One of the most frequent search terms on this blog is “ABBA today”. Perhaps people are interested in what the former ABBA members are doing in 2007. Or maybe they want to find out if ABBA are reuniting and touring (see Tribute acts trading as “ABBA”).
ABBA as a group came to an end 25 years ago this month. Since then, all four have mostly followed their own individual paths. Benny and Björn have continued various collaborations (including the musicals Chess and Kristina från Duvemåla), while Agnetha and Frida released several solo albums, before retiring from public life with the occasional new recording.
The four have come together a number of times for low key “reunions”. The only public appearance was a pre-taped television performance of ‘Tivedshambo’ for former ABBA manager Stig Anderson on a This Is Your Life-type programme in January 1986. They have sung together at several friends’ birthday parties in the 1980s and ’90s, most recently at business associate Görel Hanser’s 50th birthday in 1999.
The group has resisted all offers for a full-scale reunion, including the famous offer of an alleged 1 billion US dollars in 2000.
Benny is the only musically active of the four today. His band Benny Anderssons Orkester (Benny Andersson’s Orchestra), also known as BAO (pronounced “bow” as in “take a bow”), has released three studio albums of Benny’s compositions since the first CD in 2001, the most recent BAO 3 released in October 2007. Last year they also released a live CD, recorded on their almost annual Summer tour. Their live repertoire includes original music, Swedish folk, American evergreens and the occasional ABBA song.
Earlier this year Benny produced the music for the film version of the stage musical Mamma Mia!, also playing piano alongside many of ABBA’s original studio musicians. He also appeared at the November 2007 premiere of the musical in Barcelona, Spain.
On top of all this, Benny has been quite vocal in a campaign to reform European copyright laws.
Björn continues to write lyrics for Benny’s songs, but otherwise his activities are strictly non-musical. He and Benny have talked of writing another musical, but have yet to come up with any firm ideas.
His most public involvement is with the musical Mamma Mia!, most recently at the Berlin premiere in October 2007.
In Sweden he has become an outspoken supporter of the “Humanist” movement, revealing an atheistic viewpoint, questioning the influence of religion on world governments. In September 2007 he was interviewed for the international documentary series Why Democracy? .
Frida last recorded in 2004, singing the song ‘The Sun Will Shine Again’ on the CD Beyond The Notes, an album by former Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord. She frequently attends celebrity events in Stockholm and London, and the occasional Mamma Mia! event, most recently the Berlin premiere with Björn. Otherwise she maintains her private life at her home in Switzerland.
In an October 2007 interview Frida said she and Jon Lord had been discussing the possibility of a full-length album project, but had not yet progressed beyond the discussion stage. Frida has a continuing involvement with various charitable causes, including promoting healthy, anti-drug lifestyles for young people.
Agnetha continues her private life on the island of Ekerö, just outside Stockholm, which is not the isolated, lonely island of myth, but a populated area on the eastern outskirts of Stockholm. Occasionally she turns up at nightclubs, parties or media events, belying her “recluse” reputation.
In November 2007 she attended a 20th anniversary party for Swedish channel TV3, and was seen dancing to ABBA tribute act Björn Again. Since her 2004 “comeback” album My Colouring Book, Agnetha has remained silent musically nor has she given any interviews.