ABBA seeks new triumph: With all their fame this successful group still has one ambition

New Idea 20 May 1978

ABBA – Sweden’s chart-topping pop group – has come a long way. But there is still one giant ambition left in their sights.

They are determined to knock The Beatles from their long-occupied perch as the top-selling recording group of recent decades.

To date ABBA has sold more records than any other group except the legendary Beatles.

It is not an ambition they are publicising but it is one which close acquaintances of the group claim, occupies a lot of their thoughts.

But Anni-Frid, Agnetha, Benny and Bjorn certainly are not unhappy about the way their fortunes have been going since they came out of semi-retirement after the birth of Bjorn’s and Agnetha’s son, Christian last December.

They are particularly delighted by the success of their movie, ABBA–The Movie, the majority part of which was shot during their Australian tour last year.

In London they celebrated the premiere of that movie with a giant party for the press and fellow business performers.

Most of the guests were from the music world, among them Keith Moon and John Entwistle of The Who.

And what of reviewers’ reaction to the movie?

One British newspaper, The Daily Mail, seemed to sum it up best with the headline “Swedish, sexy…and so clean”.

But for all the attention lavished on ABBA, the group still suffers hardships, particularly in regard to travel.

When they are away from Sweden their world is an endless succession of airports and hotel rooms. They claim they spend most of their touring time dreaming of their secret island home, set in the archipelago outside Stockholm.

Said Bjorn: “The exact location of the island is a jealousy guarded secret. We spent the Summers on another island until two years ago, when we let its name slip. Then it was not a hideaway anymore, and we had to move on.

“Our new island is just an hour away from Stockholm by boat. And when we make that journey, I can feel the stress of the outside world being shut out.

“It provides the ideal atmosphere to work in. Benny sits at his grand piano – yes, a grand piano out there on the island – searching for snatches of music.”

Benny, the group’s bearded pianist, said: “It is a tiny island, but big enough for us. We can be ourselves there, and relax in T-shirts and jeans. We do not have to worry about our appearance and public image.

“We spend as much of our time as we can there. And when we are away on tour, in the middle of a bustle and rush it is great comfort to think of that lovely, tranquil island waiting just for us.

“Having our own island was the idea of our manager, Stikkan Anderson, and it was a stroke of genius. It gives us just the release we need.” 

© 1978 New Idea. Thanks to Samuel Inglles