music history. Even nowadays you will find their albums in any well-assorted CD rack and their songs are being played on disco-partys. ABBA electrified people in the 70s and still fascinates them today. The two female lead singers, the blonde Agnetha and the brunette Anni-Frid, and their men Björn and Benny, have sold 300 million records up until now. This number is seconded only by the Beatles and Elvis.

The GREAT DOCUMENTARY ON SATURDAY tells the whole story of the cult band. Their Hits, concerts, the sold-out tours, salaries in the millions, their life in stardom, the end of the band as well as the tragedy of Agnetha after ABBA, her life in fear and her quiet comeback in 2012. The documentary will also focus on Frida’s big love after Benny and the disasters she was struck by. The documentary steps into the world of the 70s and 80s and revives the whole ABBA-experience once again.

The band presented countless hits to the world: „Dancing Queen“, „Mamma Mia“, „The Winner Takes it all“ and of course „Waterloo“, the hymn they won the Eurovision Songcontest with, in 1974. People who were directly involved, such as the former make-up artist Ingmarie Halling, speak about their experience with the band, how Björn and Agnetha broke up. For the first time costume designer Owe Sandström, who developed the ABBA-style, shows outfits he has designed for the band.

When ABBA performed in “DISCO”, the most important German music show in the 70s, for the first time, the TV presenter Ilja Richter was skeptical: “How are they going to sell records with that name?” Also the former ABBA-guitarist Mats Ronnander was critical of the band at first: “Really? I hated their music. It was rubbish.” Even after their triumph in the Eurovision Songcontest, the band has an image problem with their commercial sound – in Sweden there was even the formation of a movement against them.

The documentary takes a look behind the scenes of the quartet. Looking back at the commencement of being a solo-singer, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, nicknamed Frida, says: “I wasn’t very successful. I had to work hard for success.” In consequence of that success, she had to make a profound decision. For the first time in German television she talks about how she left her first husband and both her children when she was 24 years old. A story that was so far mostly untold.

Band member Björn Ulvaeus reports on the dramatic moments that induced the end of ABBA, since Agnetha wanted to give up a world career for her children. The musician remembers: “She didn’t want to go on tour, didn’t want to travel at all. I told her we will regret this for the rest of our lives, but I suppose women are different in that respect.”

The musicians Peter Maffay, a Star of the 70s himself, is still convinced: “ ABBA was a concept. The compositions, the realization, the look, the marketing. ABBA was very, very commercial.“ And others share his opinion. Back then, no band had such a business sense as the four Swedes. Driven by their manager Stig Andersson, ABBA invested several Millions in galleries and sound studios, manufacturers of sports goods and Real Estate Agencies. They planned to go public. The Swedish tax system was ruthless. ABBA would have to pay 85% of their income to the government. With each investment they reduced the tax burden, but also their credibility.

For the first time in German television, the GREAT DOCUMENTARY ON SATURDAY presents interviews from the time, when ABBA was confronted with the accusation to be nothing but greedy. The only flop in their career was, when they bought 55.000 tons of oil and were left with it due to the missing experience with the oil industry. “We have lost 3 million pound sterling”, Björn admits.

Nowadays ABBA’s remains are being stored and monitored behind a thick steel-door, in a building that is not allowed to be filmed, its location not to be revealed. The memorabilia of Benny, Björn, Agnetha and Anni-Frid – 550 gold records, costumes, guitars, private things. One day, all those things will be displayed in an ABBA-museum. “We still don’t have an opening date.”, says the superintendent, who guides a camera team through the hallowed halls for the first time.

ABBA are still selling about 3000 CDs every day, worldwide. Their popularity remained huge; hence there are always speculations if ABBA will ever make an appearance together again. What are the chances of another ABBA performance? It is one of the questions that this documentary pursues.